Email marketing came of age after direct marketing practitioners realized that their methods of engaging customers with postal mail could be applied to the Internet. For those who are unclear about what email marketing is, it is using email to promote offers and/or obtain new customers. Reports have proven that this is the next best marketing technique after search marketing.
You can rent a list, purchase a list based on demographics for your niche, or set up an opt-in page to gather list members from your target market. Even though it takes longer, building your own email marketin list from scratch is probably the safest and most reliable method to use.
No matter where you begin with your list building, a well-written email marketing message can gain a prospect’s trust by disclosing relevant information that helps them to make informed purchasing decisions. Email marketing also has potential to enhance relationships with existing customers if you continue to provide valuable communications that facilitate repeat or referral business.
The major advantages of email marketing is that there are multiple ways to automate your scheduled or broadcasted communications and it is much more cost-efficient than postal mail. In addition, your offers have potential to “go viral” because members of your lists can easily forward messages to friends and colleagues who they feel might be interested, which increases your opportunities to make sales and add new customers to your email marketing lists.
Within a relatively short period of time, a large audience can be identified and targeted. Autoresponders, like Aweber, allow you to monitor the responsiveness of your list with email open statistics and click through rates on your embedded links. They can also help you craft a message that won’t be filtered out by built-in spam catchers.
The sales ratios of your email marketing campaigns or inquiries from members of your list may lead you to new ideas for products and services. Email enables you to engage your customers in dialogue that helps you to scope your new product development by inviting list members to take surveys or provide feedback on ideas that you are forming. Talk about convenience!
How Much and How Often?
Loose statistics from direct marketing resources indicates that new customers may need to hear about an offer up to 10 times before making a purchasing decision. Equally important is that your messages must be timed in such a way that your new list members don’t feel overwhelmed. For example, I’ve enrolled in campaigns and opted out immediately after receiving multiple messages in quick succession or too many notes in a week.
In my opinion, more than one email marketing message a day is too many. I’m also of the opinion that more than a couple (3 or more) email marketing messages a week is too much volume, particularly prior to conversion. Setting up your campaigns to send email every 4th day, or so, keeps your offer on the prospect’s mind without seeming overly aggressive. That is the whole idea, right?
If all of your all of your email marketing messages are pitching something, people will learn to ignore you. Keep your email marketing messages relevant and brief. Most folks are dealing with information overload when they peruse their email inbox so your subjects must stand out if you expect your email to get opened. Using fantastic email marketing titles that compel people to open may work according to some people but it also can make you seem less trustworthy. To earn and keep the confidence of your list members, stick to actual facts about your offer and try writing messages that DON’T require disclaimers in tiny print at the bottom of the note. 🙂
Email Marketing Can Have a Dark Side
Some companies collect email addresses of people illegally and send irrelevant mails to them, which can be very annoying. To get past spam filters, these messages will often have many lines of irrelevant text below the offer with “safe” words in them.
Some hackers intentionally design an email that looks like an advertisement but, when the ads are clicked, malicious software is downloaded that creates headaches for an unsuspecting or naive end user. I will never understand why smart people, like hackers must be, use their creativity and talent to wreak havoc on people! Even though your email marketing message is not malicious, you need to understand that everyone with a computer and email has heard one or more horror story and this will affect the success of your campaigns … especially if you have purchased or rented a list.
In my previous post, I discussed the highlights of the CAN-SPAM act of 2003. Caution is recommended for any list you choose to join but this does not keep you from receiving unsolicited email marketing, just as postal regulations do not restrict sending demographic based mail to your home.
Since the CAN-SPAM act only applies to US businesses, it is legal to initiate an email marketing campaign from a purchased or rented list as long as a physical address and a functional opt-out is included in the message, and email marketers are allowed up to 10 days following the request to remove people, the CAN-SPAM act seems to protects marketers more than consumers. Sadly, my single voice isn’t loud enough to get these laws changed anytime soon and corporate entities with much more influence than me are working hard to loosen SPAM regulations, not tighten them.
Most email clients and webmail systems have spam filtering capabilities that can help to keep your inbox clean but those algorithms aren’t perfect. How many times have you found a legitimate messages in your spam folder? How many legitimate messages have you accidentally deleted?
