E-mail: Go Organic
• Be honest about what customers are being asked to do. Marketers should explain that they are building e-mail lists and what they will do with them. They should let customers know the benefit that is in the relationship for them when they are signing up. Marketers should give customers something in return for contact information, such as advance notice of offers or e-mail-only discounts, and customers will be more apt to sign up. Contests and sweepstakes may persuade customers to sign up in the short term but generally do not turn into sales in the long term.
• Once a marketer has an e-mail address, it should treat the relationship with the same care it did the initial collection of the address. The marketer should be mindful that permission is perishable. If it has been six months since the business has had any communication with a customer via e-mail, it should send an e-mail requesting customers to opt in again for contact.
E-mail appending does not have to be a negative term. Every marketer wants and needs to add on to its list. If marketers approach appending as a more organic and natural process, they'll find a more engaged customer who is more apt to respond.
Richard Turcott, chief marketing officer at Needham, Mass.-based customer feedback and e-mail marketing company RatePoint.com, can be reached at (888) 777-1636.