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Just as in the conventional market, directly mailing your offers to prospects is a very attractive way of reaching a targeted audience. The difference is that sending out an Email mailshot is far, far cheaper than its postal equivalent. There are basically two types of Email marketing:
What are opt-in lists?
Lists of targeted individuals that have approved and requested to receive commercial email pertaining to subjects they have indicated their interest in. Heres a few Web sites where you can source opt-in lists:
However, in the long term, a better way to use direct email by far, is to generate your own lists rather than rent them from opt-in sources. This is in much the same way that your own database in the traditional marketplace is always going to produce more effective results, than a bought-in list of prospects with whom youve never had any relationship before.
The easiest and most basic way for you to begin building your own list is to produce your own Ezine or newsletter somewhere along the line. Its a great way of capturing email addresses and thus building your own personal online database. This will allow you to keep in regular contact with your prospects and customers. To offer new services/products or make them regular offers etc.
The most effective ways to gather subscribers are to post offers to your free newsletter in related newsgroups, discussion groups (i.e. mailing lists) and ezines. You should also place a link on your home page offering visitors subscription to your free newsletter.
Even in the early days when you have no newsletter/ezine, or indeed if you never intend to publish one, you should still encourage your visitors to email you. Encourage them to ask you questions, to pass on their comments about your site ... anything ... as long as you can encourage communication. Do this and every day you can add to your own self-generated list (which can build up extremely quickly).
A Word About Email
As with traditional business practices, customer service is extremely important for your long term success. In fact, it can be far more of an issue, so do take the following on board:
1. You must respond to email requests and queries quickly. This isnt like the postal system, people using email expect answers within a day, maybe two or three at the very latest. You can not afford to put emails to one side for a few days, as is often the case with paper queries.
2. Get into the habit of checking your email box several times a day. Dont just check once in the morning and leave it at that. Its just so vital that you are quick to reply.
3. Another common mistake is the failure to follow up after your initial reply. Its a great way of building a relationship with a prospect. Even if its just to check if they received your original email reply, it gives you a good excuse to mail them again and to subtly promote a new feature on your site, new product etc. Anything to get them to return to your Web site. At the very least include your signature file (which you should do in all emails you send).
4. Dont leave it too many days to email your prospect again after you sent them your original email response either. With the amount of email individuals are getting on a daily basis, if you leave it over say 2 weeks before contacting them again, they may not even fully recall you. Many people regularly delete and trash old email messages.
5. Keep tabs of the questions you are being asked. Generally, the majority of queries/requests youll receive will be asked time and time again. Dont waste time answering these same questions again and again. Instead, either list the answers to Frequently Asked Questions on your Web site or file your answers away so that the next time you are asked the same question (or the same request is made), you can quickly just paste the answer into your reply.
6. When a person places an order with you, ALWAYS respond with a follow-up email just to let the recipient know that you have received their order, that it is being processed and give them an indication when they are likely to be in receipt. And of course make sure you thank your customer for their business.
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