Email Marketing is Only ONE Marketing Channel
As the saying goes, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. This is especially true for marketing and advertising expenses. Email marketing is a great tool for building your business out there but you should also be testing other marketing methods and you should always be tracking the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Go forth and prosper, and make sure you use this marketing method wisely.
Email marketing is a proven method of developing a relationship with your customers and, if that relationship is properly developed and nurtured, a way to generate affiliate cash flow when you need it. All that is well and good, but when your opt-out doesn’t result in being opted out, email marketing campaigns can result in driving business away.
One of the inboxes that I own began receiving email from Elizabeth Jackson. Since I used to know an Elizabeth Jackson, I was enthused to see her name. It was disappointing to find an advertisement for Work At Home jobs when I opened the email.
I used the option to unsubscribe, more than a dozen times during the past 3 months, and I continued to get email from Elizabeth Jackson from different email addresses. Each time, I opted out again. Further research today helped me deduce that Elizabeth Jackson is a fictitious name used to “protect the affiliates” who are promoting a certain CPA campaign offered by Clickbooth, to get income. Clickbooth advertises themselves as the “exclusive CPA Network” who is ranked #1 by Website Magazine.
Ok, that is all legal but my question today is, who is protecting me, or others who didn’t invite these CPA email offers?
SPAM and the Consumer
Prior to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, I was forced to close a business email account that was being overwhelmed by no less than 50+ messages an hour in a language I couldn’t even read! Things have gotten better, for sure, but it is possible to be in compliance of that act and still be doing nothing other than irritating customers or prospects. Case in Point: Elizabeth Jackson.
Here are some CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 cliff notes:
- It is an opt-out law and, for most purposes, permission of the e-mail recipient is not required. If a recipient wants to unsubscribe or opt-out, however, you’d better stop sending e-mails you are at risk of being subject to severe civil and criminal penalties.
- Fraudulent or deceptive subjects, headers, return addresses, etc., are prohibited.
- Sending sexually explicit email without clear markings is a criminal act.
- Email marketers must have a functional opt-out system that is easy for consumers to use and is operational for at least 30-days following each mailing.
- Email messages should include a physical address of the company in the email.
- Spammers AND those who procure their services are culpable and both can be prosecuted.
- Personal emails, and perhaps non-profit emails, are not addressed by the act. It applies to all US businesses who are sending commercial email of a transactional nature.
SPAM and the Business Owner
Looking over the guidelines again, a smile came to my face. I do feel that some of the earnings claims in subject lines from a few of the internet marketing lists that I’ve joined are nothing other than deceptive, in spite of their disclaimers. This is especially true when the click through leads to a product or service that was not developed by the sender. But I am a perpetual student of marketing methods and completely understand that this is how affiliate programs work. 🙂
Email marketing is a good business strategy, especially for affiliate marketers. At Flippa, sites with lists are worth more than other sites at the time of sale. Thus, whether your motivation in launching a site is to build a Niche Empire or develop a site to later sell for profit, building an email marketing list is very important!
An apparent loophole in the CAN-SPAM Act, which is always exploited by senders of unsolicited email, allows email marketers have up to 10-days to complete an unsubscribe request. Although those business owners are adhering to the letter of the law, I find it absurd. All the autoresponders that I have ever used or recommended facilitate immediate removal from a list.
Pick Up The Phone!
In my desperation to stop getting three more months of unsolicited email from Elizabeth Jackson, whom I now know is a fake person, I was prepared to send a snail mail letter but I dug deep enough to find a phone number to call. I did allude to the CAN-SPAM act during my call, which may have inspired them to be more attentive, but that remains to be seen. Regardless, it was comforting to actually speak with someone who listened to my concerns and gathered up the email addresses that I wanted to eradicate from their lists.
The phone seems to have gone out of fashion but the truth remains that consumers sometimes need a phone number to call. Business owners might conclude that including a phone number on your primary sales page footers or within the terms and conditions page at your site is a good idea for owners of affiliate programs. After all, the program owner is equally exposed to the fines and penalties outlined in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, and they are legally obligated to manage the affiliates who are issuing email marketing messages on their behalf.