Posts filed under ‘E-mail’

Email to a Prospect List–OK or Not?

Your question : We own a list of email addresses that were legally “harvested” (using telemarketing and manually going to websites, etc. No spiders were used to electronically capture email addressess).

We are thinking of doing an email blast with this NOT opt-in list.

If we follow the CAN SPAM regulations, will we be considered SPAM (by prospective clients – possibly), but more importantly, will we be considered SPAMMERS by the FCC or are we just being smart B2B marketers?

Our communique is designed to open the lines of communications, showcase our capabilities and valuable offerings. We give a free demonstration of an e-learning product worth $35.00 as information currency (we give you something in return for registering).

In your expert opinion, are we OK to send the B2B email blast?

Our Answer:  Yes, I do believe that you are OK to send this email. As you mention, you are complying with CAN-SPAM regulations. For those who are interested in a quick review, here are the seven requirements:

The Seven Requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act

  1. There must be a clear and conspicuous remove function available to the recipient for 30 days after the email was sent. This is also known as an “Opt Out” function. You want to ensure that you’ve given your client the option of receiving or choosing not to receive emails from you.
  2. You’ll need to develop and enforce an unsubscribe or opt out process. This will have to be accomplished both technically, as well as within your e-mail marketing pieces. You’ll need to check to ensure that you are technically prepared to manage and maintain customer “opt-out” suppression lists. And you’ll need to ensure that you have the ability to communicate back to the client in the required timeframes that you’ve received their requests and will place them on your suppression list so that they no longer receive correspondence with you.
  3. You must be able to implement opt-out requests within 10 business days. Opt-outs must be communicated to all customer contact points within your company, added to your suppression lists, and communicated back to the client within this 10 business day requirement.
  4. You must be able to provide a valid physical postal address of the sender so that potential clients or prospects can mail you their request for opting out. The law requires just a postal address. However, it is important to note that the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) requires a physical address, i.e. cannot be a PO Box.
  5. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that you clearly “label” your email as an advertisement. This is not required for those who have already opted in to receive information from your company. This requirement is for those non-opted-in clients and for all prospect emailing campaigns. You can use the “reasonableness” test here . . . in other words, would the average person consider this e-mail to be an advertisement? If so, you’re probably fine. There is no hard law that you have to actually use the word “advertisement” in your subject line.
  6. You must use a valid sender or header information. We’ve all received those illegal messages from Spammers and seen the creative ways that they’ve tried to combat Spam programs by using words in the sender and subject lines that have nothing to do with the “weight loss” or “body part enhancement” message that the e-mail contains. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that both of these fields are not misleading or false in any way.
  7. You must use valid subject information. As referenced in number 6, the Subject line must reflect the intent of the e-mail message and not be misleading in any way.

So, assuming that you’ve complied with the above, I see no reason why you shouldn’t send your email.  You’ve even gone a step further and made sure that there is a valid benefit to your prospects.  That should boost response, too.

Now, there are many email marketers and consumers at-large who might disagree with me and say that unless someone has expressly given you permission to email them, that you should not put them on your list.

My opinion is that if you have targeted your market correctly, and if your offer is strong and compelling to your audience, then you should be okay.  If you are providing real value, then I would move forward with the campaign.

And, let’s face it–you’ll know soon enough (by the number of unsubscribes and the people who positively respond) if this was the right thing to do.  Please come back and let us know how the campaign went. 

Best of luck to you!

January 27, 2009 at 5:56 am 3 comments

B2B vs B2C E-mail Rules

spam.jpgQ: I hear different things. Some colleagues/vendors tell me that there are different rules for prospect e-mailing to consumer addresses verses business addresses. Is this true?

A : GREAT Question, and to be honest, we’ve heard both schools of thought, too. After spending lots of time perusing the CAN-SPAM act language, our position is that there really are not any different rules governing mailing to consumer addresses vs. business addresses.

And, yes you CAN prospect to business addresses. But know that you’ll probably never actually take possession of prospect’s e-mail addresses. For example, it’s rare that an organization that collects business e-mails (be they a trade association, a cataloguer or a magazine) will let you take possession of their list of customer e-mails. They may, however, send out your message for you (for a fee, of course).

We definitely approve of a multi-channel approach and like to include e-mail wherever it makes sense. If you follow the following 7 points of the CAN-SPAM Act, you should be fine. We urge you to visit the FTC website and review their language yourself. We’ve summarized the CAN-SPAM requirements below.

