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Using Internet Direct Mail To Increase Your Company?s Profits

"I want to sell my company's products on the Web, but how do I get potential clients to visit my site," a client asked recently. The answer is a strategy that has proven extremely effective for many different businesses?Internet Direct Mail.

One of the most common mistakes many businesses make is putting up a website and then sitting around biting their nails waiting for people to come. This approach isn't going to work. If you want people to visit your site, you've got to make it happen. And sending an e-mail invitation is one of the best ways to build website traffic and boost your company's profits.

Of course, sending an e-mail to a random group of people asking them to "please come and visit our site," isn't going to work very well either. You need to get your e-mail to the right people and then give those people a reason to visit, or they won't bother. The most effective way to achieve a high response to an e-mail marketing campaign is to follow these guidelines:

Identify Your Customers. Many companies make the mistake of creating an impressive e-mail marketing campaign and only think about exactly to whom they're going to send it to at the last minute. Yet, choosing the right customers accounts for approximately 40 percent of the success of any marketing strategy.

Get your message into the right hands by using a mailing list. You can begin with your own in-house list-made up of people who have bought or shown an interest in buying from you in the past, and have specifically requested to receive information. Once you've compiled your list the success of your campaign will then depend on how you format your email.

The From Line. Think carefully about how people will react to the e-mail address that will appear in the from line. This address acts as a filtering devise for recipients and many will instantly delete your email if they don't recognize the person who sent it, or feel that it isn't legitimate.

The Subject Line. Avoid using the word free or save in the subject line. Many Internet users have spam filter software, which they set to instantly delete any message with these words included. Use short statements that tease the reader similar to those used in traditional printed direct mail.

The Headline. Begin your message with a powerful headline or lead sentence and identify the benefit to recipients right up front.

Offer Incentives. To boost your e-mail's response rate present a free offer that can only be accepted if the prospect visits your site. Other options include offering the recipient $10 off or a 20% discount, free information such as newsletters and articles, or free shipping. If you can't think of a free offer (you can) still stress the benefits of your site: money saving ideas, tips or news, links to useful resources etc. Don't make these offers exclusive to the reader. Instead encourage them to forward the email to friends and colleagues. Try something like this: "Give this special offer to your friends by forwarding them this e-mail now. They'll be glad you did!"

The Hook. State your offer in the first paragraph and provide an immediate response mechanism. Clicking on a link connected to a web page appeals to Internet users with short attention spans. Another option that works well is to encourage the recipient to pick up the phone and dial a toll-free number. Some companies are now building an online response form into their e-mail messages. These encourage the recipient to fill in their name, address, company, e-mail, phone number and any other information in the blank field and then hit a send button.

The Body. Keep the body text short and conversational. Short paragraphs and wide margins make your email easier to read. At the close of the e-mail provide another link and repeat your offer again.

Include a Call to Action. Make sure your email tells your reader about the benefits of your product or service and gives him enough information to make a decision. Then tell him clearly and simply what you want him to do: visit your web site, sign up for a newsletter, renew a subscription. Finally, get him to act NOW! Because if he doesn't click on your link right away, he probably never will.

Opt in, Opt Out. The two rules of email marketing are to always mail only to opt-in lists (a database of e-mail addresses that have been willingly submitted as a request to receive information). And to make sure you provide a mechanism for recipients to opt-out. The former is easy-only e-mail to genuine opt-in lists. For the latter include a paragraph at the end of your email that tells the recipient how to opt-out. Never send an e-mail without including an opt-out option. In addition new Can-Spam legislation requires that a physical postal address be included in your mailing. Follow these simple rules because you do not, I repeat, do not want to be labeled a spammer.

HTML versus Plain Text. Deciding whether to use plain text or HTML primarily depends on what you're selling. For example, if you're selling clothing or CDs, the graphic format of HTML allows recipients to see pictures of the product and tend to be more captivating. If in doubt offer two lists: one in plain text and the other in HTML. That way you can let your subscribers decide.

What Response Can You Expect. A recent survey of advertisers conducted by the Direct Marketing Association found that e-mail marketing was the strongest (compared to several other forms of advertising) in customer retention, and generated the most online traffic. In addition, research suggests that email marketing typically delivers twice the response rate of paper direct mail at about half the cost.

About The Author

Julia Hyde is an advertising copywriter and consultant specializing in search engine marketing and copywriting, direct mail and other marketing materials businesses need to increase sales. For more information on how Julia can help boost your company's profits, email her now at info@juliahyde.com. Or visit her website at www.juliahyde.com

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