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The Green Sheet Online Edition

June 08, 2009 • Issue 09:06:01

Elegant e-mail marketing

By Daniel Wadleigh
Marketing Consultant

Spam is so universally despised, it causes some businesses to steer clear of e-mail marketing entirely. After all, who wants to risk becoming known as an outfit that clogs the Internet with garbage nobody wants to read. But when done well, e-mail marketing can help keep you in the minds of your customers and prospects - in a good way.

Positive, not pushy

Effective e-mail messages must:

  • Contain valid information that is of use to your target audience
  • Be well-written
  • Be cordial and noninvasive
  • Spur readers to take positive action

Devising a useful e-mail marketing strategy is challenging; some folks even say it's dicey: If you send e-mails too often or seem too demanding, your recipients will soon be hitting the delete button without bothering to open your messages.

This is true even if you're delivering truthful, useful information you are certain would be of benefit to your audience. If you overdo it, the people you want to reach will resist you - mightily.

Monthly, not weekly

I've run across statistics that say if you send an e-mail once a week for four weeks, you will go over the line. You will max-out any good will you may have had - even if you are giving away gold (slight exaggeration to make the point). Any useful advice you offer will be ignored, and if you ask your recipients to spend money in this context, you might even elicit an expletive or two.

However, take heart. Almost everybody understands that people who provide useful information, products and services are in business and need to make a living. Most people are doing some form of marketing themselves, after all. So, how often can you get away with sending e-mails that subtly or not so subtly promote your business? I'd say about once a month.

Short, not labored

Make sure your e-mail messages are informative, and avoid being long-winded. Stick to a few succinct paragraphs, and refer readers to your Web site for more information about the irresistible benefits and affordability of your new widget or service. Let them know this will save them time, grief or money - whatever the case may be for the product or service you're promoting.

Driving prospects to your well-designed Web site is an excellent choice for several reasons:

  • People who click the link you provide in your e-mails are demonstrating curiosity about what you have to offer; you are not forcing anything on them.

  • Once prospects reach your site, they have the opportunity to see details about what you presented in your e-mail, as well as view information about the other beneficial products and services you offer.

  • You have ample space on your site to present your offerings in the best light.

  • Readers can drill down to the level of detail they desire.

  • You can provide testimonials from satisfied customers, which add to your credibility.

Friendly, not formal

Use friendly language; choose informality over formality. Ask yourself what you would like to hear if you were in your target customers' shoes. Offer promotions and sales if you're in a position to do so, but do it in a positive, tasteful way that will spur your readers to take the actions you want them to take.

E-mail marketing can help foster loyal customers who frequently refer others to you. The main thing is to not resort to desperate measures. Use common sense, and you should be fine. end of article

Daniel Wadleigh is a veteran marketing consultant in the payments industry. He offers an educational program that is available on a PowerPoint presentation and designed to help ISOs elevate themselves above the competition. For more information, please call him at 512-803-0956.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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