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Email Marketing Questions


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12 replies to this topic

#1 jlady

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 05:51 PM

We are a small awards and recognition business and am just starting to look into email marketing.

I want to start a bulk emailing list and use a service like constant contact but it looks like you can't add email addresses and the only way to add email addresses is people have to subscribe to the list. Is this correct?

From what I see you can't send unsolicited emails to "anyone" not even your own customers? Is this also correct, so in essence I can't put my existing customers on the list?

Can I just send one unsolicited email to them and ask them to join??

I just want to understand what is considered acceptable email practices in email marketing.


#2 Jill

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 07:40 PM

QUOTE
From what I see you can't send unsolicited emails to "anyone" not even your own customers? Is this also correct, so in essence I can't put my existing customers on the list?


I think you can, but I would suggest checking with the email list host that you plan to use.

Personally, I wouldn't add anyone unless they specifically asked to receive your email. But that's not necessarily the rule, just my personal preference.

#3 Randy

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 09:55 PM

Basically all of the mailing list service out there are going to require a verified opt in or as they call it a double opt in. That's where when someone signs up with their email address an email gets sent to them and they have to do something else (usually click a link) to verify it's really their email address and that they really want to be on the mailing list. If you already have a mailing list and want to migrate it to one of those services they'll require you to prove that you have a double opt in from each recipient.

That's all a really good idea on their part, otherwise their services would get overrun by spammers and it would hurt people trying to run a legitimate mailing list.

So basically the only way you can do this with a customer list is to send them an email outside of the mailing list service asking them to sign up. Give them the link to the mailing list service to use when signing up. And you may even want to offer them some tasty treat (say 10% off their next purchase via coupon or free shipping with their next purchase) to encourage more folks to sign up. Still, I wouldn't expect a large percentage to do it. Only if you get a lot of repeat purchases.

On that sending email bit to get them on your list, I'd be careful with that too. It sort of depends upon what your terms were when they signed up, considering they probably weren't asked if they wanted to receive additional information via email. Chances are you're going to get some complaints. What you want to be careful about is to not overdo it or get too aggressive to the point that you end up getting your domain's mailservers blacklisted. If you're talking about sending that out to 10,000 former customers or to people who last bought something from you 2 years ago, you're probably asking for trouble.

Also know that many, many hosting companies these days have limits and alarms set up to alert them when someone either sends out an email with hundreds of cc'd or bcc'd recipients, or sends hundreds of emails in a relatively short time period. I have this set up on every server I manage, and I don't even sell hosting anymore. You can count on all of the big boys having something similar set up to watch out for possible spammers on their network. So you'll probably want to check with your host first to let them know what you have in mind, just to make sure you don't step over the line too far and get your hosting shut down on you.

#4 Jill

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 08:32 AM

QUOTE
Basically all of the mailing list service out there are going to require a verified opt in or as they call it a double opt in. That's where when someone signs up with their email address an email gets sent to them and they have to do something else (usually click a link) to verify it's really their email address and that they really want to be on the mailing list. If you already have a mailing list and want to migrate it to one of those services they'll require you to prove that you have a double opt in from each recipient.


The thing is, they don't actually do that.

I'm pretty sure you can upload any list to aweber, constantcontact, campaigner, and the like. Now, if it gets a pile of spam complaints they will shut you do, so you have to keep that in mind.

#5 jlady

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 11:06 AM

So when a small business is first starting this email program you basically start with no list and gradually build it, and it sounds like it takes a long time to build a substantial list. So it sounds like I have to "advertise" my list to my customers maybe in my signature, flyers, on my web page, ask them in person and hope they sign up on there own.

In those situations do most people sign up right away with an email service like constant contact even though they don't have a list of emails??

I don't even know yet what I would offer in my email blast, I have written down some ideas, but I would really like to have different email blasts each time, such as sales, new items, what we offer, why recognize employees and other informational stuff.



#6 Randy

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Posted 10 October 2009 - 12:22 PM

Truth of the matter is you don't need, and shouldn't necessarily want, a huge mailing list. Those 200,000 members lists are 99% junk that just get people complaining to and about you. Great for bragging to people who don't know any better, but that's about it.

What you want to shoot for is having a list that includes 1,000 people who actually buy stuff and who hopefully like you enough to read what you send them from time to time. If that means a list of 1,001 people, perfect. If it means a list of 5,000 or 10,000 people, pretty good. But you shouldn't be shooting for having to have a 100,000 member mailing list just to find 1,000 buyers. Or if you end up with one that large you'd be wise to pare it down to the actual buyers.

Why the rather arbitrary number of 1,000?

Because in my experience if you have 1,000 real buyers on your mailing list you cannot help but gross at least $100,000 per year in sales that come directly from and because of your email marketing. wink1.gif

#7 WSO

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 05:33 PM

Randy, as interesting as your posts generally are, that last one had a couple things that I'd really be interested in hearing you comment on further. First is your term "real buyers". I agree 100% with what you say in your post, but I'm curious as to how you define a "real buyer". Would it be someone who has purchased, online, from you before, and opted in to your list? If they bought just once, would you consider them a "real buyer"? Anything that might get you to consider an email on your list as a real buyer even if they haven't purchased anything to date?

