Imagine that there is something called the "Spirit of the Internet" online; a rhythm of life, work and communications coursing through the ether for several decades. Even before commercial entities discovered and commercialized the Web, this Spirit existed as an intangible, but strong, force.
If you've ever made an email marketing error, you have probably been met with the very tangible response from the Internet at large. Perhaps you sent an unsolicited email message or SPAM or, worse yet, included everyone's name and email addresses in the email. Chances are you received a share of angry emails in response. Those emails, or flames as they have been called, are just one of the ways the Spirit of the Internet lashes back and punishes those who violate it.
Here are Three Golden Rules of E-Marketing you can follow to market in harmony with the Spirit of the Internet:
- Provide Value Look for ways you can provide value to the Internet and to those who use it. What information, services or products do you or can you offer that will be useful to others? Useful, of course, is relative and even entertainment has value. How will you create value rather than make waste and clutter online?
- Be Clear Look closely at your message, regardless of the format, to make sure it is clear and relevant to the reader, user or site visitor. Are you using the same text from your print brochure as your web site copy or are you composing text for the online medium? Is your email marketing message long and confusing or short and sweet? Are you being clear to others besides yourself?
As you proceed with your e-marketing campaign, here are some do's and don'ts to consider in order to have a more successful effort.
- Don't miss an opportunity. If you don't lead visitors to your web site to places where they can provide you with their contact information - at a minimum their email address - you are missing a major marketing opportunity to continue the dialogue with them once they leave your site. Find a way to encourage them to let you be in touch with them again.
- Do ask for permission. Whether you've collected emails from your web site or in some other way, make sure you ask if the person would like to receive additional information from you via email or to be added to your email list. Ask for their permission to send a regular e-newsletter to update them on sales, promotions, events or new content on your website.
- Don't spam. Spam is the term for unsolicited email; that is, email that you send to others who either do not know you or who are not expecting email from you. Remember: Just because someone has given you their email address does not mean they have given you permission to use it unless you ask for it.
- Do have a call to action. Whether on your web site, in an email or in an online marketing or advertising campaign, giving people a clear call to action or the chance to do something is important. The call to action could be to simply subscribe to your enewsletter or it might be to submit their address to enter a sweepstakes or to fill out a survey. Make sure the actions you lead others to can help you achieve your business goals.
- Do keep it short. Content that works in print, on the radio or on TV doesn't necessarily work in email or on the Web. Keep your message short and concise. Link to other content, particularly content within your web site, so that all your e-marketing efforts drive more targeted traffic to your site.
- Don't send attachments. One of the most invasive and annoying emarketing faux pas is attaching a file to an email that you send out to your email list. Besides being a common way of spreading computer viruses, email attachments can also interfere with someone's email Inbox and account. Always send your message in the body of the email.
- Do survey. Find out what your visitors, potential customers or current customers want by surveying them. You can survey them on the Web and gather and analyze data easily. Invite your site visitors to fill out your Web survey to find out not only demographic data but also behavioral data and preferences i.e. psychographics. Use the information you learn to improve how you market online.
- Don't sell your list. The email list you compile is like gold to marketers, especially if you have carefully identified each individual through surveys or forms. Do not sell your list. Unless you clearly state that the personal data provided to you by individuals will be shared or sold and people give you express permission to sell their contact information - which they usually won't do - don't do it.
- Do build a relationship. Once you have permission from people to contact them on a regular basis via email, you have opened the door to an ongoing dialogue with them. Nurture this relationship and respect their preferences. There is power when you send a marketing message to someone who actually wants to receive it, who opens it, reads it and then clicks over to your site to take action.
E-marketing is a more intimate, personal realm of communication. Learn the rules before you participate, and then do so with care. The response to a well-planned, respectful online marketing campaign will be worth the time you took to make sure you did everything right.
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