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WEBSITE MARKETING

Email Marketing Without SPAMming
By: Developer Shed
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    2003-11-17

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    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:
    http://www.aaronzwebworkz.com/resources/newsletter/articles.shtml?
    spam

    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
    email.

    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
    struggle. :

    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
    the signup process and a copy of your Privacy Policy or Anti-SPAM
    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
    about.

    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!
    http://www.eZine4hire.com
    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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