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Implementing an Effective E-mail Marketing Campaign
By: Bruce Coker
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    Table of Contents:
  • Implementing an Effective E-mail Marketing Campaign
  • Maintaining the data
  • Choosing a system

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    Implementing an Effective E-mail Marketing Campaign

    (Page 1 of 3 )

    If there was an award for the dirtiest words in IT, the chances are that "e-mail marketing" would run a close second only to "spam." In many people's minds there is no distinction between the two. But in these challenging economic conditions, the distribution of solicited information to genuinely interested potential customers can form a significant element of any promotional effort.

    The secret is to stay on the right side of spam, ensuring that marketing e-mails are precisely targeted at those who actively want to receive them, and that the content is highly relevant to the recipient. This article will discuss the fundamentals necessary in order to achieve this goal, outlining the steps necessary to implement this potentially most cost-effective and efficient of marketing systems.

    Elements of success

    Despite its poor reputation, e-mail marketing continues to grow in popularity. This is illustrated by a statement from B2B e-mail service provider Pinpointe, who announced that it had signed a record number of customers to its On-Demand e-mail marketing platform in October 2008. While the rest of the economy shrinks, e-mail marketing continues to grow, due in large to its low cost and proven effectiveness.

    So what exactly are Pinpointe and its competitors offering to make their services so attractive? The first thing to note is that phrase "On-Demand." The key to running a successful campaign is building an opt-in list of people who are actively interested in receiving your materials. Growing such a list takes time, but this is a necessary investment in the campaign's long-term health.

    The surest route to a failed campaign is to use an unstructured, untargeted list. Even though this may result in a number of responses, it will certainly alienate more potential customers than it will attract. It will also never result in a sustainable target list, as it will be almost impossible to identify critical success metrics such as why those who responded chose to do so.

    A carefully assembled list is far preferable to such a scatter-gun approach. Meticulously recording inquiries generated through conventional avenues such as trade shows, association lists and via your web site will result in a self-selecting sample of interested parties. Each of these needs to be approached in a personal, respectful and informed manner to see if they wish to opt in to receive additional marketing materials. And if they are confident that such materials will be relevant to their requirements, there is a high probability that they will do so.

    This leads us on to the second key to success, which is neatly summed up in the axiom "educate, don't sell." In a world awash with marketing material, and especially in a shrinking economy, the campaign that offers something of tangible value is far more likely to be successful than one which simply sings the praises of a company or product. An educational approach can also help to give your potential customers a high degree of confidence that your products and services will work for them, because they have already benefited from what you have given away for nothing.

    It might be hard to see exactly how you can find an angle for your particular product or service, and this is where some serious creative thinking comes in. You might be able to offer a weekly or monthly selection of tips and tricks. In many cases, a more formal white paper distributed to the list is more appropriate. Question and answer sessions using expert contributors are another excellent and highly interactive way to distribute knowledge.

    A more expensive but notably higher quality approach is to produce a "webinar" - an online lecture or workshop - again preferably presented by an expert, or at least somebody who is well known in the field. Although too costly to produce for free on an ongoing basis, as a one-off this can be an opportunity to offer an experience of substantial value to your commercial targets. And of course if it's well-produced and relevant, a recorded version can be distributed time and again to new members on your contacts list.

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