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  #1  
Old 10-18-2010, 09:55 PM
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Default 5 Mistakes Small Businesses Make Asking For Customer Emails

I
recently spent 2 days deep-sea fishing in Aruba with my wife. We shelled out almost $1,000 to charter a boat with two enjoyable guys name Marcelino and Jimmy. Our friends also chartered Marcelino's boat twice during the same week. At the end of our time, we all walked away promising to go fishing again on our trip next year. However, chances are we'll never see them again because Marcelino neglected to do one simple thing: ask for my email address so he could keep in touch.

The sad truth is that most businesses, whether they sell high-dollar services or $40 gift-baskets, completely "miss the boat" when it comes to asking for customer emails. Though email predates the Web, the following 5 mistakes highlight just how much opportunity still remains for improvement in small business email marketing.

Mistake #1: Not Asking

How hard do you work to get people into your store or office?

How much do you pay in advertising to get people to your website?

Cultivating a list of customers and prospects you communicate with via email rates as the most cost-effective way to stay in touch. Nothing else offers the time leverage and speed of communication (no, not even Facebook or Twitter), yet the vast majority of businesses never ask for an email address. ASK! Start using the Internet's most basic communication tool to build your business.

Mistake #2: Inconsistency

Train your staff to ask for customer emails consistently and tell them exactly what to say and when. Don't leave anything to chance. You might even try incentivizing your staff to ask for customer emails. Pay them $1 for every customer email they collect (the right way) so they get into the habit of asking. By the way, $1 for a targeted email with name and contact information is pure GOLD and will definitely get your team in the habit of asking consistently!

Mistake #3: No Value Exchange

The majority of businesses that do ask for email don't operate with a standard script. The request for email comes as an afterthought or with an apologetic "My boss made me ask you" attitude from the person behind the cash register. I experienced that on a trip to Toys-R-Us some years ago when buying a new Playstaion. As the young lady behind the counter rang up the sale, she sullenly asked "Do you want to join our email list?" My knee-jerk reaction was "No! You'll spam me!"

In other words, when I didn't see value in the way she asked, I said no.

Mistake #4: Unclear Promise

When you ask someone to give you their email, they immediately fire off a set of internal questions:

* Why do you want my email?

* What's in it for me?

* Will you spam me?

No matter what size business you operate, asking for email with a simple script that offers a clear promise of value often defuses customer concerns. You can do this either with the name of the list or the offer for joining the list.

For example, you could say:

* Would you like to join our Online Newsletter & Specials Club?

* Would you like a free subscription to our Online Updates & Discount Club?

* Would you like instant access to unadvertised specials and customer-only updates?

Mistake #5: No Obvious Opt-In

When anyone visits your website, you need to let them know they CAN sign up for you list. Though it sounds obvious here, most websites don't make a big, bold, benefit-driven promise to entice people to sign up. Just as with live people coming into your store, don't hide the fact that you offer value through email on your website. Always make an obvious and compelling promise for why people should opt-in to your list.



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  #2  
Old 10-18-2010, 09:56 PM
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Default Website Promotion With Email Marketing

Email marketing is a way of directly communicating with a target audience to market your website or increase awareness about an upcoming promotion connected with your site. In general, the term "email marketing" is used to refer to any emails sent to customers or potential customers in relation to your website. Email marketing can be a very effective tool to inform customers of future events, or attract new customers by increasing awareness about what your site offers.

Success in email marketing does not come from thoughtlessly blasting out email ads without working to build your own customer base. The basis of successful email marketing is to build existing in-house customer lists, augmenting them by outreach through outside mailing lists.

Your own email list allows you to develop a long-term relationship with your online audience -- to communicate with and market to them over and over.

Generally email marketing can be implemented with these 3 objectives in mind:

(1) Sending direct promotional emails to try and acquire new customers or persuade existing customers to buy again

(2) Sending emails designed to encourage customer loyalty and enhance the customer relationship

(3) Placing your marketing messages or advertisements in emails sent by other people

Of course, it seems easy to collect hundreds of thousands of email addresses and send everybody an email about your website. Unfortunately, it isn't quite that simple. Essentially, you require the permission of the email recipient to send them info about your site otherwise it may be regarded as "spam" which is unsolicited bulk email.

In the marketing industry, spam is definitely a four letter word and something that should be avoided at all costs. If you are accused of spamming, there could be direct consequences such as damage to your reputation, your website may be shut down and your email accounts closed.

