The State of Email Marketing and Best Practices

Towards the end of 2010, the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), TouchBasePro and Email Connection released the Bulk Email Deliverability Report South African 2011. The report is extremely important for all South African enterprises that make use of email marketing, which despite waning popularity is still remarkably effective. According to the report, up to 20% of the budget spent on email marketing is wasted, i.e. it doesn’t get through recipients.

Cordell Brewer, director of TouchBasePro attributes the wastage primarily to poor domain name reputation, which means that emails don’t make it past spam filters. An article on SA media and marketing news portal Bizcommunity cites statistics from Europe, Asia and the US, which show that 14 – 20% of email marketing messages don’t make it past spam filters, and Brewer believes that similar results could be found in the South African market.
Email marketing remains popular because it’s cheap and it’s effective. US statistics reveal that email marketing is the most effective form of direct marketing, delivering double or triple the ROI of other direct marketing methods. However, to be effective and achieve maximum ROI, emails first have to break through the barriers and reach consumers. As a result, there are a number of best practices which have been recommended for online marketers. The Bulk Email Deliverability Report outlines 10 of these best practices:

1) Improve data collection and check opt-in history: some spam detectors measure the quality of a sender’s reputation by the quality of its email programme. Ensure that you keep proof of opt-in, date of email acquisition and the date of each email campaign and monitor results and inconsistencies closely.
2) Manage expectations and relevance to reduce complaint rates: subscribers need to know exactly what they’re signing up for; if possible they should also be given the opportunity to decide how they want to receive information – html or plain text, daily, weekly or monthly. All relevant information should be clear and concise and above the fold on the registration page.
3) Unsubscribes and complaints: subscribers must be given the option to change their minds. Tastes and needs change and what was once considered vital news could become spam, before your emails get reported as such, rather provide subscribers with an easy method to opt-out of your emailing list. Unsubscribe links should be clearly visible. If you have a problem with being reported as spam, place the link at the top of the page where it is not likely to be missed.
4) Check inactive recipients for spam traps: these are fake or abandoned email addresses that are intended solely to catch spam, which is ignored. Some spam filters are able to detect spam traps in your email database and may decide to block you as a matter of course.
5) Monitor your sender reputation and blacklists: this is the most important factor affecting email acceptance. ISPs tend to use external companies to check sender reputation data and it’s a good idea to sign up to these companies so that you can also get an idea of how your email campaigns are perceived. Check regularly to see that you have not been blacklisted on any blacklist operators websites.
6) Use the infrastructure that works for you: this means you can either manage your email campaigns internally or outsource them. If you outsource, ensure you go with a reputable company, if you keep it internal make sure you have all the relevant checks and systems to stay on the right side of the spam filter.
7) Conduct pre-broadcast testing: this entails testing for delivery issues and format issues. It’s also important to monitor your inbox delivery rate.
8) Certification: certification schemes certify the integrity if email senders and can help campaigners get by spam filters. Note that certification does not guarantee that you’ll make it to the inbox; you still have to jump through hoops and maintain other best practices.
9) Manual whitelisting: this entails analysing delivery patterns and determining where problems consistently occur, then, quite simply, you have to create a contact list and work your way through it to have your company removed from the spam list.
10) Build up your reputation slowly: this requires time and patience and religious adherence to best practices.

How Dentists Can Profit From Direct Mail

Direct Mail is a powerful tool when used properly, but beware sloppy direct mail can do more harm than good. Dentists don’t use direct mail as effectively as they could in many cases. There are a few essential rules for successful direct mail. Below I have listed some action points to ensure your direct mail campaigns work effectively.

1) Set up a good database

There are some very cost effective pieces of software around these days which are easy to use for managing databases, many practices have complete client management systems, but do make sure you have a system where by you can update and target specific groups of people.

Not having a decent database is criminal in any business. This is the most cost effective and personal way of marketing to your clients and prospects.

Without it your business will also be worth a lot less if you ever want to sell.

