Direct Marketing Lists

Junk mail arrives as a result of direct marketing lists that seemingly permeate both snail mail and Web mail. How do companies get personal names and addresses with so much ease? People don't even look at most correspondence coming from an entity that doesn't know names but can spell "Do Not Return to Sender." And if an email has a sender name not recognized? Hit the delete button and move on! Yet millions of dollars are spent on advertising addressed to that famous citizen named "Current Resident."

There is a varied array of advertising methods available for business today. Straightforward marketing rosters and email list building are both important tools for many businesses to reach out and attempt to affect the buying habits of American consumers. The first tool has been around for decades while the latter tool is still being refined as an integrated part of ecommerce. Direct marketing lists are designed to touch a certain demographic segment by the traditional mail process. Receiving bulk discounts for mailings over a specified number of postal pieces makes this type of advertising attractive to marketers looking for a personal touch to would be consumers. There is some comfort for merchants that a postal delivery will at least be seen by one pair of eyes in a family household, unlike television commercials or email campaigns. These addresses with names and addresses lists can be bought from data companies that can provide any demographic desired, from age to location to income level.

Oddly enough, the convenience a computer brings to the job site is not always so convenient. Email list building can be a lot trickier because they are usually borne from good old fashioned leg work and networking. Many websites touting help build an email list begin with words such as, "Now that you have come back from that networking opportunity and have a pocket full of business cards, what's you next step?" There's a message in those words, and that is that email addresses come from getting out on the street and meeting people and exchanging information. A very thorny issues after you get an email address is getting the owner's permission to put the address on the roster being compiled. An unwanted email is almost like a pimple on prom night. Real resentment can come from some people who feel like a personal space has been violated. In fact, it can be illegal.

There are real incentives to using the old fashioned method of advertising. Direct marketing lists are extremely important to many businesses because the tool measures a straightforward response to a mailing. If a small business owner sends out 5000 pieces of advertising to households with an income of over $75,000 a year and gets only 11 responses which is only.0022%, the merchant might have to wonder if the goods or services offered are of little value to that income level. The next mail campaign might go to an age demographic or a lower income stratum. But the strategy does offer some valuable feedback. And of course, it should also be mentioned that telemarketing campaigns are a result of a company's compiled roster of names. "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort." (II Corinthians 1:3)

There are great ideas to use the web mail more effectively. For instance email list building can be enhanced in several ways. The first method is to offer a newsletter with current information that makes the creator sound like an expert in one's chosen field of commerce. A realdrawback to email list building is that recipients can opt out of the name roster with one click. And with more and more people protecting identities, lost names cannot be taken lightly. This reality should inform the newsletter creator that much time and thought should be placed in every communication that goes out, particularly a monthly newsletter. It must be worth the reader's time!

There are other options for building web mail lists, such as asking for email addresses on websites. In fact, capturing an email address on a home page should be priority number one for anyone wishing to do business through a website! A website, from many professionals' point of view is that it produces no long term business opportunity unless data is received from the visitor. In addition, list building can further be enhanced by placing email address list requests at the bottom of every email one sends. It is important to remember that when one is able to attend a networking event, time cannot be wasted in getting back to those contacts that were made as soon as possible. Letting more than a week at most go by without making contact will erase the memory of the meeting from a prospects mind.

There are many downsides to straightforward advertising. One may pick up a lot of hate mail from environmentalists who were on direct marketing lists. Why? Too cavalier a use of paper in catalogues or mailers. Telemarketing has gained an incredibly negative reputation. Yet non-profit fundraising uses that medium because it appears to be very effective for its purpose. In the same genre, political parties have used direct marketing lists for automatically dialing thousands of supporters with urgent or special messages. But even that has its downside. One company hired by a western politician to use an advertising list for automatic dialing purposes accidentally set the machine for 1 in the morning instead of 10 in the morning. Apparently that politician spent weeks making personal phone calls apologizing for the gaff.

