"Web Cents"

Effectively using e-mail for marketing Part 1 Effectively using e-mail for marketing Part 2
E-mail Addresses. Worth their weight in gold! Sample Marketing Plan Java, Java.

Craig Volding is President of WonderWebUSA, specializing in reasonably priced small business web site packages featuring web browser based editing (Remote Control). Back articles plus information on upcoming Internet marketing workshops can be found at www.WonderWebUSA.com

Part 1
Effectively using e-mail for marketing

E-mail communication and marketing is huge. In fact, e-mail might some day be ranked as one of the greatest inventions since the wheel, fire and (might 1 add) cinnamon rolls. Well--maybe not cinnamon rolls, but they're close to the top.

Yet despite its widespread use, e-mail is often greatly misused and abused. So let's take some time to learn how to market effectively with this wonderful technology.

Though it is commonly used, e-mail is often misunderstood by those trying to use it for legitimate purposes. Part of the confusion stems from the mystery of all things computer-related. Despite this, a huge part of any successful Internet marketing plan will involve proper e-mail communication; therefore it would be wise to become familiar with how it can work for you. These easy lessons will get you off to a good start.

Lesson 1: Effective use of your domain name.
Use your domain name as your e-mail address, and not just for your Web site. You can do this even if you don't yet have a Web site.

It is no secret that you must promote yourself at every opportunity, so why promote the Internet company that provides your Internet access or e-mail service? You probably never considered that you are advertising for them every time you give out the e-mail address they assigned you by printing it on your letterhead, business cards and other materials.
Ask yourself, what do the big companies do? For example, look how hard Nike works to keep their name in front of you. Do you think they would use an e-mail address like "JohnB132@Some-ISP.com"? I doubt it. They probably use something like "sales@Nike.com." Shouldn't you?

But how do you do this? Well, it's easy. Even if you know very little about e-mail and don't yet have a Web site, you can order your own domain name (for example, "www.BillsEleclricalSupply.com") and also use it as your e-mail address ("info@BillsElectricalSupply.com"). All you need is an inexpensive service called e-mail forwarding.

With this service, all e-mails addressed to "info@BillsElectricalSupply.com" are instantly forwarded to your personal e-mail account. Now when you give out your e-mail address you are also promoting your company. This is inexpensive and much more professional plus, customers will take notice. Many Internet companies offer this service.

Lesson 2: Picking a domain name.
When choosing a domain name, try to follow some simple guidelines. Make sure it's easy to spell, easy to remember, describes what you do, and is as short as possible. If possible, make the domain name match your business name.

You can also have more than one domain name, each working the same for your business. Choose the "www.YourChoice.com" name. Don't get the
"www.YourChoice.net" name just because someone else already has "www.YourChoice.com." By not choosing the "dot-com" name, you will only confuse your customers, as many will try this name first and may end up at a competitor's site instead of yours.

Also, when printing your domain name, capitalize the first letter in each word. It is much easier to read and it doesn't matter if they actually type it in that way; it will still work. Which is easier to
"www.billselectricalsupply.com" or "www.BillsElectricalSupply.com"?

Lesson 3: Set up your "From" and "Reply To" e-mail address correctly.
Make sure your e-mail sending program is set to show your new domain name e-mail address as your "from" and "reply to" address. Your chosen return e-mail address is then automatically used when you send e-mail.

When the e-mail program is installed with your Internet setup, it typically pre-sets the "from" and "reply to" e-mail address as the e-mail address assigned to you by your provider. It is easy to change, and the tech support folks at your ISP should gladly talk you through it.

As a precautionary note, there are a couple of major Internet providers that do not support this feature, so if you plan to use e-mail as a business communication and marketing tool, consider a provider that supports "Pop3" e-mail.

Simple yet well-planned e-mail marketing practices, combined with an easy-to-manage, consumer-friendly Web site will dramatically improve results and maximize your marketing dollar. Take a little time to do it right and watch your business grow.

These lessons will cost less than $100 to implement and can be completed in less than one hour.

