Electronic Commerce Guide:

Targeted E-Mail May Be Easier Than You Think!

By J. Gregory Wilson

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While bulk e-mail is dangerous to your online presence, and while targeted e-mail lists of any quality are likely to pose some danger to your ISP (as well as your wallet), there are more effective means to take control of your marketing via targeted e-mail.

No, we're not talking about buying a Postmaster Direct mailing. This is about YOU, and YOUR WEBSITE, and the target audience your website is trying to reach. What do your visitors want? What are they looking for when they hit your home page? Knowing the answers to these questions can help you build a targeted mail list, right from your website.

No matter what your website is "about", it is about marketing. If you're not marketing a product or service, you're marketing an idea. And you want others to know about it. That's marketing, my friend. And a solid internet marketing campaign usually involves collecting the e-mail addresses of your visitors, wherever possible. This allows you to contact them again in the future: when your website undergoes radical transformation, or when your unbeatable offer just got... well, more unbeatable. These, then, are your contacts and future prospects.

"How are they my future prospects?" you ask. "They didn't take advantage of our offer." Well, they may not have bought / responded / joined in the manner you expected. That doesn't automatically take them out of the pool of future prospects. Perhaps they didn't have the finances when they visited. Maybe they weren't convinced before. Maybe they were interested, but needed further "push". That's where having a solid mail list can convert more "prospects" than anything else. They've been to your website. The familiarity factor usually plays to your advantage. They've already shown an interest in what you do / sell / believe. You simply haven't made him or her an offer they can't refuse.

Good thing you're not like the majority of web marketers, who simply let countless anonymous persons wander in and out of your site, without feedback, without acknowledgement, without interpersonal contact. You know better. You've determined why the majority of folks visit your site (for the product, the amusement, or the opportunity). And you've determined a way to reward the visitor in exchange for their e-mail address and minimal contact info. And you tailor this reward to your target audience.

No, this isn't rocket science. Simple marketing principles at play here. Your visitors go to your humor site, presumably to get a chuckle out of something. Make them an offer they can't refuse. Your site's collected "100 Funniest Jokes of All Time". Or the Joke of the Week e-zine, featuring the five most outstanding submissions for the week. It's not a big deal. But it adds value to your web presence, and nets you the e-mail info you need in return.

"I don't run a humor site. I sell telecom. Phone cards. Who wants me to have their e-mail address?" Okay, you have a point. No one really wants another long distance pitch. On the other hand. . . why did these folks visit your site in the first place? Were they looking for the most outstanding value in long distance carriers? Not bloody likely. But they may have been looking for the right business opportunity. Can you write effectively about the top five internet business opportunities, and make it an autoresponder? If you can, you have now added exponentially to the value of your site.

Whether it be a free links page regarding your area of interest that collects e-mail addresses, a simple free report, or a subscription to an e-mail newsletter, you can find a way to generate interest and collect e-mail addresses at the same time, especially if you are offering information not found at your website. If you can't, you're not optimized for web marketing, and need to seek some outside support to enhance your offerings. It doesn't matter if you run a mailing list out of NotePad, or an autoresponder system, or a majordomo list-bot. The sole determinant of your success in this area is your professionalism and courtesy.

Last point is critical: Don't abuse your mail list. They've entrusted you with their e-mail address. We get innumerable subscription requests to our e-mail marketing e-zine. We get tons of "last issue" autoresponder requests. Plus, we collect the e-mails of those submitting links to our site. We don't sell them, we don't share them, and we don't e-mail them with every harebrained scheme that comes down the pike. If you have begun collecting a targeted mail list, treasure it, save it, but don't abuse it. Your maillist can only grow if you offer value, not spam.

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Last updated : Thursday, August 12, 1999