E-mail Marketing - Beyond The Basics

By now, you've probably got email and have realized it's an incredibly cost and time effective way of communicating with clients and customers.

For most, the next logical step is learning how to use email for more than just keeping in touch, but for personal promotion and marketing as well.

With that in mind, below are some of the eight most important steps to take in order to turn this technology into an effective marketing tool.

  1. Use A Real Internet Service Provider (ISP)

Millions of people are currently members of America Online (AOL) and other similar services such as CompuServe and Prodigy.

While these services are fine for personal use, they do not offer the flexibility necessary to effectively use e-mail in a business environment.

I'm not telling anyone to abandon AOL, or the others, for personal enjoyment. What I'm saying is that for business purposes you need to get direct Internet access through an ISP. You can have both, as many do.

Whether you choose a regional ISP, such as www.bellsouth.net or a national one, www.earthlink.net for example, is a matter of personal choice and dependent upon costs and local availability.

However, try not to fret over which ISP you choose. If you're unhappy with the service you receive, you can easily change providers.

2) Get A Permanent Email Address

One of the problems in marketing yourself effectively with email is that you will probably change your ISP at some point in the future, and this will result in you losing your previous email address.

This can happen whether your ISP goes out of business, merges with another company or simply no longer offers good service at a price you want to pay.

I've personally changed ISP's (and thus, email accounts) over a dozen times in the last four years.

In order to keep these changes from disrupting your marketing plan you need a permanent email address that won't be subject to change.

There are several methods of getting a permanent email address. You can register your own domain at services like www.register.com and www.mailbank.com or you can pay a nominal fee for using someone else's domain through sties such as www.bigfoot.com or www.mail.com for example.

Regardless of how you get a permanent address the result is the same, you now market yourself with the permanent address exclusively, and have your email forwarded automatically to your current ISP email account.

The value behind this strategy is that the next time you change ISP's you won't have to worry about missing important email sent to your permanent address. Instead, you simply change the forwarding address to send all future mail to your new ISP and your marketing will never suffer.

3) Promote Your Address Everywhere

Once you have a permanent email address you must print it on absolutely everything. More and more of today's technologically sophisticated consumers will choose to do business with people who they feel will provide them with convenient service, and email is certainly this.

If your e-mail address isn't on your business card, stationery, classified advertisements and all of your other promotional materials, then you are needlessly costing yourself business!

Look at it this way: If an out of town buyer is looking through a "Homes Magazine" they picked up while visiting your area and has circled ten ads, who will they contact first, agents that included their email addresses or those with just phone numbers?

While some will still prefer to call first, more and more consumers are going to use email as their first choice for contact. This is especially true if it's a long distance call, late at night and they're in a different time zone!

4) Use A Professional Email Program

While there are plenty of free e-mail software programs, and you probably received one with your Internet access provider, you can use the program of your choice.

Eudora Pro, www.eudora.com is the current market leader in e-mail software, and is perfectly suited for business communications. Eudora allows you to perform numerous tasks that can save you an incredible amount of time.

The ability to set up logical mailing lists, (buyers in one and sellers in another, for example) and to automatically sort your incoming mail, are just a couple of reasons that spending a few dollars now will save you hours and hours of time, each and every month.

5) Personal Promotion With "Signature" Files.

Basically, a signature file is simply a text message that will automatically be added to the end of every message you send. Make sure yours not only has your name, but your email address, what type of business you specialize in, and the city and state where you work.

Programs like Eudora will let you create multiple signature files, and you should take full advantage of this capability. For instance, you might want the message that buyers receive to be different from the one that targets seller prospects.

It's amazing how many business leads can be developed simply because someone realizes that they have a friend or associate who is doing business in your town, and that you just happen to offer the type of service that they need!

6) Use More Than Just Text

Many users of e-mail are not aware of how easy it is to send computer files as attachments to their messages.

While you could send any file on your computer via e-mail, the most common attachments would be word processing documents like flyers and contracts, MLS data and property photographs.

The biggest problem most users face is how to make sure the recipient can actually read the attachment - we've all had someone send us a file our computer didn't have the software to support.

The solution is to use electronic document software such as Adobe Acrobat or HotSend (www.adobe.com or www.hotsend.com) to create electronic versions of all your MLS searches, contracts, highlight sheets etc.

With either of these tools, you can be assured that whatever you want to send via email, the buyer or seller on the other end will be able to read it!

Not only does sending all of your "paperwork" electronically save time and postage, but it truly offers the prospect a level of service that they will very much appreciate.

7) Automatically Respond To Incoming Leads

Using Eudora you can combine "filters" with "stationary" (form letters) to automate your marketing and follow up service with email.

Filters allow you to specify what should be done with incoming messages, and this includes the ability to respond with pre-written messages.

Implementing this kind of automated marketing takes just three steps:

  1. You could create a marketing form letter for each of your listings. (called stationary)
  2. Then, in all of your classified advertising you direct the prospect to email you for more information about the property or service.
  3. Finally, you create a filter that looks for keywords (an MLS number or street address for example) and automatically responds with the appropriate message. This message, by the way, could also include property photos and highlight sheets as attachments!

This kind of marketing and service is fast, efficient and impressive!

8) Personalize Your Mass-Mailings

As you begin to collect email addresses from all of your prospects, contacts, past customers and clients the next step is to use this information to prospect and follow-up on a mass scale.

Sending an electronic newsletter would be the most common, (but not only) example.

You can use software like WorldMerge to easily send personalized messages, at a rate of 600-900 messages per hour, and without long distance charges or busy signals. This software is very inexpensive and can send mail-merged email to an unlimited number of recipients and works with standard text files that can be exported from any contact manager.

A word of caution: Many business people get carried away with broadcast e-mail once they first learn how easy, and cheap, it is to perform. However, the Internet has its own standards on etiquette. Do not send unsolicited e-mail to people you do not know, and make sure that the information that you send is going to be of interest to the recipient.

Sending "junk" e-mail to those you do not know will result in some very negative feedback.

The best news of all, you can implement all eight email marketing steps into your business routine in a matter of months, without having to really learn that much about computing technology.

So, take the next step, and watch your email marketing results as they begin to pay big dividends!

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Copyrighted with all rights reserved by Stephen M. Canale