Creating Effective Opt-in E-Mail CampaignsWritten by Lee Traupel
Its been said before, but important to re-emphasize, e-mail is "killer application" of information age. According to latest Forrester Research numbers, permission based e-mail industry is projected to grow from $164M (USD) in 1999 to $7.3B by 2005. E-mail is also rapidly moving from a textual communications process to one that is rich in multimedia content via server-based streaming audio or video - virtually anyone, even those with extremely low bandwidth, can now view compelling content. Here is a condensed primer for developing an effective opt-in e-mail campaign:
1) First and foremost, what is permission based or opt-in e-mail and how is it distinguished from Spam? Opt-in or permission based e-mail (the terms are interchangeable) means recipients have confirmed their interest in receiving e-mail and have signed up (hence term opt- in) to receive e-mail about a subject of their interest. The recipient may also unsubscribe from list at any time and all e- mail messages are clearly identified as coming from a specific and approved vendor or source.
2) We do not recommend Spam (unsolicited bulk e-mail messages) to our clients, nor have we ever developed a campaign that is not opt-in based – we think there is a growing backlash to Spam and many of us(author included) are inundated with it and delete it as soon as we recognize it.
3) The actual opt-in e-mail content is very important, like any interactive marketing process – subject itself needs to be succinct and informative, as this is how most people filter e-mail, text in message should be concise, with paragraphs no more than 2-3 short sentences, customer references should be referred to in lead paragraph to drive rest of message, have no more than two hyperlinks embedded in content and utilize a close and signature that thanks people for their time with a link (phone and e- mail) to a "real" person.
4) Many marketing types don't know whether to use HTML (rich media)or textual content – a standard rule of thumb is, if your target audience is consumers, then many prefer HTML format, due to snazzier graphical content; but, if your targeting corporate or technical types majority of them want a message that is text only and one that leaves out any/all marketing hype – just concise facts.
5) Costs can vary dramatically depending on your target demographics or market segment. A good rule of thumb is to expect rates of $.05 (USD) to $.25 per message, depending on size of media buy and frequency (the number of times you are using a list), type of list demographics, vendor selection (small publisher versus comprehensive services provider such as YesMail) and market conditions in interactive advertising market.
I Am Not A Number! Are You?Written by Mike Banks Valentine
How often do you give your email address to clients and business prospects? Is it memorable? Is it meaningful? Does it say some- thing about you or your business? Does it suggest your role in company? Does it project meaninglessness or generic empti- ness? Is it playful, respectful, descriptive or bland beyond words? You may believe it is none of these, but you are wrong if you think nobody cares. Your email address speaks volumes.
In 1979, CompuServe became first service to offer electronic mail capabilities to personal computer users. Most early adopter types were computer geeks already and were not offended by odd numeric email addresses, nor did they mind being represented digitally by a string of digits. Hence, odd looking email ID's such as email@example.com were common for years.
Now that email is becoming an expected and necessary element of business communications, be aware how often it is seen and used by clients and customers and impression it makes on them each time they see that address showing up in their in-box. Few of old Compuserve members with numbers for email addresses remain. Numbers were assigned to those early members to identify compuserve accounts and served to efficiently turn those people into bits of data for old, slow computer systems of just a few years ago.
Unfortunately, we seem to be headed back in that direction as more users than available names exist at service provider email accounts. If you attempt to sign up with an email account at America Online, Hotmail, Yahoo or other national internet service providers, you are likely to find that name you choose is not available. They'll offer you odd variations with strings of numbers attached to differentiate you from hundreds of others who've chosen that name. So JohnDoe654298475@aol.com might be offered instead when a John Doe gets a new AOL screen name today. The same is true of Yahoo and Hotmail addresses.
Most of us operating businesses online are aware that it is possible to have almost any name we can dream up attached to our own domain name and that we can have nearly any email address we like, but few use that ability to choose an online identity creatively or with much business sense. So it is quite common to see bland generic names such as firstname.lastname@example.org or even some web-based email accounts at generic hosts such as Hotmail or Yahoo just because small business owner is not aware that they can now have an email address that reflects their own domain name to further brand their business.
It's not unusual that small businesses use YourCompany@Yahoo.com or even something as strange and unacceptable for business as HotMamma@YooHoo.com for their professional communications when they could have a more appropriate CEO@YourCompany.com or even more common First.Last@YourCompany.com to identify them. This is bland end of spectrum but serves as a bare minimum of business email identity for your professional email communications. If you don't know how to set up your email account at your domain name, FIND OUT! It is inappropriate to conduct business with free email accounts or even AOL names.