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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Email is still one of the most productive marketing tools you can use to sell your products and services. Email is extremely valuable for developing a personal relationships with existing customers, delivering valuable content, and cross-selling your services.

Those who don't believe in the power of email simply are not using email effectively. Chances are these are the same individuals who send out mass emails without segmentation or an understanding of how to move consumers through the purchase decision process.

Here are a few key factors to consider when using email to market.

1. Build your house list. Emails that receive the highest open and click-through rates are generated from the emails you collect in-house. Said another way, a house list is a database of email addresses that you've collected from individuals exchanging information with you on your website.

The easiest and most efficient way to build your house list is to offer an email sign-up (for a newsletter, promotion, or access to valuable information) on every page of your website. The more individuals who opt-in, the greater your database and chance for building profitable customer relationships.

2. Be relevant. This may seem obvious, but if you're sending the same email to everyone on you email list, you may have fallen into this trap. Relevancy is more than delivering a message that recipients find valuable, it's also timing your message according to a recent action, event, or behavior.

For example, if someone has recently singed up for a newsletter, engage them immediately. Even if you next newsletter doesn't come out for another month, provide them with the existing month's newsletter or access to your newsletter archive. If someone is taking the time to raise their hand and opt-in for your information, which is clearly relevant to their wants, don't make them wait.

3. Provide something of value. If you're not providing something of value, you'll quickly find your database of email subscribers dwindling. Users will only open your email if you provide valuable information, tools, resources, or content that they find useful. When developing your email program, be sure to think it through and solicit feedback from your audience to continually enhance value.

4. Don't ignore CAN-SPAM legislation. Be sure to post your privacy policy. If you don't have one, use a sample Click here and customize it with your site's information. Additionally, be sure to list your company's address at the bottom of your emails and provide a way for users to opt-out. When a recipient chooses to opt-out, make sure you remove their name within 10 days of the request.

5. Develop an opt-out page. It still amazes me that many marketers are still using a generic opt-out. Smart marketers are using an opt-out page with between 8 and 12 opt out options. For example, is the user opting out of "important updates regarding their account"? Or maybe just "the monthly newsletter"? The key is to offer options so that users get the information that's important to them and you retain the right to contact them.

Delivering effective email campaigns can be learned. The one thing to keep in mind is that if you want to get results from your email, than work through the consumers purchase decision process (by product, by segment). If your email program can move individuals through this process in an effective way, email will be more than electronic messaging – it will become a revenue driver!


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