Article: Katie Darden


The Small Business Library

January 5, 2000

The Top 10 Tips for Using E-Mail to Improve Your Marketing Effectiveness

Email is used extensively throughout the world for both business and personal use. For a small business person, it can be a very valuable ally in your marketing effort.

Here are some tips that will assist you to use e-mail effectively.

  1. Let your signature tell a story.
          Make sure you enable the "signature" feature in your e-mail program. This feature allows you to create a short message that goes out at the bottom of every e-mail you create or reply to.
    Some keys to an effective signature:
    • The message should be short - no more than 3-7 lines.
    • It should contain your name and the name of your company.
    • It can contain your tag-line, Unique Selling Proposition or Competitive Advantage.
    • It should contain your website address (if you have one). It does not have to contain your e-mail address since that will be in the header of your e-mail anyway.

    An example of an effective e-mail signature:

      Alice Friendly
      Friendly Services
      123-456-7890
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      We make it easy for you to make friends!!
      www.friendly.net

    (AOL doesn't currently allow you to do this "automatically," so if you have AOL you'll need to cut and paste or type it every time.)

  2. Have an integrated approach.
          If you have your own virtual domain, make sure your email address reflects it. Using our example above, which makes more marketing sense:  johnt@freemailservice.com  or  john@friendly.net? It's easy to have the "friendly.net" mail forwarded to the freemailservice.com address (ask your webmaster to do this), and, unless you use AOL, it's easy to change your e-mail program to send the "friendly.net" address on your outgoing mail (check your Help files).

  3. Entice your audience in a subtle way.
          Whenever possible, create a "signature" that's included in your Bulletin Board or Discussion Forum posts. This gives people who are interested in whatever you've had to say an opportunity to not only e-mail you, but can also provide the address so they can look up your website.

  4. Provide added value.
          When responding to someone's question or comment on a newsgroup, e-mail list or discussion group, it's okay to discuss your expertise or offer something from your website that solves their problem, but beware of blatant advertising or promotion. For instance, if someone is asking about using the Internet for job searches, it's okay to let the person know about a page on your site that provides links to several resume posting services. On the other hand, it's tacky to say, "That's my business and I can help you for a fee." Provide something of value on your site, and they'll come back.

  5. Remember the rules of good customer service.
          Respond to your e-mails in a timely manner. And let people know what to expect in terms of your standard response time. Be sure to answer complaints immediately. Use good customer service techniques and follow through until the issue is resolved. Make your answers short and positive, but avoid being abrupt.

    When you are replying to a message, only include the relevant parts that you are responding to. It's sometimes tedious (and difficult) to wade through several paragraphs trying to find the newly added comments. And, when a discussion has gone back and forth several times, the e-mail file can become overly long.

    Remember, some rare issues are better handled by phone, regular mail, or in person. Use e-mail to set up appointments or to share information. Even using the smiley icons can't really express irony, humor or wit very well. NEVER USE ALL CAPITALS - it's like SHOUTING!

  6. Build your network database.
          Begin today to collect the e-mail addresses of all your prospects, customers and clients. Let people know you will protect their address and keep it confidential.

    When you return from a business trip or conference, send a short e-mail message to the folks whose cards you've collected. Make it personable and friendly, and if possible, add some value by including information you think they will find interest

  7. Broadcast your message.
          If you have an e-mail account, you can send out broadcast e-mails, even without a website. For instance, you can effectively use e-mail to announce sales, send newsletters, surveys, schedule group meetings, etc.

    Many traditional media are beginning to accept e-releases. When you send your press releases through e-mail, make sure they are very clear (who, what, where, etc.) and get to the point even more quickly than you would with a mailed or faxed release.
    Note: pay attention on NOT to make the five common mistakes

    If you send out e-letters, be sure to include information about how an individual can unsubscribe or remove themselves from your list. You might even want to follow up with people to find out why they unsubscribed. You could learn a valuable customer servic

  8. "Group" your e-mail.
          If you are not yet using a specialized mailing list manager, learn how to set up "groups" to make your process easier. Using groups streamlines the process and lets you add and delete people from a specific "group" list rather than having to individually add everyone to every mailing you send.

    When sending out a group e-mail, only put one address in the "to:" field (use your own if your e-mail program allows it) and put the rest in the blind carbon copy ("bcc:") field. This way you respect the privacy of your group by not passing their addresses on to everyone else. E-mail privacy is a very big issue.

  9. Use descriptive subjects.
          With all the competition for people's attention, it's even more important to make sure your "subject" field is quickly and easily understood. Many people skip over (or even delete) messages unless there's some compelling reason to open and read them. Give them a reason by having your subject tell them what's in the message. And use effective marketing techniques to focus on the benefits.

    And a suggestion from John Butel at jbutel@volante.com.au

      "For short messages use the subject line only.
       Takes your message to the top of the list when selecting emails to open."

  10. Proofread for safety.
          Assume your e-mail will be read by everyone - even though it probably won't!! Re-read it at least once before you press 'send', and for goodness sake, spell check it for errors!!

Article by Katie Darden
who can be reached at coach@careerlife.net, or visited on the web at www.careerlife.net.