Get Your Message Into the Inner Circle
In the early days of online marketing, e-mail was a fresh and different way to reach people and, for a brief period, click-through rates frequently hit double digits.
Then people’s e-mail boxes became flooded with marketing messages—some legitimate, some outright spam. E-mail response rates fell from the stratosphere back to Earth, but the deluge continued. People installed spam filters. Corporations built firewalls. And e-mail response rates, once stellar, were now not much better than what postal direct mail could produce.
According to an article in The Marketing Report (Oct. 27, 2003), most people open and read permission-based e-mails from 16 sources or less. If your e-mail doesn’t come from one of those sources, your chances of getting a response are significantly reduced.
How do you become one of the trusted sources from whom the recipient will accept an e-mail message?
You might become part of that “inner circle” of senders if the recipient is already your customer. A survey from Quris shows that customers value and read two specific types of e-mails: transaction confirmations and account status updates.
Since these e-mails get read, you could add a promotional message or special offer—with a link to a landing page—to your transaction and account-related e-mails, measure the response and see if it works for you.
Another way to join the inner circle of preferred e-mail senders is to publish an e-zine the recipient has subscribed to and actively looks forward to receiving. There are, however, two problems with that strategy.
First, with literally thousands of free e-zines available on the Internet, chances are your recipients already get more than they can read. So it’s tough to interest them in yet another.
Second, producing a quality e-zine—whether monthly, weekly or daily—takes a good deal of time. If you want to reach a particular group of prospects on an occasional basis, the marketing ROI you get from such an e-zine may not justify the cost or effort.
One e-mail marketing method that promises to solve this problem and gain advertisers entry into the inner circle, is the sponsored e-mail alert.
A good example of a sponsored e-mail alert is CMP Media’s Business Technology Alert (BTA), delivered weekly to IT executives who subscribe to InformationWeek, Network magazine and other CMP trade publications. (In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that my firm manages this e-mail product.)
CMP has been publishing technology business magazines for more than 30 years and is well-respected by subscribers. Therefore, these busy readers include BTA, which they see as a value-added service, in the inner circle of online publications they read.
The advertising cost is priced similarly to space advertising. Its rate card offers an initial test of 50,000 names for $200 per thousand, with savings offered for greater frequency and quantity. For this fee, an advertiser can write customized content featuring its products and services for the week it sponsors BTA.
This new product is much different than what was previously offered by publishers. Sponsorship used to mean getting a few words of your copy at the top of a newsletter that was crammed full of other content and often, other advertiser’s messages. In this new product, you have the exclusive right to use the entire e-mail alert for your message only.
The benefit: No other content competes for the reader’s attention. And since you can use active Web links in your HTML, you can choreograph the exact sequence of words that will compel the recipient to read and respond by going to your Web site to fill out a response form, download a trial or contact a sales rep.
The sponsored e-mail alert offers a number of other advantages:
• Your message is perceived as useful information rather than marketing, because it is delivered in an e-mail alert format. Readers have all taken an affirmative action to opt in to it, so the potential for spam is eliminated.
• It appears as though your message is being endorsed by a third party—the publisher.
• Sponsored e-mail alerts are affordable. There’s no need to design a titlebar, create an online publication or build a subscriber list. All you pay is the sponsorship fee, which typically has a cost per thousand equal to or slightly less than renting an e-mail list reaching the same market.
As prospects are increasingly wary of what they allow into the inner circle of e-mails they open and read, a sponsored e-mail alert allows you into that vaunted space—without the commitment of publishing your own e-zine—and with the kind of credibility only a third-party endorsement can give you.
Stevan Roberts is CEO of Edith Roman Associates, ePost Direct and Database Direct. Roberts can be reached at (845) 731-2630.