Essentially, if I'm running an online store, and I have an opt-in list of say, 5,000 emails (either from someone having made a purchase and checking the opt-in box during checkout, or from just signing up for our email list on our site without making a purchase), I'm trying to figure out how you would determine which of them are "real buyers".

Which gets me to my second question from your post. If I had a list of 1,000 real buyers, and let's say I have a conversion rate of around 2%, and an average order size of $60, how often would you be sending an email to achieve that gross level of $100,000? Our emails have been mostly promotional so far--not enough good helpful non-sales information. But still, we get decent results on our emails, which tells me that people on our list are interested in just seeing what we have "on special" from time to time. But I'm not sure if we're not sending out often enough, or if we're getting close to sending too often, where we become an annoyance.

What are your thoughts?

Tom


#8 Randy

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Posted 29 October 2009 - 08:20 PM

How often really depends upon the list, or really the people on the list and why they signed up in the first place. There are lots of approaches and none is perfect for every list.

For instance, if people signed up to get email about special offers you really wouldn't want to deluge them every week or two, with the possible exception of if you actually ran real specials every week or two. Sending too much will pare down your list quickly, but it's indiscriminate paring. You'll get the real buyers along with the dross.

On the opposite side of a similar coin if you had a list where people signed up for to receive free information or some sort of autoresponder tutorial where they got a new lesson every few days or once per week, then you probably wouldn't want to break too far from that pattern if you're doing updated information or sales copy after the initial period. The break would also break the flow of what they've already become accustomed to.

I've run both a time or two in the past and had success with each approach, as well as some inbetween. But I certainly wouldn't consider myself some sort of expert email marketer. I just don't do it enough personally to have firm opinions on which approach might be best. So my only advice is to try to make your frequency match the expectations people will have when they sign up.

Real Buyers I define simply as people who have bought something from me in the past. I tend to set a time limit on it too. For some markets they're only buyers if they've purchased something from me or based upon my recommendation in the last year. For others I take the time limit down to 6 or 8 months. And free info signups don't count in my real buyers totals, though those folks can of course get there.

My real buyers list is the one I protect the most. As a general rule they only get the best of the best, so the frequency of sales oriented email is usually less. And only after I've tested it on other less qualified lists if at all possible.

#9 emlmrktr

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 09:21 PM

That does seem strange that you can't add your own customers because you may have opt-in permission from another source. It may be their way of safeguarding against spammers, but it does seem a little drastic.

For my freelance work, I've been using vertical response, which isn't the most advanced email tool and I am able to add outside lists, so I would think that constant contact would at least allow the same options.

#10 Randy

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 10:18 PM

It's not really Constant Contacts call, truth be known emlmrktr.

The bulk mailing companies need to have a good working relationship with the major email providers out there. You know, like Yahoo, Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, etc. Those folks all pretty much require that you have a verified Opt In, usually a double opt in. If the bulk mailing company doesn't have this as a written in stone policy the chances are pretty high that they're going to start having all mail sent from them bounced by all of these major email providers. Which of course is not going to make their paying customers very happy.

#11 rogerbauer

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Posted 27 February 2010 - 08:27 PM

I've had issues with purchasing and importing a list that was sold as an opt-in list so there can sometimes be problems there, too.

Jill is right ... you can upload/import a list to just about any auto-responder service but if you get too many spam complaints (too many = very few) or violate their terms in any way, they'll just shut you down then ask questions later (if you're lucky).

Bottom line: if you're importing email addresses, be sure you can provide a valid date & time stamp for when the person opted in and the source of the opt-in (website, mail in, information request, RSS subscription, etc.) That'll save your tail more often than not.

Or you can always go with a bulk email provider like Expedite Media. Don't know what their deliverability rates are, but they'll let you import and email to your own list without putting you through the 10th degree.

#12 ttw

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 11:03 AM

QUOTE(jlady @ Oct 9 2009, 02:51 PM) View Post
I want to start a bulk emailing list and use a service like constant contact but it looks like you can't add email addresses and the only way to add email addresses is people have to subscribe to the list. Is this correct?

From what I see you can't send unsolicited emails to "anyone" not even your own customers? Is this also correct, so in essence I can't put my existing customers on the list?


I use Constant Contact regularly and you can add email addresses to the system. Log in, go to Contacts, select the list you want to add either a single email address or full import to and follow the instructions. If you only add a few email addresses you will not be prompted to verify that the email receipts opted in. If you import an entire list you will have to verify that this list is of opted-in people (you do that by checking 3 boxes to agree). We have added our clients' customers and never had a problem.

What you can't do with Constant Contact is to import email addresses like "info@", "contactus@" (emails that appear to be general company inboxes).

Rosemary

#13 hittjw

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 02:28 PM

Why not just ask them for permission? Make it a marketing campaign, send a postcard to all your customers, or include a statement stuffer inviting customers to join your e-mail list. Give them a really good reason to join, tell them what you'll be sending and why -- get them involved.

This will get the right email address of customers on your list, secure your double-opt-in, and give you some ideas of what you can send them. Might even discover many of your customers will appreciate this better than some random confirmation message, or suddenly getting emails from you. The law may give you ever right to e-mail existing customers, but why not ask them in a way that keeps them thinking about you.

Sincerely,

Justin




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