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The Business Odyssey Chronicle, Issue #009 -- Practical information for small busineses.
June 23, 2003

May 15, 2003 Issue #9


IN THIS ISSUE

  • Marketing: E-mail - a 2-edged sword
  • Good links: How stuff works
  • Write to us; pass it along; article reprints

MARKETING: E-mail - a 2-edged sword

Keeping in touch with prospects and customers is the cornerstone of effective marketing. To make an initial sale, the prospect needs to hear about your product or service at least 6 or 7 times. Following up after the sale to see that the customer is satisfied, to offer additional services and to provide useful information cements the relationship and creates repeat sales.

The fastest, easiest, and cheapest (the 3 magic words) way to do this is via e-mail. With e-mail, you can communicate with large numbers of clients and prospects instantaneously with personalized and customized messages. You can provide important information and news while it is still fresh. The preparation and lead times for producing e-mail marketing communications are minimal and the price is very low compared to other forms of communication.

Unfortunately, e-mail is not without its problems. There are still an amazing number of businesses and individuals who resist adopting this useful tool. Even with B2B operations, a successful effort to convert your mailing list to e-mail will yield only 20% to 50% accepting the change. You will still have to communicate with the others via US mail.

Abusive e-mailers have stuffed all of our e-mail boxes full of garbage. Being mixed in with these unsolicited, unwanted and often offensive messages can dilute legitimate messages that the recipient may want or need to get. The filters that are being used to limit these abusive mailings also block other bulk messages that your customers do want to be getting - including your messages.

So, what can you do to maintain your credibility and cut through all of this clutter? There are actually a number of steps you can take that will help your e-mails get through to your customers and prospects and ensure that they are well-received.

PROTECT YOUR LIST. Utilize the "blind carbon copy" feature of your e-mail form to keep from revealing the e-mail addresses on your mailing list. This will prevent the "harvesting" software of unscrupulous bulk e-mailers from capturing the addresses. Use the Bcc feature even when e-mailing to lists of friends. It is the considerate thing to do.

BE CONSIDERATE. Do provide useful, timely information. Don't bombard your customers with many e-mails.

BUILD AN OPT-IN LIST. Ask people if they want to receive e-mail from you. Send them an e-mail to confirm this. In every bulk e-mail that you send, give them a clear option for being removed from the list.

GET WHITE LISTED. Ask your list members to put you on a list of approved mailers. Many e-mail systems have this feature. It will allow your e-mail to get through the filters.

PUBLISH A PRIVACY POLICY. Promise your list members that you will not sell or share their mailing information without their permission. Repeat that promise in every bulk e-mail that you send.

To have your e-mail reviewed for elements that might be likely to get caught by filters, e-mail a copy of it specifying TEST in the subject line to spamcheck-odyssey1@sitesell.net. You will receive a full SpamCheck Report in seconds.

The other half of the story is what is going on in your own e-mail box. If you are tired of wading through dozens of junk e-mails to get to the ones that you really want to read, there are a few things that you can do.

First of all, understand how abusive bulk e-mailers get your address. Many utilize software that gathers e-mail addresses from web sites, directories, and newsgroup postings. Putting your e-mail address in human readable as opposed to machine readable form will help stymie the robots. In other words, instead of writing your e-mail as "jdoe@domain.com" write it as "jdoe at domain dot com. Humans will know what you mean but the computers will not.

Set up a special e-mail account to use for directory listings, product registrations, etc. Most of your junk e-mail will end up in this account. Reserve another account for personal e-mail, and still another for business. This will also give you some idea about the source of your junk e-mail.

Insist that your friends and associates protect your e-mail address by using the "blind carbon copy" feature on their e-mail form when they include you in a group e-mailing.

The Center for Democracy & Technology recently published an interesting report based on a study that they did of how unsolicited e-mails find their way to an e-mail address. It offers more in-depth information and additional ways to help prevent spam overload in your own e-mail box. If you would like to read the report, it is available at http://www.cdt.org/speech/spam/. Look for the report entitled CDT Report on Origins of Spam - "Why Am I Getting All This Spam?"


GOOD LINKS: How stuff works

Have you ever wondered how your cell phone works? Or marveled at how CDs and DVDs can produce sounds and moving pictures? You can find the answers to these questions at www.howstuffworks.com.

This nifty site provides answers to questions about the inner workings of everyday items, technological wonders and events. On your first visit, a pop-up provides tips on how to get the most out of the site. Be sure to take a look. A start page listing of 9 topics, including automotive, science and travel, leads you to the answers to your question.

The How Stuff Works site also has other interesting features including surveys, articles and a guide to gadgets. Explore it to get answers to your burning questions, for inspiration for new product ideas or just for fun.


Write to us; pass it along; reprint articles

If you have questions, comments or an idea for an article you would like to see in The Chronicle, please drop us a line at

info@businessodyssey.com. Feel free to pass this newsletter along to anyone you think might find it of interest. If you do, be sure to forward it in its entirety and include the copyright notice.

To use an article in your own publication, just send me an e-mail telling me which article you want to use. I will e-mail you the complete article withan information block which MUST be included.


Copyright 2003 Kathleen Thompson ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Business Odyssey

Cleveland, Ohio

www.businessodyssey.com


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