Craig Voiding is president of WonderWebUSA, specializing in inexpensive small-business Web site packages featuring Web browser-based editing (Remote Control). For more information visit www.WonderWebUSA.com

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Part 2

Effectively using e-mail for marketing

Second of two parts.

We have been discussing the importance of using e-mail as part of your overall Internet marketing strategy. The great thing about e-mail marketing is that it is easy, inexpensive and well received by your customers if you follow a few simple guidelines. The reason your e-mail is so well received is that people enjoy getting messages from acquaintances and friends as opposed to junk e-mail from mass marketers. So let's continue with a few more lessons.

Lesson 4: Keep It Brief and Link.
E-mail is most effective when it is kept brief and to the point. Therefore, summarize your e-mail message and include a link to the appropriate page in your web site that contains the details.

For example, if you are promoting a product or service, first make a page in your web site that contains all the details. Then type that web page address into the body of your e-mail message. A sample might look like this. "Year end sale on chandeliers! For additional information, click the link

In addition, when you type in the web page address (URL), always start it on a new line so it doesn't wrap. Send it to yourself first, and then perhaps to a friend to make sure it works. Read it multiple times, as it is easy to make a typo or a mistake even worse than that.

Lesson 5: Don't Use Cc.
Soon after you began to use e-mail on a regular basis, you probably discovered the copying (Cc) feature. This allows you to write one e-mail message and send it using Cc to everyone in your address book.
Seems like a great plan, yet have you ever received an e-mail (maybe even a joke) that was addressed to dozens or maybe hundreds of people, including yourself? Did it make you feel special? Did you wonder if the person even knew that they were sending it to you?

Personal, one-to-one relationships are valuable, so DON'T use the Cc feature. Instead, use the blind copy feature (Bcc). Bcc works just like Cc, however only their name and e-mail address appear on the message. Bcc is much better than Cc, and if you are just beginning, this will get you off to a good start.

The best solution is to use a contact management software program to keep track of your business contacts. With most contact management packages, you can use e-mail merge so that each e-mail message is personally addressed to each customer.

Lesson 6: Don't Send Attachments.
Sending e-mail to all of your customers will not be very successful if your customers will not or cannot read your message.

Including an attachment of any kind is a bad strategy and here are a few reasons why. First, computer viruses are most frequently spread in e-mail attachments.

Many people (including me) will not even read e-mail containing an attachment, even if I know the sender. Unless I am actually expecting an attachment, it is not read, just deleted. Even with up to date virus protection software, the risk is just too high.

Second, attachments can take too much time to download. Your customers will get annoyed if they have to wait very long to see some flashy advertisement. Do not assume they have a high-speed connection. Most are still using dial up connections.

Leave the special effects and splashy colors for the web page you reference in the e-mail. Your customers will appreciate it and will therefore not resent being on your list.

Third, some e-mail programs cannot easily handle attachments. It does not matter how good your e-mail program is; it is your customer's e-mail program that determines whether your message is read. Keep it simple and use text only. It isn't as pretty, but it will be read.

Most importantly, make sure you are sending e-mail using the "text-only" format. Most e-mail programs are preset to send all e-mail as HTML instead of plain text.

Unfortunately, hackers have exploited this. The problem with the HTML format is that even your text-only messages often appear to the recipient to contain an attachment, and therefore seem suspicious and may get deleted.

Check the preference settings in your e-mail program to make sure all e-mail is being sent as text only, not HTML. Again, your ISP tech support should be happy to talk to you about changing that setting.

Simple, yet well planned e-mail marketing practices, combined with an easy to manage consumer-friendly web site, will dramatically improve results and maximize your marketing dollar.

Take a little time to do it right and watch your business grow. Your total cost to implement these lessons: zero. The total time it will take to implement these suggestions will be about 10 minutes.

Craig Volding is President of WonderWebUSA, specializing in inexpensive small business web site packages featuring web browser based editing (Remote Control). Back articles plus information on upcoming Internet marketing workshops can be found at www.WonderWebUSA.com

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Worth their weight in gold!
E-mail Address's. Worth their weight in gold!

