Think about your own online use. How much time do you really spend surfing the web, hopping from site to site and searching for new content?
Now think about the time you spend reading and processing email. Consider how much time you spend checking it, responding to it, writing it, and even deleting it. If you are anything like me, it might be the first thing you do in the morning, and the last thing you do at night.
Your customers are no different. And as an online marketer, you need to be precisely where most people spend the most time. And that is, in their emailboxes. Email, in fact, should not be just an adjunct to your marketing program. It should be a cornerstone.
Enough theory. Let's talk turkey.
CDnow wouldn't have nearly as much as my disposable income if it didn't send me the Ann Handley Edition of its newsletter every so often. Lands' End may not have been the retailer of choice for my 7-year-old's winter squall if it hadn't chatted me up in a mailing about the new 1999 colors. And when Jeff Bezos sends me a note... well, I just swoon for a book or two.
Am I a sucker for retailing? Actually... uh, no. I'm actually a rather tough sell.
But these companies have been successfully pitching to me because I've invited them to talk to me via email. I've asked them to visit me every once in a while, pull up a chair and tell me what I'd be interested in hearing about.
They consistently offer me something I find compelling. And so I tend to let them in when they come back.
The same applies to your company, of course. The best way to actually market to any segment is to be invited in to talk to them. If they want to hear what you say, they'll be far more likely to listen... and to invite you back again to chat some more.
If your customers perceive that you offer something of value, you get to stay. If you don't... well, don't let the door slam you on your way out.
So how do you get them to open the door and invite you in? Or even... where can you find the right doors to knock on?
That's what this article series, which kicks off next Monday, is all about. Over the next several months, ClickZ will give you a blueprint for this thing called email marketing.
As you'll hear from us, email marketing IS, in fact, rocket science. There's a right way and a decidedly wrong way to do it. What's more, it's also something of an art - there are some subtleties to email marketing that can make or break a campaign.
Your guide in all this will be Kim MacPherson, the president and founder of Selling By Design, Inc., a D.C. area-based online direct marketing firm. Loyal ClickZ readers might recognize Kim from a bit of conference coverage she did from eBiz this fall. And now Kim, who has established a niche in web and email promotional copy and design, is joining ClickZ for a regular gig.
The sponsor behind this column is Media Synergy's flonetwork, an outsourced email direct marketing solution. The product is designed specifically to meet the needs of online marketers. Our friends there say that the flonetwork is revolutionizing direct marketing over the Internet, and say it's the first email solution designed expressly for marketers.
Next week, Kim takes the reins, with a column that'll outline the specific problems and issues she'll be tackling over the next several months. In the meantime, feel free to email Kim directly with some story ideas of your own.
See you next week.
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Ann Handley is co-founder of ClickZ and served as its president and chief content officer until her departure in 2001. She has more than 15 years of experience as a business writer and editor. Ann has a fondness for great red wines, good writing, wordsmith.org, dark humor, and anything Starbucks. And don't cross her... she's a Scorpio.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT