What's The Buzz?

ClickZ Forum members pounced on permission marketing; the use of opt-in email to build and sustain relationships. The consensus was that it’s a great strategy when used judiciously, but it’s important never to be presumptuous. (That’s good advice for life in general).

“Permission marketing involves more than just asking a visitor to enter his email address for the chance to win a Palm Pilot. Yes, he has opted for the opportunity to win the prize, but has he granted you permission to speak to him over time through email?” Bill Stanton asked rhetorically.

“NO,” he answered. “This is an example of a company taking permission for granted and assuming that this guy wants to hear from them. The fact is, the only time he wants to hear from that company is if he wins the Palm Pilot. A follow-up email thanking him for his entry and asking him to opt-in for future emails would be the best approach.”

Bill figures that as Internet users become savvier, they’ll be less likely to “stick their email address in any blank they find online.” But all some marketers seem interested in is building the biggest email database they can, as quickly as possible.

“If a company takes the time to ask for permission on an ongoing basis, they will retain the people who value that message and will gain a customer for life,” Bill wrote. “Make it easy for those not interested in your message to opt-out and concentrate on the people who look forward to your message. It’s all about conversion. If you’re lucky enough to convert a visitor to a customer, do not drive them away with ridiculous emails. Keep it short and relevant, and with due diligence; you will see the results.”

Jim Novo agreed strongly with Bill’s advice about opting out.

“You have to be sure enough of yourself to include the unsubscribe URL at the bottom of the message. Force yourself to do it and think before you send, ‘Is this message relevant enough to them they won’t unsubscribe?’ If not, don’t send it.

“All-out customer acquisition is fine,” Jim continued, “but you better know which customers to spend money on retaining and which are not worth it…

“It’s more profitable to IGNORE some customers,” he added. “If you make customers work a little harder to enter into a relationship with you, you’ll end up with a more valuable customer base, and you won’t waste a lot of time marketing to Bill Melater. Make sure you’re checking IDs at the door of the Permission Bar and Lounge.”

Internet-Advertising – Opt-In Vs. Permission

Permission marketing was also the topic du jour on I-Advertising last week, albeit briefly.

Nari Kannan endeavored to distinguish permission as “tighter” terminology than “opt-in.” Permission is granted to a specific business for a specific purpose (an airline can send me emails announcing discounted fares, for example) while opting-in expresses someone’s interest in a broad category, such as Internet advertising.

Making Banner Ads Work

Rick Welch pronounced himself tired of hearing complaints about low click-through rates are from advertisers “whose web sites are no more than brochureware online…

“Look folks,” he chided, “the marketing program is simple. Put an item online at a price people are willing to pay and the click throughs will increase… E-commerce is just about to explode.

“When we are able to put quality products online at low prices and stress those benefits with banner ads, the viewer will click and buy…

“If there is no benefit selling in the banner ad, there will be low click-throughs. Benefits sell! Quit the whining and start banner benefit marketing strategies now!”

Making the Internet Work

As Alan Zell sees it, before the Internet can realize its promise, “ego-building” sites must be culled out, “hopefully accomplished by eliminating the free web site services.” Also, search engines must “become as good as the Yellow Pages to the Thomas Register…”

Online Ads — Personalization

Online Ads members continued their debate over whether personalization is really personal or site visitors are simply being aggregated into groups.

Kevin Rice questioned Tim Lee’s contention that Amazon.com‘s book recommendation system isn’t an example of one-to-one marketing, because it relies on knowledge of a group and not only knowledge of an individual.

“If Amazon knew that I had previously purchased ‘Marketing Gods – Volume 1’ and on a subsequent visit they highlighted the availability of ‘Marketing Gods – Volume 2’, then that would be ‘one-to-one marketing,’ wouldn’t it?

“If they just tell me that other people (who have been grouped alongside me by their database) have also purchased ‘Marketing Blunders From Hell’ then surely I have been included in a target group of more than one, which must imply a ‘one-to-many’ marketing technique.”

Sign Up

Join Online Ads at www.o-a.com, I-Advertising at www.internetadvertising.org and the ClickZ Forum at www.clickz.com/list/.

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