Is Email Dead or Alive?

By Susan Payton

So I keep hearing email is dead. That spam killed it. And while, despite trying to run by opening new email accounts, spam keeps finding me and hunting me down while it breeds like bacteria, I don’t believe that email is dead. I just read an article in Revenue Magazine called “Old Dog, New Tricks,” about how email is in fact alive and kicking. It says that Web 2.0 is breathing new life into email campaigns.

The article says that according to Datran Media’s December 2006 annual email study, 83.2% of those surveyed chose email marketing as their primary marketing strategy for 2007. That says a lot. It says that business people are getting sales out of email campaigns, so how could email be dead?

Email has definitely evolved in the 10 years it’s been around. Now the focus is on user generated content (UGC). Rather than pummeling subscribers with sales messages, more businesses are offering content from customers, which creates a better tie between company and subscriber. Businesses are also using email to promote their blogs, RSS feeds and videos. The less like advertising it looks, the better received it is. And if readers enjoy the emails, they’ll always come back and become customers.

So what are the rules for making email work for your business? They’re simple, but good to review:

* Build your own database of contacts. Collect email addresses from every business card you’ve received and every email you get. Put an opt-in widget on your website. This greatly increases the likelihood that readers will stick with you and not unsubscribe, if they have even a remote connection to you. I’m not a fan of buying lists. It’s taken me over a year to get 200+ contacts, but they’ve stayed with me for the most part.
* Offer free information. People love digestible bits of knowledge. Make it relevant to your business.
* Offer “exclusive” specials just for your subscribers. Watch and see if sales don’t pick up after you send one out.
* Use a program like Constant Contact to make your emails professional and appealing.
* ALWAYS proof your emails before they go out! And send them to yourself to see if there are glaring errors first.

Susan Payton is Managing Partner of Egg Marketing & Public Relations. She assists small businesses with marketing strategy and corporate communications. She is also the author of 101 Entrepreneur Tips, a handy guide that helps entrepreneurs make repeat customers, close the sale, and delegate work. For more information on Susan and Egg Marketing, visit www.eggmarketingpr.com. Get free shoestring marketing advice on Susan’s blog, www.eggmarketingblog.com.

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