Steps to Responsible E-Mail Marketing: Rules of Email Marketing!

Bill Cooke, one of the founders of the super- successful online exercise equipment retailer FitnessZone, found a winning strategy for sending out direct e-mail.

Bill Cooke, one of the founders of the super-successful online exercise equipment retailer FitnessZone, found a winning strategy for sending out direct e-mail.

“We never sent out offers. We never sent out sales materials. We just sent out, every week, a simple list of new articles we had posted on our site in the week before. Each e-mail was maybe five lines long. And each article title was linked back to the site. That was really the key. We had to get folks out of the e-mail environment, which is not a natural selling environment, and into the Web page environment, which is a really fine selling environment.”

Other successful site owners agree with Cooke. E-mail is seen as intrusive if it comes from a company asking for information, or for money. The kind of unsolicited e-mail that most consumers don’t object to leads with service — like a listing of new articles on a Web site, or a bit of news or other immediately-useful information.

So, three of the five golden rules of sending e-mail marketing are —

  1. Send service messages, not selling messages
  2. Use the e-mail to bring the reader over to a Web page — a more effective selling environment
  3. Short messages are far less intrusive than long ones — they’re easier to read and don’t clog a user’s desktop with long downloads

    Andy Bourland, the publisher of Web-marketing tip-sheet ClickZ, adds a vital thought about sending e-mail to your house list: Confirm that the people who signed up really want your e-mail. Signing people up to lots of e-mail lists they have never heard of is one of the oldest and more wasteful kinds of spamming — and still pretty common.

    The most careful e-mailers will send out an auto-respond message saying that a subscription has been entered, and confirmation is needed to activate the subscription. Most e-mailers will just send out a warning message that notes the new subscription, and invites a “remove” message if the subscription wasn’t really desired. In either case, clear instructions about how to be removed must be included in every message sent, even if it just lists new resources on your Web site.

    That leads to the last two rules of e-mail marketing:

  4. Require confirmation, or at least send a warning e-mail, for new subscribers to any e-mail list
  5. With every e-mail you send, make removal-from-the-list instructions clear and easy to execute.

Not quite rocket science — but these are five vital principles, and too often overlooked.

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