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E-mail remains a cheap tool for marketing

Looking at today’s promotional landscape — magazine ads, billboards, newspapers and so on — e-mail continues to stand out as a cost-effective way for dealers to reach customers and prospects. But it must be used correctly.

The emergence of anti-spam laws, coupled with increased action by Internet service providers deciding which e-mails get through and which get flagged as spam, make it more important than ever for dealers using e-mail to do it right.

For openers, the rates of returns on e-mails correspond directly to the quality of the e-mail recipient, according to Right Now Technologies, which specializes in customer relationship management software. If, for example, you’re thinking about buying a big e-mail list and sending out promotions in large numbers, don’t waste your money. We’re now in the age of “permission-based” marketing, and it’s imperative that your recipients have opted-in to get your e-mails. Here are five guidelines Right Now says will help you make sure you’re correctly acquiring email addresses:

1. Send e-mails only to those who have opted-in. People will likely read e-mails they’ve asked for.
2. Obtain opt-in permission by either single opt-in (recipient gives you an e-mail address and indicates they want your communications) or double opt-in (where a recipient responds positively to your e-mail confirming that they did, indeed, sign up).
3. Don’t buy or rent e-mail lists. Spam traps, or “triggers,” are found in most lists that cause the ISPs to label the e-mail spam. The quality of such lists is unverifiable, even from suppliers who claim they’ve gotten people to opt-in.
4. Avoid spam trigger words and phrases in your e-mail subject line — for example, 50% Off, 100% Free, Act Now, All New, Buy Direct, Cash Bonus, Call Now, Contains $$$, Discount, Easy Terms, No Cost, Now Only, Order Now, Opportunity, Please Read, Special Promotion, Save Up To, You’ve Been Selected, Why Pay More.
5. Be up front. Clearly explain what the recipient is opting for. Your credibility and the quality of their experience hinges on you giving them what they thought they were getting.

Now, with your good e-mail list, content becomes king. Right Now offers some useful tips:

• Remind the recipients why they’re getting your e-mail. Always include a link to opt-out and to update their profile information.
• Ask recipients to add the “from” address to their address book. That will ensure consistent delivery.
• Use a consistent look. It provides a consistent customer experience. It should include spaces for add-to-address book, company Web site, contact information, privacy policy, profile update, “reply to” address, and opt-out.
• Avoid using all capital letters and special characters. These are common flags for spam.
• Balance images with text. Pleasing graphic design still applies, but you want your message easy to read, not districting.
• Include the physical postal address of your dealership. It’s required in all e-mails governed by the CAN-SPAM Act, the U.S. law governing commercial e-mail communication regulated by the Federal Trade Commission.

E-mail represents a truly inexpensive avenue to maintain customer contact, communicate promotions and special events, offer sales incentives, make new product or service announcements, and search for prospects. It’s worth doing and doing right.

Comments

6 comments on “E-mail remains a cheap tool for marketing

  1. Steve Goione

    Excellent article. Although I am not a boat dealer, as a Marine Wildlife Artist e-mailng “latest releases” from my studio, appearance schedules and other topics about my illustrations is fantastic. I e-mail once every 10 days to my client and potential client list and ALWAYS get feedback. I keep it simple, easy to read and hopefully enjoying to the eye!

  2. dave

    now if you can just get dealers and businesses to respond to email….just two weeks ago I sent 6 emails to 6 different insulation installers. One response, even after calling the other 5 – I have yet to hear from them.

    This August I sent 12 email inquiries to 3 inflatable manufacturers, one whose name was on the boat, along with followup phone calls to those same manufacturers. In late September, got the manufacturer with his name on the boat, via cell phone and he said “ship it back and we will get to it this winter, I really don’t have time to deal with this right now.” Yeah right, ship a 12′ inflatable back to the factory with no RMA, no documentation and no ETA for repair, on my dime and expect to get it back.

    Manufacturers and dealers have to respond in a timely fashion and ready to answer a customer’s question…not months later with a non answer….BTW, the other inflatables, I am still waiting to hear from…

  3. D. SMITH

    GOOD ARTICAL………BUT LETS TALK ABOUT WHATS KILLING THE MFG’S AND DEALERS. IT’S CREDIT.
    MOST DEALERS AND MFG’S. HAVE SEEN THE COST OF CREDIT DOUBLE SINCE LAST SPRING. SO THE DEALERS HOLD BACK ON ORDERS, THE MFG’S. CAN’T AFFORD THE HIGHER INTREST RATES AND THE EFFECTS OF THIS FALLS DOWN THE CHAIN TO THE SUPPLIERS AND SERVICE PEOPLE. ONE FINANCE ARM IS NOT ENOUGH, THEY ARE MAKING THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE MANAGED TO SURVIVE PAY A PENALTY FOR NOT DUMPING THE PRODUCT ON THE MARKET AT THE CURRENT REPO PRICES. COME ON NORM, NMNA, BANKERS, & POLITICIANS GET SOMETHING FIXED BEFORE THERE IS NOTHING LEFT OF OUR INDUSTRY.
    LETS GET SOME FEEDBACK TO MAKE THING MOVE FORWARD.

  4. Komrade Carl

    dave you are experiencing the reality going forward. It is not that they are ignoring you as much is it they may not be there. Most manufactures that have not burped are closed. Oh yea a guy may answer the phone but he’s just running the pumps to keep the water at bay to give the illusion they are open. Unfortunitely he’s suppose to fix the source of the in coming water (the hole in his sinking boat) not run a pump.
    What he told you was “he’ll get to yours after & if he can right his own ship”. The other guys well they must be gone.
    D.Smith you are correct there is no credit unless you want to pay Tony Saprano rates & isn’t that part of what got us here. Paying 8-10 % when your gross is under 25% & you have low volumn? Impossible to continue. To back up your point I offered to purchase a vacation home in the mountians last week with 20% down… They laughed & said try 50% without even running credit.
    The best thing a dealer can do if he has no or low traffic is take the inventory to the prospects. Go fish for them. Advertising still works but you must have a goal….

  5. John Trkla

    I could not agree more.

    Targeted email communication based on the customers needs and wants not only has the highest effectiveness, it also makes the best impression. We have been focused on the best practices of email communication for a decade and time and time again it comes back to respect and care. Spam, irrelevant content, buy only emails actually hurt your brand more than if you sent nothing at all. Relevance with action and real time response are the foundation of all successful electronic communication programs. There are many factors contributing to the sluggish economy that are out of our control – utilizing the most efficient and effective means of marketing correctly is the one element within our control.

  6. Dan Hamilton

    I couldn’t have said it better! Targeted e-mail marketing campaigns built around time, action or an event will deliver results that convert prospects into customers. Today’s consumers are utilizing the internet first to research products when they are planning a major purchase. And when they request more information or opt for contact, e-mail is an excepted vehicle to contact them. Now that you have garnered their trust through opt in, treat their e-mail information as the valuable asset that it is. When you build your e-mail campaign make sure it is targeted and meanigful to their interests. At ThreeClix we call this Nurture Marketing.

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