Email Marketing Without SPAMming
by Aaron Turpen
A few months ago, I wrote a series of articles on online marketing -
the last of which dealt with email marketing and SPAM. This article
in particular garnered many responses from readers both for and
against the idea of mass-email marketing of any type. You can read
that article online at this URL:
Although that article is itself a great resource, I still find
myself being asked questions about the use of email marketing
online. Since I didn't go into depth about the specifics of
marketing using email in that previous article, I thought another
was in order.
How do you go about sending email or marketing yourself online
without crossing into the "SPAMmer" category? First and foremost,
KNOW WHO YOU ARE SENDING YOUR EMAIL TO. You don't have to be
familiar with each recipient personally, but you'd better know
whether or not they really want to hear what you have to offer.
Always keep that in mind when sending an email to anyone, especially
if it's an email meant to market your product or service.
Building An Opt-In List
For anyone with an established website and a known web presence,
building an opt-in list is generally an easy affair. The best type
of list is the "double opt-in list." This simply means that the
subscriber to the list was required to complete at least two steps -
apart from one another - to join the list. Usually this means that
the user filled out a web form (name, email, etc.) and submitted
it. They were then emailed with a "click here to activate your
subscription"-type link. Once they click on the link, they are
subscribed to the list. This strategy prevents those who aren't
sure what they're doing from joining and, more importantly, keeps
Bob from signing up his friend/enemy Larry without Larry's consent.
I recommend you find someone who specializes in newsletter list
keeping and delivery (such as Topica - http://www.qksrv.net/click-
1357406-10280459) to do this for you.
Whether your website is brand new or well established, you should be
collecting customer contact information (email addresses in
particular) for further contact. You can provide a free newsletter,
periodic updates via email, or "exclusive opportunities" for those
who join. There must be some kind of incentive or you won't gather
many email addresses. For an established website, this is usually
enough. You already have traffic to see your offer and sign up.
You need do little more.
For the new site, though, this is only a portion of the battle. The
real effort comes in marketing your offer to drive traffic to your
website and build your opt-in list. There are a LOT of great ways
to do this without causing much of a stir. My favorite is to
participate meaningfully in discussion lists related to your
business. I spend a lot of time in Web Design and Development
forums speaking with others in the business as well as amateurs just
looking for tips and help. Doing this without pushing myself down
people's throats has gained me both fame and website traffic.
Another way to gather fast results is to advertise in newsletters/e-
zines related to your business. Every business has trade, gossip,
or news-related publications both on and offline. An advertisement
in an e-zine online can get you 3,000 people looking at an ad you
only spent $10 to list! The best thing about the Internet is that
these ads can usually include a hyperlink so that they can read your
ad (which hopefully contains some kind of call-to-action) and
immediately click through to your website!
In addition to all this, there are some great tools at Roving Web
(http://www.qksrv.net/click-1357406-1668329) for the email
marketer. They offer free trials on many of their services and give
top-notch service to their customers.
A slower and more time-consuming way to get the word out is to talk
to the publishers of these e-zines, the writers who write articles
for them, and even to the website owners of related websites and
tell them about your product, service, or offer. If what you have
seems interesting enough, they may write an article or include
a "blurb" free of charge! Or even trade links with you so you can
help each other promote your individual websites.
You Have The List, What Now?
Now that you've got a list of those interested, you'll have more
considerations. The first is the question of how each individual
subscriber will remove themselves from your list if they so desire.
Most list maintenance programs allow for this. At the very
simplest, you can make sure they know how to email or contact you
for removal. Make sure that EVERYTHING you send to this list of
subscribers includes instructions for removal from the list. Not
doing so immediately places you into the "SPAMmer" category.
What will you use to email to this list? There are a lot of
options, including online email services, server-based bulk mail
handlers, and PC-based software that does the same through your
Internet connection. Each has pros and cons to consider. For
instance, the online service may or may not store your list for you
and therefore you may have worries about them stealing the list and
selling it. This can happen. Another example is the PC-based
system. If you routinely send out several thousand emails from your
Internet account, your ISP may start to wonder just what it is
you're doing. Many will shut you down and ask questions later.
Make sure they are aware of what you're doing and don't have a
problem with it. This will keep you out of hot water.
Again, a great way to keep out of hot water is to use a professional
service to handle your list, email your newsletters, and even write
the newsletters for you! I recommend Topica
(http://www.qksrv.net/click-1357406-10280459), Roving Web
(http://www.qksrv.net/click-1357406-1668329), and eZine4Hire
(http://www.eZine4Hire.com) for these services.
What and When To Send
Don't send things willy-nilly to your list. The more often you send
things, the more often you will have people wanting to unsubscribe
to avoid your constant barrage. As a general rule, sending twice a
week at maximum is acceptable. The shorter your emails, the less
likely you are to receive complaints or unsubscriptions.
Don't send more than you have to. If you are sending your emails
using an HTML format, make sure the design is simple, clean, and
uses few graphics. The more you use, the larger the email. The
larger the email, the longer it takes to download and view.
Whatever you do, DO NOT include browser-control "features" or code
that automatically redirects the browser to a website. Very few
people like these and it's not widely supported by many email
clients, so a lot of your readers may see only garbage in their
Only send useful information for your readers. Don't send
information that you wouldn't want to read if you were a prospective
customer. Your email recipients probably don't want to read about
your dog Tilly, your son's graduation from Webelos, or your new-
found love of dirt farming. They want to know how you're work/offer
is going to benefit THEM. And they want to know this in as little
time as possible. Try not to ramble. This is my biggest
When You're Accused of SPAMming
When you do receive a SPAM complaint - and you will, eventually -
try to be professional about it. Remove the person from your list
immediately and, if needed, send all pertinent details (including
Policy) to those who need it. Let the person know, in a business-
like and non-aggressive manner, that they have been removed from
your list and will not receive further contact from you. From then
on, it's best to just ignore them if they continue to harass you
with complaints. So long as they aren't receiving any more of your
emails (without signing up for them), they have nothing to complain
Despite the horror stories you may have heard (usually perpetrated
by SPAMmers who don't want SpamCop or similar services to exist),
you will NOT be blacklisted after only one or two complaints. It
takes several complaints about the same instance and issue to get
blacklisted. Even then, these lists are generally temporary and
will only last a few months at the longest. Unless you are a REAL
SPAMmer or are ignoring one of the fundamental rules of non-SPAM
emailing, you will never get yourself listed on one of those lists.
In the end, email is still a great marketing tool when used
properly. If you take the time to do the research, learn what you
need to know, and employ the tools you need to use; you will benefit
greatly from this powerful marketing tool. If, instead, you rely on
purchased "safe lists" and use nefarious tools like "header
screens," you'll eventually reap the painful rewards you're due.
Aaron Turpen is the proprietor of eZine4hire.com. Does your
business need a newsletter? Don't have time to do it right? Come
to us! You can get an e-zine for as little as $4.95/issue!
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