Internet Mail Direct Marketing

The Internet offers a great way to reach customers cheaply and effectively. We are not talking about irresponsible and random spamming, but sending information out to your existing customers and/or others who have "opted-in" to your mailing list.

The goal of Internet direct mail is the same as traditional direct mail marketing - to generate leads and orders. However, on-line direct marketing requires a different approach from traditional methods.

Here are 10 tips for effective use of Internet e-mail marketing:

1. FROM and SUBJECT are very important. People are very concerned about computer viruses and are quick to delete an e-mail. The FROM line should display someone the readers will recognize and trust. For existing customers, you should use your name or your company's name. The SUBJECT line should be treated like envelope teaser copy. You have to give the prospect a good reason to open the e-mail to see what is inside.

2. Your first paragraph or two should be a summary of your whole e-mail. On-line users have little patience in general. They need to know what you want or are offering quickly. Most people will scan the first few paragraphs only, so include all your best stuff up front.

3. Avoid using hard-sell techniques in Internet direct mail. These tend to produce poor results. Readers on the Internet expect to see information. The information can be on the benefits of your product and how to order, but the tone must remain helpful.

4. Include multiple response options for your prospects, but ALWAYS remember to have a web-based response form. Many users prefer to keep the entire transaction on-line. That way the user keeps control and does not have to worry about more sales talk or being upsold when they phone in.

5. Avoid the word FREE in the subject line. FREE is too blatantly promotional a word for people to bother opening your e-mail. The other risk is that FREE is often a word that spam filters pick up, and they will delete the message before it reaches the prospect's inbox.

6. Headlines are important. Start your e-mail with a headline that will draw your reader into the package. Try and make it different from your SUBJECT line. Your best benefit up front usually does the trick.

7. Shorter is better. If some prospects require more information, provide a link to your website where they can get it.

8. Use viral marketing. Encourage your e-mail recipient to forward your offer/message to others who may be interested.

9. On-line users prefer free trials or bill-me-later offers to money-back guarantees. While online transactions are increasing every day, many people are still wary about sending their credit card information over the Internet. They would much rather just send their shipping information, try the product for a while, and then choose their payment option when the time comes.

10. ALWAYS include an opt-out statement! The only thing more powerful than good will towards your company is ill will. Don't make any customer feel like they have been spammed. Include an un-subscribe or remove statement at the end of your e-mail. Be sure to remove them from any future mailings.

The opt-out statement should read something like this: "We at XYZ Company respect your online privacy. If you received this message in error or simply do not wish to receive further e-mails from us, please reply to this e-mail with REMOVE in the subject line."

By following these suggestions, you will make Internet direct mail an important component of your marketing program.