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Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Top Ten Email Marketing Mistakes made by Small Businesses

By Vinai

Email marketing isnt complex or new. Yet we see the same mistakes being made over and over by the marketing executives, sales professionals and owners of small businesses.

If done correctly, email marketing is a very effective medium to generate new leads, and build continuous contact with your past customers and prospects. It can easily help you to yield new sales and help you meet your targets.

Take care of these top 10 mistakes and you are on your way to new sales!

1. Underestimating Current Customers List - This is by far the biggest mistake we see. Marketers just disregard their current customer list, and leave money on the table. Even worse, most have no systematic way of capturing their customers email and contact details in a common list.

And they lament the fact that the economy is doing badly, or that it is extremely difficult to convince new customers. A consolidated email list can be easily used to market new products to existing customers or to get repeat orders if done regularly and consistently.

2. Dropping Prospects Half Way - It is a proven fact that a new prospect will take an average of 5-7 different interactions before they build enough trust on you, your company and your products or services before thinking of buying from you. So if you drop prospects after meeting them once or twice, thinking that they are not qualified or do not seem interested, you are losing sales too quickly.

Continue to hand hold them, and stay in continuous contact will help you in the long run, as you will be familiar to the prospect. People love to do business with people they know, and not strangers.

3. Not interested in Educating the prospect - The marketers are so focused on sales, that they do not spend enough time with their prospects to educate them. Remember that if you service a prospect well, they will most likely convert to a paying customer sooner or later. Have patience. Use email to market to them regularly with information, education, free offers etc. until they build enough trust to buy from you.

4. Using cheap lists - Using 300,000 emails from a $100 CD is bound to fail. These email addresses are mostly defunct, and most are acquired through snooping and email extraction from forums. Most will not be from your target market anyway. Just sending a blatant marketing message is a sure-fire way to get yourself banned from major Internet Service Providers.

You can either buy a good list of your target group from reputed list brokers, or start compiling your own house list of all past and current prospects, customers, vendors, suppliers, contractors to market to them, and take their help to market to their associates.

5. No specific Target - One big, long message for everyone is no longer smart or effective. Nothing works the fast way. Now the trend is to do personalised, 1 to 1 marketing. If your standard message is for all prospects in all industries, chances are that it does not address anyone needs.

It is best to send several small, targeted emails to focus groups, which you can track to see what works in which industry, and who opened which mail. With this potent arsenal, you can focus your efforts on those chose few to spend your time upon, and generate sales with a much bigger ROI.

6. Boring Marketing Message or Ad copy - A long repetitive message is no way to capture the prospects attention. You cant even watch a boring movie even if you paid for the tickets, so who is going to read your unasked for marketing email if you are not addressing the problem.

Most messages spend countless paragraphs talking about what they offer, their products, services, and me, me, me. Theres nothing in the message to catch the readers attention. You need to talk about the problems faced by your target market, their industry, and their issues. Once you establish a bond by acknowledging that you know about their problems, they will be more amenable to your message, and products.

7. Marketing message is not consistent with other Company Collateral - Many marketing firms just send out a message, without making sure that it is consistent with the other company material. It is not even properly linked to the companys website, and does not incorporate the complete office address, telephone, fax, contact information. Just giving an email address is not sufficient to build trust and prove that yours is a genuine offer.

8. Marketing folks dont have time to update anyone about their initiatives - Most of the time, the services folks, the receptionist and other employees of the company are not even aware of what marketing is up to. So when a prospect calls the office to talk about the offer made in the email, neither the receptionist has a clue, nor the employee from the service department. None has seen the email, and have no idea who to refer this prospect to. Here goes another lost sales.

Marketing efforts need to be integrated over the entire organisation, and everyone should understand the need & importance.

9. No system to measure response - Marketing just continues to send out message after message: No ROI, no measurement of efforts, and no mechanism to evaluate the response of past messages. No wonder these efforts hardly bring in any results or prospects.

A systematic measurement system is very important. With emails, you can tag each and every link, email account and email sent, so that when it is opened or clicked, you can immediately know who is interested, who is keen to buy, what product, and how eagerly.

With a good measurement, you can call those few that spent time with your message, or on your website, and by knowing their browsing behaviour, you can customise future messages for them. Market something that they have shown interest on, and you are closer to another sale.

10. No clear goal or strategy - Start with the right goal and strategy. Your first goal should be to establish trust and credibility within your target market.

Secondly, get the prospect interested enough in what you are selling, so that they are willing to give you their contact information.

Thirdly, your marketing message should be sent out regularly so that the prospect expects it, waits for it, and it shows that you are consistent, reliable, and trustworthy.

Remember, marketing exists to generate leads, prospects and help sales and delivery teams to close the deals, & not for any other purpose. So focus, and strategize on these lines.

Email marketing has been proven time and again, if done correctly. Big companies like IBM, Amazon, Hp are using it effectively, and smaller companies are catching up fast in understanding its marketing reach.

With its lows cost, and effectiveness, email marketing helps to build long term relationships with your target audience. Use it wisely, and ye shall reap its rewards.

Vinai is a successful web and marketing consultant who has been providing sage advice to small and medium businesses in building, managing and profiting from email marketing & e-commerce websites for the past 6 years.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


10 Essentials of Writing Press Releases

  1. Make the information newsworthy.

  2. Let the audience know that the information is for them and let them know why they should keep reading it.

  3. Begin with a short description of the news, then indicate who announced it, not the other way around.

  4. Ask yourself this question, "How are people going to relate to this and will they be able to connect?"

  5. Pay particular attention to the first 10 words of your release to make sure they are effective. Remember the first 10 words are the most important.

  6. Avoid using a lot of adjectives and fancy language.

  7. Spell out the facts.

  8. Include as much Contact information as possible: Person to Contact, address, phone, fax, email, Web address.

  9. Be patient and make sure you wait until you have something with enough substance to issue a release.

  10. Make it "Media Friendly". Make it as easy as possible for a media representatives to do their jobs.

Sample Format for a Press Release:

Contact Person
Company Name
Telephone Number
Fax Number
Email Address
Web site address

City, State, Date — Opening Paragraph: (should contain: who, what, when, where, why)

Remainder of body text - Should include any relevant information to your products or services. Include benefits, why your product or service is unique. Also include quotes from staff members, industry experts or satisfied customers.

If there is more than 1 page use:

(The top of the next page):
Abbreviated headline (page 2)

Remainder of text.
(Restate Contact information after your last paragraph):

For additional information or a sample copy, Contact:
(all Contact information)

Summarize product or service specifications one last time

Company History (try to do this in one short paragraph)

# # #
(indicates Press Release is finished)

Monday, October 24, 2005


Online Business Press Release Writing Tips And Ideas

Press releases are one of the most cost-effective ways to get promotion for your online business. Many entrepreneurs ignore this type of promotion because they don't know how to write a press release. It's important to promote your online business with press releases because of the media all over the internet. The following is a list of some common press release writing tips:

Another reason entrepreneurs ignore promoting their online business with press releases is because they don't know what's newsworthy. Here are 16 online business press release ideas:

You can get other press release writing tips and ideas by reading other businesses press releases, reading how to publications, talking to experts and visiting other media web sites. I hope this article persuades and helps you to promote your business through press releases.

Kind regards,
Mike Larsen

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