I want to do some email marketing

Email, while perhaps not as difficult as finding the right mix of traditional (print/radio/tv) and online advertising, can be a wasted effort when not done correctly.

We all have email, and we all sift through it endlessly.  Microsoft called it right when they introduced CLUTTER to its Outlook application.

Some businesses readily abuse the “we will occasionally contact you with special offers and discounts” statement they make and next thing you know, you’re getting emails DAILY…

Its a quick way to anger people who are interested in your brand or product but who are not consumed by them either.  We’ve all clicked on a interesting Facebook post or an ad and signed up for free this or that, then unbeknownst to us, a barrage of emails follow.   Personally, I tag them as spam after a few days because unless you are delivering a daily newsletter, then your efforts should be “1”—one a week, one every other week, once a month, or once a quarter.

Poorly designed and sent bulk emails are easily tagged as spam by the receiving mail server and end up in a junk mail folder or worse, your email and/or domain end up on a spam blacklist.   Sending frequent emails can tag your domain on a grey list, when people start marking emails as spam, over time, the spam filters services compare marks and make updates to their grey lists and black lists.

There are key elements to the structure of an email that spam filters watch for.  The email is graded, only when it receives a passing grade, is it delivered.

There are several configurable options in spam filters.   Matching sender and reply to mail address, subject line and body content, a contact, address and phone number as well as a clear, concise method to remove themselves from future mailings, both in the email header and in the body itself. Web links in the email that are the same domain or sanctioned domain as the sender.  Emails and domains are checked again spam black, grey and white lists.

Much goes on behind the scenes that many business owners are simply not aware of.  Not unlike the war on search engine results accuracy, email filtering services have had to step up their game to protect businesses, their employees and systems from from viruses to offensive images and everything in between.

Sending BCC (blind carbon copy) emails out to 150 emails on your list isn’t a good way to send emails yourself.  Over time, emails like these are grey listed and spam filters will track them, their frequency and for some smarter filters, if they were reviewed or just trashed. Filters actively look to see if the email is to a BCC recipient, its a red flag and often, at minimum, places your email in a spam folder.

Properly configured and managed emailing lists can be a great way to communicate with a target audience of people who are genuinely interested in your products or services.

They yield higher open and conversion results.   For most businesses, emailing once a week is more than enough, I think one email every other week, twice monthly or monthly is even better if your business offering isn’t something that is forever changing.

Newsletters are the exception, as they are meant to deliver timely news as a rule.  Daily is fine if you’ve asked to receive the news daily.

There are plenty of great bulk mail services out there.  Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, Vertical Response are some quality vendors, just to name a few.  These bulk mail service mail houses send your emails for you if you have collected your email list honorably.

If you have the skills in-house, you can develop your own list management tool like, using free products like  phplist or openNewsletter.  As long as you craft your emails in a way that meets general spam filter specifications, a high open rate and conversion rate can be achieved.

There other services; email list cleaning services that you can send your existing list too, to have scrubbed, and verified accurate or not.  They can also do a one time “OPT IN mailing’ for you, asking your list officially join a well respected service provider like Mail Chimp.

Blind, unsolicited email marketing is not optimal and repeat mailings will lead to poor spam grades which drops your emails into spam folders.

For almost everyone, I recommend using a permission based OPT IN service like Mail Chimp.  It’s a great way to break through filters and into inboxes.

These are well respected OPT IN and double OPT IN services that have rigid standards for their lists.   You can’t just import a list of emails you collected from your email account and send emails to them, through these services. They expect their clients to send individual emails, promoting them to join the mailing lists by doing the “OPT IN” request process first.

In return for your diligence, these service providers guarantee you that your emails will end up in recipients the INBOX and not a spam folder.  The other benefit is that in the end, the business has collected a list of email accounts from people who have expressed a direct interest in your product or service.

You can create multiple lists for your customers to join. Maybe your customer only wants emails regarding handcrafted wax candles, and not hand-painted wine glasses.  Creating lists that closely match the ways you may categorize you products or services is good way to start off.  Also, make a list for the “Deal of the Month” or “Newly stocked Items”.

