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Speak, Don't Spam
Send out mass e-mail annoucements that are
courteous, effective and — above all — welcome
By Russell Shaw for
When it comes to marketing your business,
there's a fine line between being enthusiastically persistent and
being a pain in the neck. If not lower.
This is especially
true with e-mail. E-mail can be a effective direct marketing tool,
but too much, too often can make it a nuisance to the people you're
trying to win over. When that nuisance goes over the line, it's
You already know the telltale symptoms of spam —
exaggerated claims, repeated come-ons, teaser e-mail subject
headings, ALL-CAPS and lots of exclamation points. Perhaps you've
received such e-mail yourself, and you don't like it one bit. Yet
your company makes the best drill bits, employs the most well-versed
CPAs or does the best-quality furniture restoration in the whole
You may be proud of your business. And
there's a way to use e-mail to tell the world that. There's also a
way not to.
Rather than simply recite a list of spammer sins,
we've put together a more enlightened path for each misguided
action. A "do" for each "don't."
Don't: Send e-mail
out to all your customers, whether they ask for it or
Do: Afford them the opportunity to join your
mailing list, whether it's over the phone, via your Web site or in
person. That's called "opt-in."
Don't: Invite them to
subscribe without telling them what they will
Do: Be clear about what information your
e-mail alerts will contain. Giving prospective subscribers this
indication before they sign up will encourage more of them to do so.
Don't: Send them e-mail every day.
Consider a monthly timetable. An e-mail once a month is much less
invasive and immensely more helpful. Plan ahead to include all the
information you want, lest you forget a key fact and be forced to
hit the send button again.
Don't: Send lengthy
attachments. These take time to read, especially by customers with
slower Internet connections.
Do: Post the file on your
site, rather than include it as an attachment. Within the e-mail
message, list the URL where it can be found. Don't: Make your
e-mail message too fancy. Not everybody's e-mail program can read
Java-coded documents, for example.
Do: Keep the
hopping animations for your Web site, not for the body of your
message. At best, they are silly; at worst, they can crash e-mail
readers. That's a sure way to tick off your recipient. Plus, some
e-mail programs can only read plain text, so be sure to offer that
as an option.
Don't: Make it difficult to unsubscribe.
It may be a blow to your ego, but there's never been a mailing list
without at least some turnover.
Do: Send all new
subscribers a confirmation e-mail when they sign up, and include
how-to-unsubscribe instructions within the e-mail. It's also wise to
post unsubscribe information on your site.Don't: Respond with
follow-up e-mail too soon after the original. For example, avoid
sending a "last chance for our special offer" two days after you
e-mailed the original message.