In conjunction with this, there is a strong argument from successful marketers that long-term email campaigns only work consistently when they are based on permission in the first place. There are plenty of acceptable ways to market your website by email. Don't be tempted to take shortcuts because chances are it could be your downfall.

It's important to stress that anyone considering email marketing must read up on the subject of permission and spam. If you don't understand the importance of permission and the risks of ignoring it, then you could be heading for commercial disaster.

Don't panic, though. It's actually relatively easy to ensure that the address lists you use or build yourself are permission-based.

Below are 3 possible ways to do that:

(1) New Content Notification

You've probably seen sites that offer to notify you whenever they have new information, products, or content.

To tell you the truth, this is probably the least effective kind of opt-in list, simply because most people won't sign-up. Instead, they'll bookmark your site thinking they'll just come back from time to time - but don't count it!

Of course, there are certain kinds of sites that CAN benefit from this form of opt-in list. For example, if you have a site that runs contests, you can offer to notify people whenever a new contest begins.

(2) Free Report

Another kind of opt-in list involves the offer of a free report, or series of reports. However, be careful with this!

By offering a free report, you are restricting the number of times you can mail to your list, it's not a good idea to capture the names and then bombard them with a continual stream of sales material when they were only expecting one or two reports.

This would be considered spamming! If you offer a free report, it should contain "real" information and a reason for them to visit your website again.

(3) Free eZine/Newsletter

A great way to build an opt-in list is by offering a free subscription to an electronic newsletter or ezine.

Newsletters are a really good way of regularly reminding your subscribers about your website and products. By writing a newsletter that contains copy which is both informative and compelling, you draw subscribers back to your website again and again!

Having an ezine/Newsletter is one of the best ways to build credibility and rapport with your readers and customers. If you understand the value of a "Lifetime Customer", then you know exactly how powerful an ezine or newsletter can be!

So now that you know how to get your opt-in mailing list, it's time that you learn how to run your email promotions effectively when you do it.

Below are 6 tips to consider for successful email marketing:

(1) Perhaps the most critical step in guaranteeing the success of your e-mail promotions is that you e-mail a targeted list of opt-in subscribers who have specifically requested to receive information on a particular topic from you. You'll be wasting your time and energy if you don't.

(2) Personalize each and every email. A phrase like "Dear John" will have more impact than just "Dear customer". For that person assumes you know him.

(3) Write benefit-oriented subject lines or you can ask a question or trigger curiosity. Subject lines are critical in ensuring whether your email gets opened or not.

(4) Make it easy to read. Check grammatical errors and proof read everything. Keep paragraphs short, between 4-6 lines.

(5) Give the opportunity for your readers to opt-out of your mailing list. At the end of all e-mail you send, it's extremely important that you give people the opportunity to opt-out or be removed from your e-mail database. This is really, really important.

(6) Test your email promotions. Before sending your e-mail to your entire list, take an extra 15 minutes to test how it looks in a variety of e-mail clients like hotmail, yahoo, outlook express, eudora etc...

Email marketing is an excellent way to increase the exposure of your website and advertise any special offers that are currently available through your website. Executed well, a targeted email campaign can have a dramatic influence on your traffic, acquisition of visitors and traffic behavior.




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  #3  
Old 10-18-2010, 09:57 PM
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Default Is Google Reading Your E-mail?

Is Google reading your email? I guess that depends on who you think Google is, actually. If you think of Google as some vast corporation with lots of employees, then no, they aren't reading your email. If you think of Google as a large network of Internet servers and computer hardware, then yes, they're reading your email.

Let me explain.

If you subscribe or have considered subscribing to Google's GMail ( http://www.gmail.com ), then you've no doubt heard the hype about their "privacy-invading" techniques to serve you advertising as you read email.

It's a lot of hooey.

I have a GMail account and have nothing bad to say about it. I have several websites which use Google's SiteSearch, Google's AdSense, and other Google tools to serve advertising and garner revenue. Those ads that you see on the right hand side of the page when you search for something on Google are paid advertisements (the ones labeled "Sponsored Links"). Every time someone clicks on one of those ads while on my site, I get a few cents as payment for displaying the ad.

The ads in GMail look exactly like that and are about as intrusive to your email tasks as they are on that search page…meaning they aren't.

I have, in the past, had Hotmail, Yahoo!, and other free email accounts online. Without exception, those popped up annoying ads, showed banners somewhere on the screen, or sent me in-house-created email advertisements. That's how they pay for the service. GMail is no different.

Except they're scanning your incoming emails for keywords in order to target those ads to your subjects of interest. Just like they scan my website for keywords in order to rank me on the search engine and to display ads relevant to what's on my site.

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