What's The Buzz?

Email marketing took center stage in the ClickZ Forum. Can its effectiveness be blunted by marketers’ heavy-handedness?

“If too many end users receive too many emails, then we’ve effectively killed the goose that laid the golden egg,” wrote Chris Donaldson. “Unless we practice due diligence, pursue quality lists and manage those lists with end users foremost in mind, we’ll effectively ‘unsubscribe’ the market we’re all pursuing.”

ClickZ moderator Richard Hoy agreed that email marketing could become increasingly inefficient. “I sign up for everything and end up with 100 emails in my in-box, all looking the same. So I read little or none of it.”

Email will remain cheaper than direct (postal) mail but scarcely more efficient, in Richard’s view. “You’ll still be wasting your message on the majority of the list. Permission marketing ain’t achieved with the current opt-in list broker models.”

Not necessarily, countered Jim Sterne. “The net-net result will be that only those who are well and truly qualified will subscribe. I predict that the subject matter choices will multiply, the subscribers to each one will decrease, and response rates will increase.”

So much for whys and wherefores. ClickZ Forum members piled on with suggestions for making email marketing campaigns more effective.

All About Email

Be brief, advised Ariel Poler. “The most effective email messages are no more than a few paragraphs point reader(s) to where they can find more information.”

“Either write the message with a compelling summary in the first two paragraphs, or provide me a table of contents of what’s in the dispatch,” Todd Copilevitz concurred. “Tell me quickly who you are, and why you’re writing to me. And do it with attitude. There’s too much boring copy in the world.”

“Deliver the highest compatible format message,” Todd continued. “Don’t expose me to the lowest common denominator and expect me to be excited about it. Deliver the messages when I’m ready. If it’s a business message, don’t expect me to read it at home while spending time online with my daughter. And don’t launch email and go on vacation. Have a personalized message ready for me when I respond.”

“Be creative, test, try, refine and repeat,” was Tim Lunn’s advice. “Test and refine a lot. The spamming risk and other email horrors are exaggerated. So much email marketing is mundane, and it can be an exciting medium.” But personalize your offers. Don’t rely too heavily on automated email and “be clearly human. Candor and ‘tongue-in-cheek’ work very well.”

Execs from email marketing agency Digital Impact underscored the importance of testing every aspect of an email campaign. And don’t try this at home.

“Just as you wouldn’t hire a carpenter working on your house to work on your car simply because he is a ‘repair man,’ so companies would be well advised not to have web site designers create the HTML emails which necessitate valuable testing knowledge and market understanding,” urged Carlie Schubert.

Bespoke Marketing

On I-Advertising, Miles Kemp attacked the point of view that the Internet “is just another advertising medium and will soon start acting like all the restThrow enough variations online (like those damn ‘interstitials’). Make them more like TV ads and everything’ll be OK.”

But the old marketing paradigms no longer hold in Miles’ opinion. “Online marketing’s USP (unique selling proposition) is utterly distinct from all other media: The ability to monitor user patterns with pinpoint accuracy, and then respond to them, making each users’ experience a bespoke experience.

“No one dislikes seeing an ad for a product they’re interested in. In fact, it’s flattering – kind of like visiting the nice old tailor who knows your name and what you like to wear. And of course, the user’s not the only winner: Marketers and retailers increase their click-through-to-acquisition margins, plus a wealth of ultra-specific demographic data.”

The industry needs bespoke-marketing software and an industry-standard package for monitoring user tracking from click-through to fulfillment. “These two apps, if widely applied, would transform marketing from the muddy world it is now to a truly scientific business – what’s more, a scientific business with a bit of ol’ fashioned human warmth.”

Ad-Supported Sites

Other topics grabbing the interest of I-Advertising members included content for a TV station’s web site, the prevalence of Flash and the extent to which sites can be supported by advertising.

On the latter thread, Nari Kannan wrote, “We are nearing the end-game for most of the purely advertising-supported business model startups. The truth is that 80 percent of Internet traffic goes to about the top 25 web sites Watch for all the high-fliers to hit the skids sometime in October or November. Then it will be time for Internet Businesses that have regular revenues and profit streams.

Domain Name Speculation

Online Ads concerned themselves with domain name speculation, among other topics. ClickZ’s Andy Bourland suggested that domain name sales should be handled the way investment bankers sell online properties. “The current approach of simply listing your name and price at a myriad of questionable enterprises is nowhere close to tapping the possibilities,” he wrote.

Mike Nelson drew some flak by suggesting there’s no difference between buying and selling domain names and buying and selling real estate. The difference, according to Dana Adams, is that there are no trademarks at issue in owning a prime piece of real estate. “If Dell or Dow Jones wanted (real estate), they would have to strike a deal or go elsewhere. There is no ‘elsewhere’ on the Net.”

Chris Korda strongly agreed, “People who make $$$ off legit business names by registering them as Internet domains, meaning those who attempt to cash in (on) other people’s hard work by attempting to STEAL their Internet identity are like pickpockets, wanting something they did not earn.”

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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