delivering targeted e-mail messages that are tailored to the specific interests of each recipient. Well-crafted e-mail messages can boost sales, drive web-site traffic, generate brand awareness, promote customer loyalty, attract prospects, and enhance customer relationship management. Efficient e-mail list systems can deliver messages almost instantaneously to points all over the world. It is also an economic tool that stimulates rapid response and higher click-through rates relative to banner ads and traditional direct marketing.
Considering the prolific use of this communication medium, the quantity of messages that are being delivered is growing exponentially, thus saturating people's e-mail in-boxes with various offers ranging from reduced airfares to discount book specials. As a result of this, readers need to cut through the clutter by adopting some type of filtering mechanism. Obvious "spam" messages are
automatically discarded as well as any unwelcome e-mail addresses spotted in the "From:" line. Companies that do not previously ask for permission to send messages run the risk of being identified as "spammers". Likewise, messages lacking to provide useful information will shortly fall into the category of the unwelcome e-mails. Instead of falling into the group of e-mails that are
automatically discarded, marketers can easily become a valuable resource simply by providing the information that they requested, thus heightening the overall effectiveness of their one-to-one e-mail relationships.
The foundation lies in building a "clean" list of people that have re-confirmed their willingness to receive information via e-mail. By collecting their information into a customer database, marketers can efficiently define the appropriate audience for each one of their messages. Furthermore, they can identify their audience's specific interests and craft personalized messages for each.
By following these basic guidelines, marketers have the assurance that they are sending a unique message to each person, which will differentiate it as a valuable resource.
#1/ Build a "clean" list
A permission-based list consists of people who have voluntarily subscribed to your list, thus accepting to receive your commercial messages. Interacting with a "clean" list, not only assures that you are delivering your messages to people that are interested in your company, but it also respects the privacy of your business contacts. Even though you may have collected people's e-mail address
for other communication purposes, it does not mean that they have agreed to receive your e-mail marketing messages. Clear permission should be granted beforehand.
The most effective way to compile a list is through advertisements on your web site. CNN.com only gathers subscriptions on their web site. They currently have more than 30 lists with a subscriber base that ranges from 1,000 to 400,000 members for each list, and have immediate plans to grow their newsletters two- to three-fold.
To avoid third parties from adding people to your list without their consent, subscription requests can be re-confirmed with a reply message from the person's e-mail account. As you are collecting information for each subscriber, you can refine your database by asking for additional demographic information. Understanding the needs of your customer will make it easy for you to define your audience
as well as create unique messages for each one. To conserve both an updated list and database, make it easy for your readers to modify their information in your database as well as the option of signing off your list whenever they wish. You can provide clear instructions for this at the foot of each message that you send to the list.
LifeMinders.com is a leading online direct marketing company that provides personalized content and advertisements via e-mail to a loyal community of members. Their members can choose to receive messages in 16 categories. For this, they have constructed a database that consists of 700,000 to 6,000,000 members in each of the categories, with an approximate total of over 8,000,000 members.
Their members have provided them with detailed interest and demographic profiles that they use to send targeted, customized newsletters every week. They have application programs that allow editors to write and target their content so that no two members might receive the same e-mail. They collect information such as age, breed of dog/cat, zip code, region, and so on.
#2/ Define your audience
By leveraging the information that is stored in your database, you are able to push content that is tailored to your audience's requests. You can perform queries of your database in order to define the appropriate audience for each one of your messages. This assures that you will be sending your readers pertinent information. As a result, customers will most likely begin to highly value your e-mail service.
The risk of not targeting your marketing messages may lead your readers to automatically discard all of your future messages after they have received some with irrelevant information. Being selective will increase your ability to build a relationship of trust and loyalty with your readers, thus increasing the effectiveness of your messages.
Harris Interactive uses e-mail lists to conduct market researches. Individual volunteers participate in various online market research and polling studies, signing up to answer questions of a wide variety of subjects including health care, economy, science and technology, foreign affairs, politics, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles. For this, Harris Poll takes advantage
of the ability to interact with their extensive database in order to use mail-merge capabilities to customize their messages. They currently pull samples from their database of over 5 million members and deliver between 500,000 to 1,500,000 customized messages every day.
#3/ Personalize your messages
The ability to construct personalized messages provides the advantage of maintaining one-to-one relationships with each reader, thus heightening the effectiveness of your interactions. By extracting specific information from your customer database you are able to perform simple merges such as "Dear ", as well as complicated customizations such as preparing billing statements that include customer account number, services rendered, product purchased and so forth.
Bell Canada, a telecommunications services company, uses the information within their database to send via e-mail highly customized billing statements, billing history, notifications and any announcements to their customer base.
All Advantage, an Internet infomediary that is redefining the way that consumers and advertisers communicate and do business together, provides consumers with a way to profit from their time online. The company prefers to personalize their messages mainly because they want their members to feel connected to them since they are such a large community. Performing mail merges are also useful since they have a worldwide membership base and want to contact
each country with country-specific information.
To profit from e-mail marketing you should strive to build a solid relationship with your readers by providing them with high-quality content that they have requested. As more and more companies start doing business on the Internet, it becomes more difficult for Internet users to differentiate between vendors. It is most likely that they will prefer companies they are familiar with and which provide them reliable resources and solutions.
Gabriela Linares is Vice President of Marketing at L-Soft, premier provider of e-mail list communication solutions for the management of personalized direct e-mail marketing, e-mail newsletters and discussion groups. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org