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SUCCEEDING WITHOUT SPAM
As FCC regulations and laws continue to progress and consumers become more outraged about spam, the way companies communicate with customers via e-mail is under new scrutiny. Marketing executives are left exhausting their creativity while contemplating the newest way to "beat the system." This is becoming a more daunting task, and more importantly, the effort takes away energy that should be used towards developing successful marketing campaigns.

The good news is that if it's done right, e-mail marketing can be extremely effective, crushing the ROI figures of direct mail and telemarketing. That being said, it's not enough to merely distribute a regular newsletter or promotion anymore. In order to be effective using e-mail, follow the tips below so you can ensure that your e-mail communications will be received well and will stand out from the competition:

BUILD PERMISSION-BASED LISTS

It's been said before, and it will be said again: spam is bad. Use loyalty programs, such as sign-ups at retail stores, Web site registrations or print advertising to capture e-mail addresses for marketing use.

IDENTIFY YOURSELF

Your company is not the only one sending e-mails to your customer's inbox. As e-mail continues to become a mainstay for personal and professional communications, it has also become a playground for companies to compete for customer attention. To stand out, get your company noticed with recognizable e-mail addresses and concise subject lines that convey a relationship instead of a gimmick.

TRIGGER IT

Consider setting up a trigger-based messaging system that delivers customized messages based on "triggers" such as recipient feedback, external events or specified time intervals. This makes your communication even more personalized to the user and strengthens your customer relationships.

TAKE A POLL

When was your last purchase at our store? How many times a week do you drink coffee? Ask a question in each message, which can be tracked by your company. These questions, which may seem irrelevant to your recipients, can help you expand the demographic data you own about your customers. Results can be added to a database that can be used for current projects or down the road for future promotions and giveaways. Your customers will be amazed at how well you know them.

LEARN FROM YOUR MISTAKES

Consider sending out sampling messages to a small percentage of your target lists before delivering an e-mail to your entire audience. By doing this, you can ensure your message is effective, or you can tweak your message accordingly. AM

Brad Linden is VP of marketing for Xpedite, which provides multimedia messaging services to help companies automate and manage information exchanges with their target audiences.


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