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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Customer acquisition marketing is the process of identifying, approaching and fostering new customer relationships. Whether you are the Coca-Cola Company or simply selling your handcrafted garden gnomes, you need leads in order to gain profit. Lead generation can use many different customer acquisition strategies; the newest is the World Wide Web. 

The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) states that online lead generation is the fastest growing category in online ad spending. The internet is a vast universe full of opportunities for marketers—blogs, forums, social bookmarking sites, directories and the trickiest one: email. Email is, in theory, a great way to reach your target audience. However, there is a one huge concept to fear…the e-marketing graveyard…the spam folder. 

What is spam?
We’ve all seen them, and possibly cursed them under our breaths; they are spam emails. Spam refers to any unwanted, unproductive and unethical activity done over the internet. 13 billion spam emails are sent everyday and any email user will receive approximately 3000 spam emails per year, how annoying! Email carriers have cleverly learned to create spam folders where users can mark messages as spam or sometimes the folder will even auto-detect messages that appear to be spam. This is a great tool… for actual spam at least. But when you’re using email as a customer acquisition strategy, it’s your worst nightmare! Not all unfamiliar emails are from future African princes that need money wired to them now or a stay-at-home mom that made $70,000 from home last year, and I can teach you how to distinguish yourself from the spammers. 

Why use email marketing?
If there’s a big chance of being marked as spam and ignored, why use email marketing? Well, because it can be worth it. Some of the top marketers have gained 40% conversion rates using opt-in (which I will discuss later) email customer acquisition marketing. Also, close to four million people have an email account and 47% check it daily. That’s a huge number of inboxes your company’s information could end up in, now you just have to make sure not to end up marked as spam. 

Why you should avoid the spam folder
63% of email users have never checked their spam folders. If your genuine newsletter or promotion ends up in there, you might as well consider it dead and buried. Not only will no one really see it, but once a single email from your company is marked as spam, it could cause your company’s email addresses to be blocked by a lot email service providers. Your site can be blocked by the search engines too, making it impossible for leads to see not just your e-mail, but your site completely! 

Now, no one will see your e-mail, your company’s reputation is bruised, and no one can search for your site. You may think that’s the worst that can happen, but even the government can get involved. The CAN-SPAM law (Federal Senate Bill 877) was signed by George Bush in December 2003. Although this law has done little to minimize spam, any company using email marketing solutions that receives a 0.5% or more of their total sent messages as spam complaints will suffer serious deliverability penalties, and you don’t want that. 

How to not be a spammer
First of all, you need to learn the difference between unsolicited email and solicited email (also known as opt-in email). Any message where the recipient has not agreed to receive the message is considered an unsolicited email, aka spam. To be a solicited email, make sure to have a registration form, email/mailing list, or something along those lines and send out your message soon after the user registers, so they won’t forget who your company is. Once you have a solicited emailing list, the law makes you do a few things: 

--Make sure there is a way to opt-out permanently from the emailing list.  

--Only contact people who requested information by signing up, logging in, etc.

--Include your physical street address so they know who your company is and can contact you.

--Your message needs to be marked as an advertisement or ad in the subject line or the first few lines of body (I would recommend putting it in the body).

--Sexually orientated emails need to be clearly marked in the subject line.

    Always send emails to affiliates, or members, only. Make newsletters, offer free-trials, and use text only messages, not html. Text messages are half as likely to get reported as spam than html messages, so keep it simple. When writing your messages, choose your language carefully. Avoid talking about medication, mortgages, making money, and pornography, those are the most common spam messages. If you want to use these words, do not try to obfuscate them with extra letters or characters, this is quite spam-y. Never use attachments, and don’t over-do your images. Try joining a reputation service (there are tons out there) or get on the whitelists. Whitelists are a list of e-mail addresses/domain names that an e-mail blocking program will allow. 

    Good luck!
    I hope you enjoyed these tips on how to do customer acquisition marketing through email without ending up in the dreaded spam folder. Email marketing is a great customer acquisition strategy and good luck to everyone who tries it! 
    Special Thanks... a special thanks to Abby Barsky for today's guest blog post, and expert in customer acquisition strategy.


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