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    2 Replies Latest reply on Oct 9, 2008 1:54 PM by iventures

    When E-Mail Marketing Works And When It Doesn't

    iventures Adventurer
      The cost of stamps keeps going up, but small and midsize businesses still need to mail catalogs, sale promotions, and reminders to clients and customers. Or do they?

      Online advertising expert Thomas Harpointner, chief executive of e-business marketing firm AIS Media, has some wise words about snail mail vs. e-mail. He addresses customers' online security concerns, the (unavoidable) pitfalls of spam, and the future of online marketing (hint: smartphones).

      bMighty: How will the rising postal rates affect smaller business' use of the post office?

      Thomas Harpointner: Businesses already have cut back on postal use. The rate hike is making the press, but now they will be raising the rates every year. Next May 1, it will be one more penny, at least. It could be much higher. With the rising cost of gasoline, any business that requires transporting goods will be affected. And we've already seen a 25% reduction in postal use by business.

      E-mail is being used by virtually every type of business. There are some things that can't be sent by e-mail--medical reports, credit reports, law firms' documents and anything that needs to go through the post office; in some cases, the stamp makes the document official. Any official business will continue with postal mail, such as any type of a legal document that requires an original signature or postmark, for example, if a company is being sued.

      Is there a way for those types of businesses to avoid snail mail?

      Banks have found a way to circumvent the post office with direct deposit and paperless statements. Brokerage firms are also making statements available online. They don't mail statements and they avoid cost of paper and ink. It's also more environmentally friendly. And with the rise of fuel costs and postal costs, it's cheaper.

      What about customers who worry about security with e-mail?

      Many customers prefer paperless statements. It's voluntary, easily accessible, and they don't have to worry about identity theft. The No. 1 complaint to the FTC Federal Trade Commission is identity theft. Until every mailbox has a padlock, anyone can get in. Banks are all guilty of this. Banks send these blank checks to customers in the mail. If somebody intercepts it and writes on the check, money comes right off the account. The postal service is still scarier than e-mail vis-à-vis identity theft.

      If someone can open an envelope, they can have access to lots of financial records. A mailbox has no real security. It's wide open to the world. Computers don't steal, people steal.

      People are afraid of using credit cards online, but they don't have a problem handing it over to a waiter who disappears with it for 15 minutes. As long as confidential information isn't sent in an e-mail but informing the user it's available with login and password, it's safer for their customers and cheaper for the business and more convenient for both.

      What about the people who like having a hard copy?

      If you get a coupon in the mail, how often do you have it on you in the store? But if it was sent via e-mail and you can pull it up in your BlackBerry and show the cashier? The big stores are starting to do that. Organizing your e-mail is easier than organizing your mail at home. Postal mail, people open over the trash can. Skeptics say much of e-mail goes to spam and junk, but I would argue that people open their postal mail business and residential mail over the trash! In one study, the average response from an e-mail marketing campaign is 4.5% versus 2% to 2.5% for a postal mail campaign.

      So are we seeing the beginning of the end for postal mail?

      I see no end to postal mail. But the type of postal mail we receive will be more targeted, more relevant. So small and midsize businesses should rate their communications of everything that gets e-mailed and mailed, and on a scale of one to 10, rate how important these pieces are. The very important pieces that have to be in paper--a document that requires a signature with blue ink, like a lease--needs to be in postal mail. But what about that reminder for a tooth cleaning? Does it need to be in the postal mail? Or the sales event at a local store? For small and midsize businesses that have been thinking about moving more stuff online, this is a push.

      A lot of brochures are expensive to print and costly to send. Companies in all industries large and small have begun to digitize those documents, like brochures, case studies, and white papers. There is much less information being printed than there was. Salespeople can refer customers to a link where there's a PDF, rather than mailing something.

      What about the concern that a business' e-mail will end up as spam?

      You can't avoid it. Business to consumer postal mail is easier to get through, but business-to-business e-mails have a much better chance of getting read than if they go by postal mail. Every executive has their own e-mail address, and it's personal, but only one mailbox, and the administrator is the screener there. Marketing gets thrown in the trash at that decision point.

      Eve Partners, a mergers-and-acquisitions firm for the trucking industry, started to do e-mail campaigns. They were trying to reach executives at certain firms. They started an e-mail weekly newsletter, and since they started, their CEO said they can't handle the amount of inquiries they're getting. If they had to print the newsletter and mail it, it may or may not get read.

      The benefit of e-mail is there are more statistics available. With a postal campaign, if you send 1,000 pieces, you don't know how many people opened and read it. With an e-mail system--we use Excerpo Mail Ed. note: an AIS Service--you get a reporting system: How many were sent, deleted, opened and clicked on. Most of the better e-mail marketing systems have this. Postal mail can't compete on that level. The sender of the e-mail has a clue. He can see if everything is being deleted. Maybe the message is becoming irrelevant.

      Business to consumers is a little different, but more consumers have e-mail than ever before. Most consumers have their own e-mail address. Reaching consumers is effective with postal mail, but it still gets opened over the trash. E-mail is still more effective. The Direct Marketing Association reports that e-mail marketing has shown to deliver $51.45 ROI return on investment for every marketing dollar spent. Catalogs have been with us a long time, and they work well--$7.20 ROI. You can make more money with e-mail campaigns.
        • Re: When E-Mail Marketing Works And When It Doesn't
          LUCKIEST Guide
          When E-Mail Marketing Works

          Thanks for the info
            • Re: When E-Mail Marketing Works And When It Doesn't
              iventures Adventurer
              The day of the pitch has passed.

              Best practices in email marketing demand communications that go beyond advertising, respect the customer, and speak in a familiar one-on-one style. Email is "the most personal advertising medium in history," says Seth Godin, whose book Permission Marketing set the rules that transformed email marketing into what it is today. "If your email isn't personal, it's broken."


              In response to the impersonal abuses of spam, email marketing became personal by necessity following the 2003 adoption of the CAN-SPAM Act. The act essentially defined spam as marketing messages sent without permission and set penalties not only for spammers, but also for companies whose products were advertised in the spam.

              Smart marketers, recognizing that people's aversion to spam destroyed the customer loyalty they worked so hard to build, had already begun to address the problem with best practices that focused on permission. Today, what's best is often defined by the size of your company and the industry you're in. But a few core practices hold for everyone.