The Three Elements of a Successful EmailingA solid emailing rests on three "legs": offer, list and creative. If youve been involved intraditional direct mail marketing (the postal variety), these three elements should ring a bell, asthey apply in both media.1. OfferBasically, your offer means, What are you going to give them and what are they going to giveyou?In the most basic kind of offer, you are going to give them a product and they are going to giveyou money. You can make an offer more compelling by giving the customer a better deal, "Save$43.00," for example, or "Buy one, get one free."An offer doesnt have to involve the exchange of money. You might offer a free gift in exchangefor marketing data; perhaps the user can download a free software program in exchange forproviding personal information or filling out a survey form. Or you might offer a freenewsletter. In this case, the user might not have to give anything in return; its enough for themto let you into their inbox every week or every month.The offer is critical to the success of your email effort. You need to be crystal-clear about whatyour offer is, and you need to be crystal-clear in communicating it to your recipient.2. ListYou might have a great offer, but if you send it to the wrong list it will flop. On the Internet, listbuying is trickier than in the world of direct mail, where you can examine a standard-formatrate card, look over demographic data, or get help from an experienced list broker orconsultant. The email list business has few standards, and it can be hard to be sure who you aredealing with.Stay away from the spammers -- the bulk emailers who will sell you an email list on CD-ROM oroffer to send your ad out to a half-million people for $500. Spamming will cause you nothingbut trouble.
Find a reliable opt-in email list owner or broker. Make sure youre dealing with a legitimatecompany with a good track record. Talk with them directly on the phone. Find out how each listwas compiled. Make sure recipients were added to the list only with their explicit permission.Find out all you can about the audience. Does the list owner have demographic information orsurvey data from list recipients? If youre buying advertising in an email newsletter (e-zine),what is the topic and target audience of the newsletter? Make sure that the lists recipients arethe right market for your offer.Finding email lists can be quite a challenge. One good place to start is our directory, a Webdirectory of opt-in email lists.3. CreativeIn advertising, "creative" refers to the concept, copy and design of an advertising piece. Mostemail advertising is sent out in plain text, so you cant do much with design. But good strategyand copywriting can make a big difference.Focus your copy around your offer. In email, we recommend copy thats brief, straightforwardand to-the-point. Make it interesting, compelling and personal. But no hyperbole, no hard-sell.Make the offer clear. Include a call to action -- in other words, tell them what you want them todo and ask them to do it. Make it easy for people to respond. Most email promotionalmessages will direct the user to a Web page, where they can find out more details, fill out aform or send in an order.Give special attention to your subject line. Avoid subject lines that scream out "This is an ad!"Make it something simple, unassuming and short, while implying a benefit -- maybe somethinglike, "Discount tickets?" or "New opera recording." Avoid deceptive "gotcha" subject lines thattrick the recipient into opening the email.Give careful attention to these three elements of an emailing. If your effort falls short in anyone of these three areas -- offer, list or creative -- you can expect a poor response.
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