Email Marketing falls into
two general categories:
- Opt-In or Permission Based.
Spam is bad and evil. Spam
will get you banned by your Internet Service Provider. Spam
will get your domain blocked by other service providers (imagine
being invisible to AOL subscribers!). But Opt-In or Permission
based email marketing is virtually impossible to do without
support these days.
If you have to believe in something, I believe in Newsletters.
Not the expensive ones that cost an arm and a leg in print
and postage costs. No we produce incredibly inexpensive ones
with no printing, no postage... posted online.
All web sites, every one should have one thing
in common: the e-mail collector. A simple form which allows
the viewer to plug in their e-mail address and sign up for
a newsletter or product announcement. At its simplest
level, this is permission based marketing. We didn't
steal the address, we didn't sneakily abscond with it... they
volunteered it, completely without pressure.
Why on earth would they do that? Well, there's my
opinion, and then there are the studies. The studies claim
people are looking for information and amusement.
My personal opinion, based on a decade of writing for newsletters,
is that people are looking for special promotions targeted
specifically at them, the loyal reader/customer. And they
like the newsletters because they "get to know"
the business and the owners through these monthly missives.
A typical printed newsletter from a Vermont Inn will include
a recipe from their kitchen, a beautiful seasonal picture,
a calendar of events, a letter from the owner waxing eloquent
about the new upgrades to the second story rooms... and a
couple of room bargains. Some of these newsletters are quite
beautiful. The Trapp Family Lodge comes to mind. Some are
just tacky. All are expensive to produce, and not particularly
We aren't selling steak. We're selling sizzle, to
paraphrase an old salesman. Newsletters are designed to sell
the sizzle. Sell the misty, wholesome, romantic vision the
customer enjoys imagining. It works with inns, teddy bears,
fine art, antiques... there isn't a service or product out
there that isn't designed to make the buyer feel good... and
newsletters are the perfect way to convey that feeling.
But they are also designed to build a community of loyal
customers. After all, aren't happy customers your best
advertising bet? Newsletters can invite customer participation
by publishing the pictures they send in, holding essay contests,
and allowing readers to exchange advice.
It sounds like a lot of work but once you've established
the general layout of your newsletter, it is remarkably easy
Now, the truth of it is.. this used to be a whole
lot simpler. Collect email addresses, send
email to customers or potential customers. Simple. Add
email addresses from people who contacted you via your website...
more potential customers! Today, however, harvesting email
addresses and sending out bulk email will probably get you
censored by your service provider... even a business account
isn't allowed to send bulk email any more. And worse,
it might result in your whole ISP address being blocked. Everyone
on that server suffers. And trust me... these people
will not be happy with you when their sites are blocked by
New times.. new methods. There are two ways
to go... very cheap, and reasonably priced. Oh, well,
you could go for wildly expensive, but you there is no reason
to. Under very cheap there is CafePress.com
. CafePress is in the business of printing.
They print pretty much anything you can render into .jpg format
on almost anything you can imagine. From T-shirts to undies,
mugs to tiles, stickers... they print it all. They also offer,
as a free service, a newsletter, which you can customize to
your own business. Naturally, it is required that you feature
one or more of your CafePress store items in your newsletter.
But if you have a logo or several cute ideas which would look
neat on a T or slick on a mug, not only is the newsletter
free, but you'll make a commission on the sale should someone
buy a T-shirt, mug, or pair of undies.
Not the graphic design type? Then there is
Contact.com is an online service which allows you
to set up a link on your site (or have your webmaster set
up the link) through which people can sign up for your newsletter.
You can import a carefully screened email list, or even manually
input a list. And you can build newsletters through your browser
using one of their templates for speed, or design your own
from scratch if you're feeling independant. Best of
all? The first 60 days are free... and if your email list
(we hope it doesn't but if it does) remains under 50 subscribers..
it stays free. Up to 500 names will run you only $15/month
for unlimited emails.
Let's pause and think about this for a moment.
Overture, which many people pay as a reflex action runs $20-25/month
minimum. Print media? Don't get me started. Online banner
ads... minimum of $30/month for a decent site. Reaching out
and touching potential customers and keeping your business
in the forefront of their thoughts?
$15/month for 500 names. Plus, of course,
an investment in writing that newsletter. The excuses for
not writing newsletters are abundant and sometimes even creative.
If half that creativity went into writing a newsletter, you'd
really have something. Does this sound familiar?
I have nothing to say. Well, of course you
don't, sitting there in front of your computer with writer's
block. Start a Word Document file named "newsletter."
Every time a good idea pops into your head, jot it down in
your file and save it. Or on a slip of paper if you're not
a geek. Then when you sit down to write your newsletter,
you'll find you have a wealth of things to say.
I don't have time. Ok people... this is
how print media sells advertising to you and yours. Because
we have the feeling if we throw money at the problem, instead
of time, magically we'll hit the right audience with this
scattergun approach. Give it up. Take the money you are going
to save by not advertising in print and spend it on help in
the garden, around the property, or in the kitchen... and
make time to work a newsletter.
People aren't interested. If they're not
interested, they'll opt out of your newsletter. Until they
do that, you can't make this assumption. People are
very interested in different lifestyles, vacation ideas, slice
of life stories, recipes; in short, what you have to offer.
I'm not a geek... I can't do this. This
is why, out of all the vendors available, we carefully chose
Constant Contact. Because you can do this, right through your
browser, with a minimum of technical background. You'll need
to have a snippet of code or a link put on your website to
manage the email sign up, but your webmaster can do that for
The effort required to attract and make a sale to
a new customer is expodential compared to the effort required
to make a sale to someone who is already familiar with you
and your product and generally happy with your service. Email
has the advantage of being virtually free, easy to use, relatively
painless, and... viral. Your customer may find it so interesting,
they forward it on to someone else.
what are you waiting for? The first 60 days are free!
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