The Seven Requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act

  1. There must be a clear and conspicuous remove function available to the recipient for 30 days after the email was sent. This is also known as an “Opt Out” function. You want to en-sure that you’ve given your client the option of receiving or choosing not to receive emails from you.
  2. You’ll need to develop and enforce an unsubscribe or opt out process. This will have to be accomplished both technically, as well as within your e-mail marketing pieces. You’ll need to check to ensure that you are technically prepared to manage and maintain customer “opt-out” suppression lists. And you’ll need to ensure that you have the ability to communicate back to the cli-ent in the required timeframes that you’ve received their re-quests and will place them on your suppression list so that they no longer receive correspondence with you.
  3. You must be able to implement opt-out requests within 10 business days. Opt-outs must be communicated to all customer contact points within your company, added to your suppression lists, and communicated back to the client within this 10 business day requirement.
  4. You must be able to provide a valid physical postal address of the sender so that potential clients or prospects can mail you their request for opting out. The law requires just a postal address. However, it is important to note that the Direct Marketing Asso-ciation (DMA) requires a physical address, i.e. cannot be a PO Box.
  5. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that you clearly “label” your email as an advertisement. This is not required for those who have already opted in to receive information from your company. This requirement is for those non-opted-in clients and for all prospect emailing campaigns. You can use the “reason-able-ness” test here . . . in other words, would the average per-son consider this e-mail to be an advertisement? If so, you’re probably fine. There is no hard law that you have to actually use the word “advertisement” in your subject line.
  6. You must use a valid sender or header information. We’ve all received those illegal messages from Spammers and seen the creative ways that they’ve tried to combat Spam programs by us-ing words in the sender and subject lines that have nothing to do with the “weight loss” or “body part enhancement” message that the e-mail contains. The CAN-SPAM Act requires that both of these fields are not misleading or false in any way.
  7. You must use valid subject information. As referenced in number 6, the Subject line must reflect the intent of the e-mail message and not be misleading in any way.

Finally, on a related topic, we thought you might be interested in today’s post from our other blog (Direct Marketing). Here, we’ve reported on some new research that shows how consumers perceive SPAM. As a marketer, I think that there are some surprising findings…

March 27, 2008 at 12:13 am 1 comment

Increasing Cost of Direct Mail

Q:  We have traditionally used direct mail as the channel for the majority of our direct marketing budget.  With the continuous rise in postal and lettershop costs, along with lower response rates, what are your ideas on how to get the most out of each direct mail campaign?

A:  You are right, direct mail isn’t getting any cheaper based upon all of the factors that you mention — and the increasing difficulty of getting your prospect to pay attention to your mail piece instead of all of the rest of them received on a daily basis.  It’s a tough order!

More and more, in order to get your message through and responded to, you have to insert intelligence in your direct marketing strategy.  When I say intelligence, I’m talking about increasing efficiencies in everything you do.  From the way you collect your data and clean it, to more effectively targeting those prospects who are going to be most highly likely to respond, to really stepping back and assessing your overall direct marketing strategy — you’ve got to not only think of it all but improve in as many areas as you can.

I’m not trying to make this sound like a daunting amount of work . . . it’s almost like taking a “Spring Cleaning” approach.  For example, how long has it been since you’ve really examined your data cleansing techniques?  I know it sounds simple, but with prices increasing across the board, ensuring that your customer data will absolutely be received  by whom you intend it to be received by.  And, make sure that whichever vendor you purchase your prospect data from practices good address hygiening techniques as well.

Next, take a look at how you determine your mail segments for each campaign.  Are you using a solid analytical approach?  Have you recently performed customer profile studies to really understand what those folks who are buying from you look like?  Performing such a study will give you the intelligence that you need to then target those particular prospects that look most like those customers who buy from you today.  In my humble opinion, it’s simply madness not to use an analytical approach — using analytics will not only increase your response rate, but it will decrease your mail costs because you’ll be mailing less — ratcheting in on only those who are most likely to respond to and buy from you.

Finally, think about testing other channels to make your direct mail more effective.  For example, you may want to test e-mailing the message first (announcing that you will be sending a mail piece), then direct mailing the piece, then following up with an additional e-marketing piece.  Many clients that we’ve worked with have found this to be a good approach — it gets their mail pieces read more often than when you send out the piece without using any other channel.

We hope these ideas spark some good discussion in your business.  Best of luck!  And let us and our readers hear about your success!  Thanks for the question.

March 25, 2008 at 2:38 am 9 comments

Direct Marketing and the Economy

Q:  I head up marketing at a telecom provider in the US.  The last few weeks of economic news have been disheartening to say the least.  My budgets have been cut and I’m having to work with less resources.  Give me some ideas of what I can do to keep marketing efforts alive on a smaller budget.

A:  Yep, the reports have been disheartening.  And, it looks like it’ll be a while before the economy shifts back to an upward track again. The first thing to remember is that the economy (and history backs this up) is cyclical.  Right now, direct marketers need to dig in and lay the groundwork for the future for when the economy turns around. You can do things now that help right away, and will also position you better for the future, too.  Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Our first suggestion is to really focus on — and mine — your existing customers.  We always lead with analytics.  Take a look at what your customers look like — do some comprehensive customer profiling.  Once you have a clear idea of what your existing customers look like, then look at what telecommunications services that they currently purchase from you today.  Are these customers on the optimal calling plans?  If not, have your sales force spend their optimizing your loyal customers so that they don’t leave you for a better offer.

