E-Mail or Online Forms
E-mail showed enormous potential as a method of supplying
and gathering information on the Internet. It was looked upon as the perfect vehicle
to use, allowing businesses to get close to their Online customers. However, the
status and method of marketing by e-mail has changed considerably. Unsolicited
individual or bulk e-mail (both better known today as SPAM) -- containing unwanted or
blatant sales pitches -- has quickly become the scourge of internet.
Consequently, the majority of reputable and conscientious businesses have moved away from
SPAM and gotten into an opt-in system (That is, e-mail by request).
The idea of (opt-in) permission email is to get visitors
to your web site to complete a survey regarding their needs or likes as they are related
to your products or services. Or have your visitors complete a simple request
form that they can complete online, requesting information or bargain offers related to
their likes or requirements.
Opt-in (permission) e-mail advertising is without question
the most under used form of Internet advertising (although that's beginning to change).
Research indicates that that click-through rates are higher than with banner
advertising, targetability is excellent, and it is completely voluntary.
The key is to put yourself squarely in the shoes of the
customer. What does he/she want/need?
One example of a simple, but effective Opt-in Email
Survey Form - we designed for a successful travel site for ForCuba.com.
The purpose of the Survey Form was two-fold.
- To obtain travel information, that
ForCuba Travel would use
to improve the products and service to all their customers. All the
information obtained via the survey form is treated as confidential, to be used
exclusively by ForCuba, and never supplied to third parties. Each visitor that
completes the Online Survey, has his/her name made eligible for a monthly prize draw.
- To request every visitors permission to receive by regular
mail, e-mail or fax, information on travel specials or unique travel opportunities, based
on the indicated travel interests each visitor has completed on the Travel interests
segment of the Survey Form.
I think the benefits of the Opt-in E-mail program speak for
themselves. However, beware! If you want permission to translate into
long-term sales and a growing (ROI) return-on-investment, you need to keep that permission
fresh and renewed. With each sending of a permission e-mail, you must give the
recipient the opportunity to renew, refresh or even withdraw his/her permission as part of
the message or offer.
In an opt-in- based online relationship, the customer's
perception is your reality. So please, treat that permission with great care.
Look after it. Respect it. Renew it. You must continue to earn it.
Otherwise, the entire concept of (opt-in) permission e-mail marketing could become nothing
more than unwanted SPAM to all recipients.
There are a number of services which you can offer on your
web site which allow visitors to be rewarded for receiving permission e-mail in the
categories they select. There's www.mypoints.com, www.polk.com and
www.clickrewards.com. Also, Internet News Bureau exists to deliver press
releases and web site announcements to a large number of online journalists who have asked
to receive information in specific categories. Check out
www.postmasterdirect.com if you wish to get to specific target groups by targeted e-mail.
A final note: NEVER buy bulk e-mail lists and send
unsolicited messages to these people. This is SPAM and it will create hostility in
people, or they will simply delete your message unread. If a targeted bulk e-mail
program is offered to you. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Check them out thoroughly, and
determine the validity of the lists they are offering you -- regardless of the so-called
So quickly... what should you do? Start with an
attitude that opt-in e-mail is a genuine service that the customer/prospect will
appreciate. Be certain it's targeted to interested parties and completely
voluntary. Make your e-mails succinct and gently remind the recipient that your
e-mail is something that he/she requested. Then.... if your product or service is
subject to variations in price (great specials), timing issues (limited time offer), and
provides good information (of real and known interest), you may have a winning formula for
generating new sales.
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