Building Consumer Trust Through Direct E-Mail Campaigns

E-commerce is exploding around the world, but one vital barrier is keeping it from reaching its full potential: the barrier of trust.

E-commerce is exploding around the world, but one vital barrier is keeping it from reaching its full potential: the barrier of trust.

In your business, building trust is probably a daily occupation — you make commitments to your customers, and you deliver, building the trust that upholds your professional reputation. The Internet has the potential to supercharge your marketing by providing a platform to reach not only thousands, but literally millions of potential new customers. But how can these strangers come to trust you, if your first point of presence in their lives is an unsolicited e- mail message?

Internet marketing consultant Peter Temes, president of Enterprise Interactive [], suggests these four key steps to building trust through e-mail:

First, help your audience know who you are. Introduce yourself personally — don’t pretend that a machine wrote the e-mail message. Using a brief line of introduction like this can help build the feeling of familiarity, and some initial level of trust: “I’m a professional software programmer with a decade of work experience building e- commerce applications for large corporations, and I’m writing to see whether you might be interested in learning more about the services my company can offer.” There’s not a lot of hype in that kind of introduction, but it does succeed in making the connection feel a bit more credible than a generic “Buy My Product” commercial message.

Second, don’t pretend that your e-mail message isn’t a commercial message, and don’t pretend it was invited if it wasn’t. Temes has had great success with a commercial message that begins this way: “My apologies for dropping into your e-mail box uninvited. I will not waste your time.” To avoid offending users, he only sends a message like this to someone he’s been in touch with before.

Third, make a promise, and deliver on it. Include a link to a Web site that provides real value to visitors, and make a commitment to your e-mail audience like this: “Visit to find information about some of the finest Italian wines, available only through the Internet.” IF the content at the other end of that link does indeed offer valuable information — not just a sales pitch — and the wine promoted there is indeed some of the finest in Italy, then you’re on your way to building credibility.

Finally, include traditional contact information at the end of your e- mail. Smart buyers like to know as much as possible about the people they buy from, and a reply e-mail address is a sketchy bit of information. Sign your e-mails personally, and include a telephone number and a street address to help your readers understand that a real person, with a real organization located in a real place of business, stands behind your message.

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