Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Email should still be a part of your marketing mix.

By Mark Helfen

The worlds second oldest form of Internet marketing*, email, can still be an effective part of your marketing and sales strategy.

But as described by Laurie Beasley, founder and president of Beasley Direct Marketing, there is a great deal of strategy, tactics, and - mostly - thinking needed to run an effective campaign and get results.

Beasley was the speaker at the February 8 SDForum Marketing SIG meeting.

Beasley is also President of the Direct Marketing Association of Northern California, and an instructor at U.C. Berkeley Extension.

"Email marketing is old. It's been around for 7 to 10 years. But people are still as crummy at it as they ever were," said Beasley.

Beasley was the speaker at the SDForum Marketing SIG meeting for February, and she offered a number of suggestions on how to make email marketing pay off.

Email marketing needs careful thinking about content, the construction and look of the email, the frequency of emailing, and even the time when it's sent. Not just a "batch and blast" mentality. "That fills up their in box with worse than SPAM, with crap," said Beasley.

The email content needs to be written so that "every word needs to be relevant to the person you are sending to." Keep it light in text and graphics, with lots of white space.

"You need to invest in content to make it interesting and lively," words which this writer certainly approves.

"The longest people will spend on an email is 55 seconds, so you have 55 seconds to convince them to do something, and then they're out," said Beasley.

The email construction, or layout, needs to reflect the email programs your customers use. The things people look at are the from field, the subject, the preview pane (for Outlook users), and if you get them to open the email, to portion that is visible without any scrolling.

The time you send an email is important. Don't send overnight, or your customers will arrive at work with your message as one of a large pile that needs to be looked at. Beasley recommends the time before or after lunch, where they may be fewer meeting and less competition for attention.

How do you get addresses to email to? One way is to rent lists where people have opted in to receive third party emails. This is a way to contact potential customers (prospects), but the best strategy is to combine email with telemarketing. Direct human contact is still more powerful then just email.

One of the best ways to build you in-house list is to allow people to sign up on your web page. People opt-in for newsletters more than any other reason. Which gets back around to being sure that your newsletter is relevant and interesting to your readers. Emails that aren't relevant to the person who receives them are one of the main reasons that people later opt-out of your email list.

* The (almost) first Internet marketing.
Back in the early days of the Internet, the backbone was owned and operated by government agencies - the principally National Science Foundation. When you got your personal email address, you had to agree that you wouldn't use the Internet for commercial purposes (really!). The first advertising SPAM was posted to Usenet groups by the still notorious Sanford (Spamford) Wallace, advertising green cards for immigrants.

Mark Helfen is a freelance writer, journalist, and marketing consultant. He can be reached at:



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