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Protecting your email marketing program

Biggest threat to email marketing is coming from blogs

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According to many experts, email as an effective marketing tool is either dead or on its way to quick death. Some experts are even claiming that both regular websites and email marketing may become totally ineffective in a world that may be dominated by blogs (other terms used are RSS or XML based content delivery systems). All of these statements and forecasts are pretty bold and only time will tell what happens but any business that uses email marketing today needs to be aware of the changes in technology and consumer behavior so that it is prepared when the time comes.  In an age when almost everyone is trying to fight a battle with SPAM, it is not easy for firms to use email marketing without headaches.  (Related article:  Mergers and acquisitions in blogosphere)

In the meantime, email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to communicate with everyone who is voluntarily interested in receiving information from you. What you need to do is to tailor your email messages so that the recipient feels that s/he has total control, and secondly, you need to provide alternatives (e.g. subscription to blogs through RSS or XML feeds) so that you can gradually migrate your subscriber base to new technologies.



How to continue to use email marketing effectively?

  • Give simple subscribe and unsubscribe choices. All email messages should have a link where a subscriber needs to type the email address once to be subscribed immediately.
  • Give several choices on frequency of communication. For example, a subscriber may be interested in your products but not like the idea of receiving an email every other day. Maybe only once a week, or once a month, or only when there is a major sale, or when a new product is introduced. Invest some time in thinking strategically about your email marketing program and then offer several choices so that no one is motivated to either unsubscribe or hit that dreaded "This is Spam" button.
  • You might already be personalizing your emails but what is really needed is customization. Or in other words, do not send email related to children's toys for people who do not have children. If in doubt or don't have the data, hold off on that email.  It is better to wait to develop that mailing list.

How to protect your email marketing from disruptive technologies?

While many people like to receive communications from a company, what they don't like is the lack of control once their email address has been added to a database. Marketers, rather than consumers, are to be blamed for the current backlash against email marketing. Many marketers have misused databases by renting lists and assuming that if a consumer likes to read about toys, she or he also likes to shop for them. That is why blog-based marketing is rapidly growing. It gives complete control to the reader.  Of course, if your content is compelling enough, readers will add your feed to their reader.  Right now it is limited to more savvy web users and only a few companies are providing this option, but once it becomes mainstream and an average consumer becomes comfortable using it, the effect will be similar to Tivo. Here are a few suggestions to protect yourself against these disruptive technologies:

  • Embrace them rather than ignore or fight them.
  • Provide an easily accessible option to switch for existing subscribers
  • Listen to your customers. Ask them what they want. May be they would want both options depending on the type of message

Recommended links:  Guide to blogging for businesses      Podcasting to get a boost from lower iPod prices   TV advertising declines

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