Use Email Marketing Effectively

Are you looking for a way to communicate with your customers? You are probably aware that one way to make contact with your clients is through email.

Did the word SPAM just fly through your thoughts? It is a common concern among small business owners who are considering whether they should venture into using email as a way of communicating with their clients.

If you are reading this communication, you are probably versed in the basics of standard email tools, such as Outlook or online email. You may even use these tools now to contact customers, on a one on one basis. There are many other tools available, such as auto-responders, which make email communication more versatile.

Email can be an inexpensive and easy tool for connecting with customers. If you take the proper approach bulk emails to customers is not SPAM Email1and1 . A bit of knowledge can help alleviate any fears you may experience, so here are some definitions that pertain to this critical business skill.

What are the components of an effective email signature? I’ve seen horribly long email signatures (as many as 20 lines), signatures missing basic contact information, and email signatures that leave me thinking, “So what?”. Here’s how you can create an effective email signature that will help you get clients online:

1. Keep it short. Nothing is worse than reading an email signature that’s longer than the email itself. To be most effective, limit yourself to no more than 7 lines. As you participate in discussion lists or online forums, the list moderators may limit your signature to as few as 5 lines. So, just like you make your printed business card “Rolodex proof” (i.e. don’t put essential contact info at the bottom of the card where it will be lost when holes are punched into it for your Rolodex), keep your most essential info in the first 5 lines of your signature file. That way, if some info is cut off when you post to a discussion forum, it won’t be the essential info that you want to convey. Better yet, do as I do and create various email signature files for different uses, including ones specifically created to comply with the rules of various discussion lists to which I belong.

2. Include only essential contact info. This would include your name and title or tag line, as appropriate, phone number, website, and email address. The phone number and email address may be optional, depending on the purpose of your email and how it might be displayed (for example, sometimes an email discussion list will post your email address automatically in the body of your post, so you can use that space in your signature for something else).

Don’t list every single way that someone can contact you — only the most important, essential methods that you prefer. I’ve seen some email signatures contain 5 phone numbers. The lines listing those phone numbers can be much more effectively used for another purpose. And, make sure your email address is the email address at your website. Sometimes you might not get the option of posting your website URL, so if you can only post an email signature, savvy readers can ascertain your website URL from your signature. Don’t use your email signature real estate to give any more free publicity to Yahoo, Google, AOL, Earthlink, or any number of other ISPs.

3. Make an offer for a free introductory product. What’s your free giveaway on your site — an ecourse, email newsletter, special report, ebook, audio or video clips? Give people a reason to visit your site by offering your freebie in your email signature. If your freebie contains info that they want, publicizing it in your email signature is a definite way to get them to visit your website.

4. Auto sendout. Every email program has the capability to automatically append an email signature to every piece of email that you send. Make sure that feature is turned on in your email program so that you don’t miss any valuable marketing opportunities. It’s tough to contact you if your email is missing its signature file.

5. Plain text or HTML? I’m still a big fan of sending out plain text emails for day-to-day correspondence. For the most part, I don’t use fancy fonts or special colors or formatting in my signature file. I want my email signature to be clearly displayed in any email program, and plain text is the best way to accomplish that. There are services like Plaxo (for users of Microsoft Outlook) that will let you create a business card image that is appended to your email as your email signature and import that into Outlook. However, I don’t use Outlook and I find these cumbersome, as there isn’t a way to cut and paste the sender’s contact info into my contact database. Additionally, many online discussion lists and forums don’t accept images or HTML in their posts. So, even though the business card images look pretty, I would encourage you to stick with a plain text email signature.

6. Make it clickable. Because you never know what email program your recipient is using, type in a few extra characters in the email address and website URL lines of your email signature file to guarantee that the link will be clickable. For a website URL, type in the entire URL, starting with http:// rather than simply www. to make sure that your link is universally clickable. For your email address, adding mailto: at the beginning of your email address, i.e. mailto:yourname@youremailaddress.com will enable the reader to click on that link and will open a blank email addressed to you in any email program.

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