Direct Email Marketing

Companies are most productive when they include direct email marketing and opt in list building in their advertising program to promote their product or service. Direct email marketing is the process by which ads are sent to a targeted demographic of potential customers. This action differs from spam emails in several ways. First, the advertising is of high quality. The best ads include the latest in online video marketing techniques and allow for interaction with the customer and an immediate link with a website to gain more information and make a purchase.

Secondly, the advertising email is sent using personalization techniques which attempt to address the customer as an individual. Some use information fields to customize materials. However, at times errors in fields can generate results which range from mildly amusing to irritating -- and few sales will result if the company is seen as incompetent or careless. (Besides, did anyone really fall for that old 'I called you by name, so we are now buddies, please buy something' technique, anyway?) Avoid, too, that false flattery which some mailings include, like Because of the excellent way you have handled financial matters in the past, our company is presenting the opportunity to purchase.... Instead, a more general letter appealing to the interests of the type of person which a business is seeking to target is going to be much more effective.

To further distinguish direct email marketing from its annoying (and occasionally, illegal) cousin, spam, customers should be given the option to indicate whether they would like to receive further emails or choose to have their names removed from the email list. Such opt in list building distinguishes the advertising from spam emails because it give the customer a sense of control over the materials he or she receives and increases the likelihood that it will be read. In addition, many advertisements these days include a way for the customer to immediately refer a friend to the product or service. Since a person is often surrounded by somewhat like-minded individuals, this may be one of the best ways to build a business' email list. Since people enjoy being entertained as well as informed, the use of humor in direct email marketing can also affect whether the advertising is sent ahead for other friends to see.

Text is as important as high quality graphics in crafting an effective advertisement. Marketing which is full of errors in spelling and grammar is a sure way to discredit a business. Everyone makes these errors occasionally, but potential customers may legitimately wonder, If they can't even proofread their advertisement, can I trust them to do quality work as they remodel my kitchen? Likewise, check the advertisement to be sure that there are no ambiguous or confusing statements. Arousing curiosity about the business is one thing; confusing customers is just annoying and will cause them to reject the message. As the apostle Paul warned, ...For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. (I Corinthians 14:8-9). Of course, Paul was speaking about the proper use of spiritual gifts and this article is about direct email, but the principle remains: if an individual wants to get a message across, he or she needs to speak clearly and distinctly. Proofread several times. Allow a friend to check for spelling, grammar and clarity. Spell-check functions do not always catch certain types of errors, which may turn into a problem if one's final copy proclaims that one is seeking to sell 'bat' rather than 'cat' food. Check the ad again, later, so perceptions are fresh. If difficulty remains, consider professional help -- with the advertising, that is. The added expense of a good copywriter is better than customers being lost due to carelessness.

In contrast with spam's blanket-bombing approach, direct email marketing messages are sent to a smaller, yet target-rich base of customers. Since they are carefully selected, based on demographics, attitudes, interests or other criteria, a greater percentage should respond. Most clients of email marketing firms are given some means of gathering data about the effectiveness of the advertising campaign. Usually this is done by some form of metrics: noting the number of customer responses, the number of responses which result in a purchase, or even the number of messages opened. Some companies provide analysis of why messages bounced -- due to filtering programs, errors, or even a full mailbox. The purpose of gathering this information is so that companies can determine which parts of the marketing worked, and which need further adjusting to be effective. For example, perhaps the way that the advertisement is constructed causes it to be rejected by antivirus or antispam programs on customers' computers.

Another contrast with spam emails is that often the prospects for direct email are gathered by opt in list building. Most people are familiar with opt out lists, where customers demand that their names be removed from a certain mailing list, or forbid information to be released to advertisers. This opt in list building occurs when a person instead gives permission for just the opposite. In this scenario, customers actually choose to allow their information to be given to specific types of businesses because they want to receive mailings about this subject matter. It may take time to build up a company's email list, because it takes time to fashion a base of satisfied, repeat customers. Take advantage of conferences or other times when opportunities to engage in opt in list building can occur. Some businesses offer some type of incentive for signing up for future mailings, such as a newsletter or a percentage off of future purchases. Many companies regard this list of email contacts to be one of the most important aspects of their business. This is because such a list represents the factor which no company can do without -- the satisfied, repeat customer.

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