Increase your business and lower your costs at the same time!

We have been discussing the importance of using e-mail as part of your overall Internet marketing strategy. The great thing about e-mail marketing is that it is easy, inexpensive, and well received by your customers if you follow a few simple guidelines. It doesn't matter what service or business you are in. The reason your e-mail messages can be so well received is that most of us enjoy hearing from people we actually know as opposed to all that junk e-mail from mass marketers. So let's continue with a few more thoughts.

Let's us assume that you have decided to start planning your e-mail marketing campaign. The first roadblock you are going to come up against is obtaining e-mail addresses. It is both harder and easier than you think. Let's first look at the basic guidelines for e-mail address collection.

"Warning Will Robinson"! Don't buy e-mail lists. Avoid using mass e-mail services. If you use those lists, you are now in the category of a junk mailer yourself and will be despised by those very people you would like to have as customers. Also, your site is likely to be shut down or attacked by the anti-SPAM police. In most cases, a website referenced in a SPAM style e-mail isn't there for long. Don't be lured into taking this approach.

A good guideline for using e-mail marketing is to make sure the e-mail addresses you use are volunteered. Also, make sure each person has the option of being removed from your list. And NEVER sell or distribute their information to others.

Next ask yourself, who's e-mail address do you want? Start with your current customer base. These are the people that already choose to do business with you. They are already sold on your services and would probably do business with you again. They would also be the most likely to refer and recommend you to others. Next focus obtaining e-mail addresses of the peer groups, friends and families of your customers. Finally you want to find a way to obtain the e-mail addresses of those who visit your web site. With these three groups in mind, look at a few tried and true approaches.

First, make sure there is always something in it for the person providing you their e-mail address. Do you US mail anything to your customers on a regular basis? If you don't, you should, but let's assume you do. Consider including in that mailer a small postcard, stamped and pre-addressed back to you, asking for their e-mail address. Make sure you list at least three reasons they will benefit. It could read like this. "May we have your e-mail address? 1. You will be notified of Internet only specials. 2. Receive updates on new services and products. 3. Receive service & maintenance reminders. 4. Save a tree. 5. Completely confidential! 6. Advanced notification of upcoming sales. 7. Automatic entry into next month's drawing,

Next, do customers regularly visit your place of business? Make sure there is an opportunity for your customers to fill out a quick card with their name and e-mail address while they are waiting to or in process of checking out. Again, make sure there are reasons that benefit them to provide you with this information. See above.

Finally your web site. Contest and/or sale notification forms are ideal. Your web site should have a simple form that visitors can fill out entering them in a drawing. Mention that they will also be notified of sales and special promotions. You decide what you can give away. It doesn't need to be expensive. It is best if it is something you sell or provide. Maybe a free oil change if you are an auto service business. You should have new drawings on a regular basis.

Finally, just ask. Every time you have a conversation, just ask them for their e-mail address. Always provide a reason that benefits them, and most will happily volunteer theirs. After all they like you and would enjoy hearing from you.

Simple yet well planned E-mail marketing practices combined with an easy to manage, consumer friendly web site will dramatically improve your marketing results and maximize your marketing dollar. Take a little time to do it right and watch your business grow. Total cost to implement these lessons, a few hundred dollars and a few hours of your time.

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Java, Java.
Sample Marketing Plan - Java, Java.

The Internet and today's inexpensive related products are a great equalizer, benefiting both the entrepreneur and the consumer. Unfortunately, figuring out these opportunities can be intimating, overwhelming, and few can afford to hire or find consultants to show them how. The surprise is that it can be very easy.

As I go about my day, I encounter businesses and organizations that I believe could benefit from simple Internet marketing strategies. I cannot help but create mental Internet marketing plans that I wish I could share. So rather than keep it to myself, or intrude on the proprietors, I will
regularly share them here before the thoughts fade away.

