原文 訳文

Email Marketing: Boon or Bane?

Guest columnist, Jack Burke
Jack Burke

I recently received an e-mail from an insurance producer asking, "How is e-mail being used as a marketing tool? Is it successful?" Now there's a short question with a potentially long answer that definitely got me thinking. In fact, I initially started writing about cost and result comparisons between regular mail marketing versus e-mail.
However, the reality is that each can be successfully implemented in its own right with its own unique cost and return variables. So let's look at e-mail independent of any other type of marketing. What are some of the ways you can utilize it and what might you expect in return?
Let's start with the basics. I recently had access to a database of agencies that were members of a singular group. Approximately 20% did not have e-mail addresses listed. Due to the unique nature of this group, I don't believe the lack of addresses was a failure to collect and input the data. I believe these people did not have business e-mail addresses. So the first step is to have e-mail.
Then begin collecting e-mail addresses. If you don't have them, you can't contact them. Every contact should be an opportunity to ask for their e-mail. This is critical, because it is the only true, direct line of communication that exists. Telephones have gate keepers, as does mail call. E-mail goes direct to the source.
A factor which I find surprising relates to the number of people in business that have a company web site, yet utilize AOL and other such portals for their e-mail address.
Ideally you have a web site that is based on your name, ours is "soundmarketing.com" - the same name as the company. Why would I want to send and receive e-mail under the name of AOL or Earthlink? Why would I want to advertise them, as opposed to my own company? As subliminal as it may be, every e-mail correspondence where the mail is managed through your own web site is direct advertising for your company--and the directions to your web site. For instance, through our Sound Marketing web site I manage personal mail accounts under several different names. Each is its own advertisement, as well as a contact address.
If you travel a lot, it may pay to have a worldwide access address like AOL where you can dial into an 800#. But use it only for access. Program the mail manager to use AOL, for example, to check your regular e-mail accounts that might not have 800# access to the ISP.
Moving on, have you set up "signatures" for your e-mail? This is a perfect and automatic opportunity to mention other services and provide complete contact information. I use about half a dozen and set them up to be added to by e-mails on a random basis. Each one concentrates on a different facet of your business and serve as continual reminders to our clients and prospects about the varied services we offer. They also provide phone numbers, fax #s and snail mail addresses for contact by any means possible.
The next step, as in direct mail, is to look at your actual correspondence. Do you strictly reply to messages sent and send business-related questions? In other words, do you operate under the old Dragnet motto, "Just the facts, please."? At least once per month, I like to browse through my e-mail address book. When I see someone I haven't corresponded with in a while, I send them a cheery little note: "Hi, just wanted to let you know that I was thinking about you today. Hope all goes well with both your business and personal lives, and I thought it was time to let you know how much we appreciate your friendship and your business. If you need anything, give me a call." It's simple and thoughtful, and it's amazing how much extra business those types of notes generate. So use your e-mail to send an occasional love letter to your clients.
As we become more advanced, think in terms of regularly scheduled newsletters to your clients, friends and prospects. They can be as fancy, or as simple, as you choose. Many major entities present their newsletters in simple text. Others utilize HTML language and make them as fancy as a web site. The format is far less critical than the content. If you send one, make sure the information is valuable and appreciated.
The best example I can cite of newsletter effectiveness is ProgramBusiness.com. It has been my privilege to serve as editor of ProgramBusinessNews, which is published every 10 days. In six short months the ProgramBusiness web site is already approaching a million hits per month. The only marketing tool driving this company is the newsletter. Not a penny has been spent on advertising to this point. Newsletters work, they really do!
Proceeding from these common sense basics, it's time to talk about "broadcast" or "bulk" e-mail. Here we find a lot of mixed emotions, so let's establish some guidelines.
Make sure there is value to the recipient.
Give to get! A pure commercial is more likely to be immediately trashed than a message that first provides something of interest and value to the recipient. Some free advice on a risk management or business issue at the opening may predispose the recipient to read the entire message and possible take action.
Gain their permission in advance.
Permission marketing may be a popular buzzword, but don't sell it short. Sending to a "permission list" will garner far better results than sending to a "cold list". Granted there's some value to both, but as a salesperson you already know that you're far better off making a sales call by appointment, than by making a cold call. The same applies to e-mail marketing.
Avoid attachments.
Due to the very real virus dangers, many people are afraid of e-mail attachments and immediately trash them. Plus, many corporate e-mail management systems will not process through an e-mail with an attachment. Keep it simple with a text message.
Utilize hyperlinks.
As opposed to attachments, it is very easy to insert hyperlinks to your web site or even a particular page within your web site. Most e-mail software automatically converts such addresses to hyperlinks without any direct action on your part. Keep the text message concise, but direct them to your web site for specific actions. For instance, I recently sent a broadcast e-mail about my new book Relationship Aspect Marketing. The only action suggested in the e-mail text was to hyperlink to for more information Hyperlinks are also an excellent way to bring added value. You might include a short quotation from an informative article, then offer a hyperlink to the complete article if they'd like more detail.
Make it as personal as possible.
Remember this is an electronic letter. The more personal the writing, the greater the likelihood that people will read it. As mentioned earlier, this mail goes direct to the recipient. Secretaries and telephone receptionists are not blocking the way.
Make it look good.
E-mail software today is far more innovative than just a few years ago. Take advantage of the ability to select fonts, sizes, underlining, bolding and italicizing. This adds texture to your message and increases readability. You can even get into background and type colors, pasting pictures and animation. However don't go overboard and create such a large document that it takes a lot of time to load. Remember, a lot of your recipients are still on dial-up modems.
Set reasonable expectations.
In regular direct mail campaigns, experts suggest that you should expect a 2-3% return. Sometimes you get lucky and get more, sometimes you get less. But 2-3% has always served as a good guideline for "cold" direct marketing. Don't expect that type of return with e-mail. My experience has been that 0.03-0.05% is a fair return. Granted you may get lucky and do far better --particularly with a warm, permission-based list or with a broadcast to existing clients who already do business with you. Electronic mail does not have the same intrinsic values associated with real paper. It's definitely less expensive, but don't expect the same results as with direct mail.
As with any new technology, take some to get acquainted with the potential. Begin slowly and increase your activity as you gain experience and knowledge. "Dot-coms" may be experiencing difficulties today, but the Internet is here to stay. Make it your friend. 
Jack Burke is the president of Sound Marketing, Inc., host/producer of Audio Insurance Outlook, editor of ProgramBusiness.com newsletter, and author of both Relationship Aspect Marketing and Creating Customer Connections. For more information, please visit http://www.soundmarketing.com/, call 1-800-451-8273, or e-mail jack@soundmarketing.com.





















ジャック・バークはサウンドマーケティング社の社長で、オーディオ・インシュランス・アウトルックの支配人兼制作者、ProgramBusiness.comニューズレターの編集者でもある。また、リレーションシップ・アスペクト・マーケティングとクリエイティブ・カストマー・コネクションの著者である。詳細は、http://www.soundmarketing.com、または電話1-800-451-8273, もしくは Eメールjack@soundmarketing.comまで。.