E-mail can be an effective way to promote your products and services if it's used correctly.
To avoid being associated with get-rich-quick schemes, porn sites and unwanted solicitations for products no one would ever use, you need to be careful on how you select your recipients.
For example, Roy Harry, president of Media II, an Eastlake-based business-to-business marketing communications firm, compiles potential customers for his clients from lists purchased from relevant magazines and organizations.
"Everyone on the lists opted-in and said they wanted to receive special offers," says Harry. "Only those that opt-in get the e-mail. That's how you avoid the spam issue."
With research, it's possible to compile a list specific to the type of product or service you are selling. The more research that's done, the more targeted your list will be, giving a greater potential for profits.
Once your list of potential targets is identified, you need to create your marketing material.
"The biggest thing you want to do is have a genuine offer," says Harry. "It might be 10 percent off their next purchase, buy-one-get-one-free offers or a special promotion on a new product. Those are all good bits that call for action. You need something that really peaks their interest. It might even be something like a contest to win a Palm Pilot."
Harry says that 15 to 50 percent of recipients will actually open the mail, and the number who choose to click the e-mail's ad link to the Web site ranges from 3 to 12 percent.
Subject lines for the e-mail should be strong and to the point, such as "Receive 50 percent off your next purchase." They shouldn't be deceptive.
"People are turned off by that," says Harry. "If you've done a good job targeting your list, you don't have to be cute."
Once the information is sent, you'll have a good idea of how successful you were almost immediately.
"You'll get the majority of responses back within four to six hours of when you first send it out," says Harry. "About 80 percent of your responses will come during that time."
Lists costs between $300 and $500 per thousand addresses, but once you use them, you can take the names that respond to your efforts and start compiling your own list of qualified candidates.
Overall, Harry says that e-mail marketing typically has a higher response rate than a direct mail piece, plus you avoid the printing and postage costs.
"The piece has to be meaningful to the person receiving it," says Harry. "It can't just be hype. It needs to be highly focused and have a real value."