Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at

As any direct marketing pro knows, email can be an affordable and increasingly targetable communications tool. What's more, it can give you answers to important marketing questions super fast.

Media spending forecasts have been nothing but bullish on the continued rapid growth of online marketing, particularly search engine marketing (SEM). In case there is any lingering confusion as to what SEM is exactly, let's clear it up: SEM refers to all activities related to getting one's Web pages listed on search engines' paid and free (also called organic) search results listings. This issue contains a special report on SEM that will provide you with insights on the latest strategies being employed by forward-thinking companies. For example, recent research from DoubleClick reveals that in the early stages of their searching efforts, people

By Regina Brady There are plenty of articles about the "dos" of e-mail marketing. Here's a look at the flip side: The things you don't want to do in your e-mail campaign. 1. Don't load the copy, push "send" and move on We've all got a lot on our plates, and it's easy to be trigger-happy with the send button. Have you received e-mails with misspellings or odd formatting? It makes you think twice about the marketer. Take time to proof your e-mails before they go out. Run a spell-checker, and make sure the format looks the way you expected it to in

By Steve Trollinger Nine reasons your lists are not working. Arsenio Hall enjoyed waxing poetic about "things that make you go 'hmmm.'" Well, I recently found myself thinking about something that makes catalogers go 'hmmm': Why don't prospect lists work better? To really understand the answers you must understand the question. What does "work" mean? It means a list meets or exceeds the requirements for customer acquisition efforts or the established cost to acquire a customer. Today, a tight economy has taken its toll on 12-month buyer files, and prospects are swarmed with catalogs. Marketers now must be smarter and work harder to acquire

By Denny Hatch What follows may seem obvious, but don't dismiss these out of hand. The dot-com train wreck was caused precisely because hotshot smartypants broke the following rules, most likely because they didn't know them, or if they knew them, didn't believe them. These tips were offered by Karen Boyle, a contributor to the book "2,239 Tested Secrets for Direct Marketing Success." —D.H. 1. Offer material that you don't actually have on hand yet. Instead: Prepare your fulfillment material ahead of time. Don't advertise your products until you know you can deliver. Don't offer premiums or information pieces until

By Lois Geller Labor Day makes me think of the Muscular Dystrophy Telethon. As a child, I would watch solemn faced, call in my pledge and eagerly wait to hear my name on the local TV feed of the show. The operator taking the call would ask if I wanted my donation to be announced on the air and I always did. The excitement would escalate as the numbers grew on the tote board. Viewers knew what Jerry's final number was—the dollar amount he was trying to raise—and we hoped he would make his goal for that year. The real

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