Getting Results With E-Mail (written August, 2006)

In recent years it has become more valuable to utilize websites for selling information or products. Direct response marketing is no longer just “mail order.” Anyone in business who ignores the internet and the benefits that it can provide does so at his or her own peril. The internet represents the biggest marketing breakthrough since the early days when Pony Express first began delivering the mail. The worldwide web (www) may be the greatest technology breakthrough of all time. And if you use it wisely you will prosper.

One of the best ways to maximize results from your web business is to learn how to get your sales messages delivered quickly & efficiently to potential buyers. Here are some tips:

  1. Use only “opt-in” email strategy. Recently tough new laws have been passed to prevent telemarketers from making phone calls to folks who didn’t want to receive sales calls. The same type of laws will soon apply to email marketing. By fax, phone, or email, millions of people have complained about unsolicited sales messages. Stay out of trouble by using email the responsible way. Your sales promotions should only be sent to present customers or those who have asked to receive sales and marketing information. (Note: when hiring others to do e-mail marketing for you, always ask if they use “opt-in” lists.)
  1. Don’t e-mail too little or too much. Because it costs little for marketers to email their prospects and customers, some marketers are abusing the privilege. They email non-stop, sometimes several times a week, which is a big mistake. This turns off potential buyers. Anyone who emails more than once a week to their email list is sending too much mail. Unless you have a constant flow of new offers, twice a month is probably enough contact.
  1. You should make it simple to get off your list. Marketers hate to have people request removal from their lists, but its part of doing business ad you must accept that fact. You must give easy-to-follow instructions on how a person can quickly be removed from your email lists and when someone “opts-out,” do not email them again!
  1. Capture e-mail addresses of buyers and inquiries. Any mail order dealer worth their salt builds a database of everyone who makes contact with their business. Now that internet marketing is a vital part of all direct response marketing, add a line on all of your marketing documents for contacts to give you their email address. Also ask for this address when talking to contacts on the phone.
  1. Start with your best customers. E-mailing to “cold lists” (those who have not had a relationship with you) can work, but your prime prospects (your own customers) will always produce the best results.
  1. Use email to support regular mailings. Sharp marketers use multiple media (print ads, direct mail, web sites and email) to stay in touch with customers and potential customers. This increases the buying cycles of their customers.
  1. Don’t just sell – use e-mail to “tell.” Effective use of emailing should include providing your contact list with helpful information, advice and news as it pertains to issues of interest. If every message you send is only to sell something, you will not be perceived as a true source of helpful advice and knowledge. Many e-mail marketers have discovered that a mix of tell and sell works wonders.
  1. Use e-mail to say “thank you.” Regardless of the methods in which your customer has made their purchase, it is fast, effective & cheap to send a “thank you” e-mail message to your buyer. Let them know when to expect their shipment or the state of the service that they have ordered. Doing so will reduce the customers service mail, faxes & phone calls.
  1. Reactivate former customers. As time passes & previous buyers stop doing business with you, it is probably a good idea to use e-mail to try to bring the former customer back in the fold. A multiple approach using e-mail, phone, fax & regular mail can often reactivate a former good customer. A discount on a new service or product will often do the trick.
  1. Use e-mail to drive potential buyers to your web sites. Unlike regular mail, where long form sales letters work wonders, most of your email messages will be relatively short. To get people to look over a long form offer or multiple products on your web site, use a well written, benefit rich, tease e-mail message to send folks to your website.
  1. E-mail works extremely well for gift and discount certificates. People love certificates. They should be able to email or fax them to you. If they prefer to use the phone, be sure to have a code number on the certificate that allows them to take advantage of their discount.
  1. When you have a growing list of customers, consider launching an e-mail newsletter. This is an excellent method to stay in touch with your customers. The newsletter should contain a solid mix of “offer” and “tell” information. How often should you publish an email letter? Probably no less than once a month, no more than once a week.

The author of this article is Larry Costello, President of All-American Print & Mail, 2200 Wilson Blvd #102-57, Arlington, VA 22201.