It may sound like overkill, and in some cases it may be, but if you can capture interest, and people are clicking these lists, its your own private captive, interested audience who you can do some quality, marketing too that will likely yield in some increased sales.

Happy Emailing !

What in the Online world am I doing?

These are all common requests made by business owners and managers—the devil is always in the details. For me, the most important part of offering these types of services is client education.

Unless I’m specifically told I don’t care, just do it, I prefer to educate clients along the way.  I’m happy if they want a better understanding, whether in just a general sense, or a more detailed understanding.  The conversation that follows is educational for both of us.

Few things in technology are as they were 5 yrs ago.  The online realm changes rapidly.  It’s only part of the process to develop a good marketing strategy.  When a client doesn’t understand the current technology, perceptions can turn bad.

After the service request is made, I like to start by defining what results are expected.   Its important to work backwards from the result because it ensures the proper path forward.  Its through this process we learn whether clients, have a current understanding of marketing, or develop interest and want to learn more.   In the end, a good approach is developed and solution provided.  The client and I are both pleased with the outcome.

Recently, when discussing tech needs with a client—after a few sentences, he would shut down. “Ok, overload, that’s enough, you can go, see you later.”  I’d laugh, I’m not offended.  Its a typical response, I’m verbose.  Very similar to “well, it hasn’t worked all morning, but since you’re here, it seems fine!

Sharing my knowledge and comprehension while producing results also serves to educate the clients a bit, it provides them a basic foundation of knowledge and they can do a bit more research if they like or at least have a bit of background on the technologies around the services they request.

In a few weeks, we are talking about those next steps.  For this particular client, while providing desktop and server maintenance and site updates—we’re also discussing how to verify data between the online store and their internal system.  We recently sent out their first email campaign and will be moving towards social media marketing.  We’re doing some quick holiday promotions and we’re also kicking around the best way to develop a meaningful, targeted mailing list that is a captive, interested  audience.

I’m happy to walk clients through these technologies and processes at their own pace and time.

Recently another  new client, had just previously spent some cash on a nice, new website, complete with SEO optimizations and possibly some local directory listings.   This type of site, I often refer to as online pamphlet sites.  It primarily exists to convey general details about a business;  store hours, location, phone and types of merchandise sold, and some photos of the store.  It’s not an e-commerce site.  Just a clean online presence for people on the internet who may be searching for more information about the store.

The store offers nationally available products. The merchandise is also a very common item in retail. Wal-Bob and the like, and thousands of stores online carry the same products.  So, the focus is to sell these items locally, letting people know about the brick and mortal storefront and that it’s conveniently located and offers great prices.

Post investment in the website, he hasn’t seen any increase in sales related activities.  No increase in phone calls or foot traffic at his local store. Worthless was the term used. Without knowing what services the company actually solicited, I could offer him that I felt they did provide a nice, clean website and that the business name, website and his FB business page all have a solid web presence in search result rankings.

All he knows today is that it’s holiday season and the advertising budget is gone without any increase in sales that he can attribute to the investment.

This is great example as to why some level of client education is important to me.  Perception is everything in life.   Expectation levels can be checked when there is some level of understanding of the the process or technology behind the service being provided.   The service provider missed the mark, not because they didn’t perhaps deliver what they sold my client, but rather because he’s not happy with end result.  Miscommunication likely resulted in a missed future opportunity.

My commitment to my clients is to be thoroughly detailed and verbose (some may say annoyingly so) and in return, you will have a level of understanding of the service and technology that will make you feel both comfortable and confident about proceeding in a certain direction with a reasonable expectations of the results.

I’ve written in a bit more detail—about 5 topics I touched upon above.

  1. I need a website.
  2. I want to do some online advertising.
  3. I need better search engine results.
  4. I want to do some email marketing.
  5. I want to promote my brand and sell stuff online.


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