Today's example is one that many can relate to. It is a small retail business operating in Southern California. It is a sole proprietorship operating as a boutique style coffeehouse. Their Internet marketing objective: Encourage current customers to visit more frequently and attract new customers. The challenge: Marketing on a shoestring budget. Let's look at what they offer.

Current offerings to attract customers: High quality specialty coffee, coffee drinks, deserts and related merchandise. Comfortable seating areas ideal for socializing, entertainment, workshops and club meetings. Regularly scheduled live music performances, poetry night, classic movie night. Wireless Internet access.

The campaign plan: There are only three ingredients and two steps needed for their Internet marketing campaign.

Ingredient 1: A simple yet informative web site. The selection of a web site package is critical, but does not need to be expensive or complicated. The right web site should be easy to setup, update, and modify without special skills or reliance on expensive outside help. Their web site should feature the coffee shop's products & services, and specific location information. The web site needs to be kept current, listing all upcoming events, offer coupons and web specials, allow event RSVP's, as well as feature a drawing entry form. Once setup up, keeping the site current should take the business owner or an employee about an hour per week. Web site packages that offer web-browser based editing (Remote Control) are ideal.

Ingredient 2: Contact management software (CMS). This is a program where you keep all your customer information. Names, mailing address, purchasing preferences and most importantly, e-mail addresses. Unless the storeowners are very familiar with contact manager software, they should start with something easy. Microsoft Outlook is a great choice, very inexpensive, and
more than most will ever need. Whichever program they choose, it should be easy to use and capable of sending merged e-mail as well as conventional letters. You may find it worthwhile to hire a tutor for a couple of hours to show how to set up and use it. Soon it will take very little time to contact hundreds of customers on a regular basis.

Ingredient 3: An ongoing voluntary e-mail address collection strategy. This is critical. If you do not have your customer's e-mail addresses, you cannot e-mail them.

Let's launch their plan. Its simplicity and low cost are its strength.

Step 1. E-mail address collection. Place a drawing entry box near the check out counter offering a free pound of coffee or other giveaway each month to one or more lucky winners. On the drawing entry form, ask for name & e-mail address and specify that winners will be notified by e-mail. Enter them and their e-mail address in the CMS. As you continue to collect e-mail address from different sources, continue to add them to your CMS.

Step 2. Create a simple series of e-mail letters using your contact management program. The idea is to send a BRIEF weekly, text only e-mail letter, personally addressed to each customer (No Cc's or attachments). Make sure there is a benefit to the receiver in every email that is sent. . Most people enjoy receiving e-mail from those they know and like, and only hate the junk e-mail from unknown sources. The rare customer that objects, should quickly, and simply be removed them from future mailings. Topics should include:

E-mail letter 1. Upcoming events: Send an email every other week. Reference that event and that details can be found on the web site and include in the e-mail letter a direct link to the appropriate web page. Encourage them to forward the e-mail to their friends, as their interests are often similar.

E-mail letter 2. Drawing winners announcement: Once per month list all winners and e-mail to everyone. Also, mention the prize for the next drawing, which can be entered by visiting the web site or coffee shop. Again include in the e-mail a direct link to the web site entry form. This gives customers a reason to return to your site on a regular basis. Once on your web site, they will find other items of interest, encouraging them to visit the shop.

E-mail letter 3. E-mail the buyer specials offerings: This is available only to those on the e-mail list. Mention that they simply can print out the e-mail and bring it into store to get a discount or other special offer. Encourage your e-mail customers to forward the e-mail discount offer to their
friends so they can get the specials too. This is a great way to get new customers. Rotate the e-mail letters. Send them out the day before the slowest business day of the week. This will help encourage business

It will probably take 60 days from start to finish and less than $1,500.00 to implement this plan. Once in place it costs almost nothing to run. Then just watch the number of your customers, and their loyalty grow.

Craig Volding is President of WonderWebUSA, specializing in inexpensive, small business web site packages featuring web browser based editing (Remote Control). Information on upcoming Internet marketing workshops can be found at www.WonderWebUSA.com

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