Next, take a closer look at what services you can offer your different customer segments.  For example (I’m not sure of your exact service offerings, but), if they are currently long distance customers and you also offer wireless services, see if you can get them to sign up for a combined package for both.  This way, you are increasing the profitability of each customer while increasing overall profitability for your company.  Utilizing analytics, you can determine what may be the next best product to offer these different customer segments, and attack them from a sales perspective in this way.  Your response rates will be higher using this type of modeling.

Also, look at economic ways to connect with your customers.  Using e-marketing, you can send out messages to them relatively inexpensively and almost immediately track your campaign success (which is why we love email — the tracking is so quick, so you can tweak relatively quickly to make your messaging more effective).  Along these lines, make sure that it’s easy to contact you with potential service issues.  How is your website?  Is it easy to do business with?  If it isn’t, this is the time to make changes and make it a good experience when your customers visit.

Let us know if these ideas resonate with you — and better yet, if you implement them, let us know of your success.  If you’d like some more ideas on targeting prospects, let us know.  We didn’t want to overwhelm you with too much information for one question. : )

March 19, 2008 at 10:33 pm Leave a comment

Effective E-Mail Marketing Campaigns

Q: I am a sales trainer and have created a workshop to deliver at several locations nationwide. I’m advertising it on my website, but would also like to send out e-mails to my clients and prospective clients. What’s the best way to go about this — I don’t want to over e-mail and make people mad.

A: Ah yes, the conundrum of how much is too much in direct marketing. Keeping the balance is important because you want to get the message out enough times so that people will actually read it and respond to it but you don’t want to overwhelm them with the message so that they are turned off. While every audience is a bit different, here are some ideas on how we would approach this e-marketing campaign.

First, ensure that you are getting as much mileage out of your website advertising as possible. Include all workshop content and information so that those who visit your website can have all questions answered, can contact you for more info, can read a list of FAQs, etc. Be very clear with the info on your website. We’ve all been there when the information has been incomplete. What happens is that people give up and don’t sign up for your event.

For your e-mail campaigns, ensure that you have an effective landing page for potential attendees to click over to from the e-mail message itself. This can be the same page that you are advertising on your website with all of the good information. Also, if you can, include a fill-in form so that people can register — make it as easy as possible for them. If you can’t accomplish this, ensure that they can fill in enough info so that you can either call them back or e-mail them and assist them in completing the registration with little effort on their part.

For the number of e-mails to send out, here’s a potential schedule that will get respondent’s attention without e-mail overkill. First, send out an announcement of your workshops emphasizing the benefits and directing them to your website for more information. Soon after that (one or two days), send out a pre-registration e-mail with some type of discount for signing up early (early bird registration). If you have a weekly or monthly newsletter or e-zine, mention your workshops in every edition of your regular informational e-mails — even if it’s just a blurb or a reminder of the early bird discount. Then weekly (depending upon how much time until your workshops begin for specific locations) send out another e-mail reminding folks that they are running out of time. In other words, create a sense of urgency. Here, it is important not to become annoying but make it so they want to sign up right now so as to not lose out (“we only have room for a few more sales professionals, so be sure to sign up today”).

Why does it take so many reminders? It’s because not everyone reads each e-mail every time it’s sent out. In our own experience, we’ve been surprised many times when one of our clients tell us, “I didn’t know you were offering that type of consulting,” when we’d been promoting it for several months. You know the drill — people are busy and they get lots of e-mails on a daily basis. They simply don’t have time to read them all.

Good luck with marketing your workshops — we hope this info helps you to fill up every single one with excited participants!

March 11, 2008 at 3:49 pm Leave a comment

E-Marketing Campaigns

Q:  I’d like to put together an e-mail campaign.  I have my message almost ready to go — how do I go about getting a list with e-mails?  And, can I simply acquire the data and send the  campaign out myself?

A:  In our experience,  e-mail marketing providers house the data, and do not return the e-mail addresses for prospect campaigns.  If you simply want e-mail addresses appended to your customer database, you can, in fact do this and deploy the e-mail yourself (if you have the technology to do so).  Most e-mail companies will deploy your e-marketing campaign very reasonably for you. The benefit of having them do it for you is that they can ensure that your email is CAN-SPAM compliant, they manage the bounces, etc., and can provide you with some great reporting on how your campaign is doing.  So, this is definitely something to consider as you plan your campaign.

February 10, 2008 at 10:52 pm Leave a comment

Business E-mail Lists

Q: Where do I get a list of business owner e-mail addresses?

A: There are many firms that offer e-mail addresses. The specific data company you choose will depend on your specific targeting requirements (i.e.: type and size of business). The tool that we use to research mailing lists is NextMark. They have a searchable database that contains over 50,000 mailing lists–always with an indicator of whether or not e-mail addresses are available.

Another idea is to go to InfoUSA, one of the large compilers of business data. They offer e-mail addresses for a portion of their 16 million universe.

One thing to know–rarely will the list owner release their e-mail addresses to you. The way the process works is that you’ll supply your e-mail HTML (the e-mail creative) and the list owner will blast your e-mail to their list. You’ll be supplied with reports that show you where people clicked, etc.

February 7, 2008 at 5:34 pm 1 comment

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