2) Test and measure everything

This is the only way to determine whether your campaigns are successful and should be rolled out on a larger scale. You should start testing a new Direct Mail campaign with a small number. Depending on the size of your business this may be a few hundred or several thousand.

3) Mail your existing clients

These people are important, keep in contact with them. Use their names and make the letter feel personal maybe even mention the last treatment they had so they feel you know them.

4) Always include a letter with a brochure

Statistically a letter with a brochure has been shown to improve the response, but follow the sales letter principles below to ensure a good response.

5) Talk about your clients needs

The first thing people will read in your letter is the headline so don’t make this about you, make it about them and fulfilling their needs.

6) Benefits

Which brings us on to – Make sure that your mailings focus on the benefits that your clients will get from buying your product. You can include the features but tell them what they will get out of your service.

7) P.S and Coupons

Test P.S and coupons in your mailings both have been shown to give higher response rates, but remember don’t change other aspects of the mailing at the same time or it will skew your results

8) Don’t just mail once

If you get a good response from a mailing repeat it, people are likely to respond again.

9) The Value of a client

Look at the life time value of a client – If you target new clients and your average client spends £1,000 over their lifetime with you, a mailing costs you £500 and get’s you 2 new clients the average you’re likely to generate from those 2 clients is £2000 this is a 400% return on your investment, not bad!

10) Use mailings to build relationships

A mailing does not have to sell something directly it can be a Thank you letter or a Client Satisfaction Questionnaire but make sure it builds your credibility with your client.

ABCs of Working a Direct Sales Home Business

Are you looking into joining a Direct Sales Company? Are you already involved in a Direct Sales business? If so, it is important to know exactly what it takes to run a successful business from home.

I would like to tell you up front that it’s not easy. You will need to get organized and prioritize your home and business tasks. You will need to attend company trainings and consistently work on your business so that it will succeed.

This ABC Checklist will be a great reminder of what it takes to run a successful business from home.

Advertising – You need to advertise your home business to make it grow. Advertising can be done online or offline, but your advertising efforts will need to be consistent. Keep track of which ads bring you the results you seek and toss the ones that don’t work.

Bookkeeping – You need to keep records of all your expenses and income. If you are not great at bookkeeping, consider hiring a virtual assistant or bookkeeper for your home office.

Customer Service – Give your customers great service to keep them coming back for more and to generate word of mouth referrals.

Dedication – It takes a lot of hard work and patience to grow a successful home business. You will need to dedicate time every week to work your business.

Education – Take time to educate yourself about having a home based business. Purchase books or get on the web and read up on topics related to Direct Sales and Network Marketing.

Fundraising – If your company offers a fundraising program, make sure you advertise and promote it. Sales that you pull in from fundraising programs can really boost your income.

Goal Setting – I find that when I make a list of my weekly, monthly and quarterly business goals and break those goals down into manageable chunks, that it keeps me focused and driven to accomplish the things that need to be done.

Hostess Coaching – It’s your job to coach your party host so that he/she will succeed in earning all of the free products and half-price specials. A party host who is completely satisfied with their home party experience are more likely to rebook additional parties from you.

Inventory – You need to keep products on hand to show at your home parties and to your customers. Update your inventory every few weeks or months with new offerings.

Juggling Act – When you work from home, life can be a juggling act. You will need to set up a schedule for family time, household chores, errands and of course, work time.

Keep Working It – You will find that you will not get rich overnight, matter of fact, you most likely won’t get rich at all. However, you need to keep working your business to get it to grow and prosper.

Leadership – Look to your sponsors and managers for leadership in training and business knowledge. As you grow your own team, you will become a leader and will need to set a good example for your own team.

Marketing – Sit down and draft up a business marketing plan. It’s your responsibility to market your business and the product that you represent. Set your marketing plan into action immediately and revise it as you go along.

Networking – Set aside a few hours every week to network with other like-minded Direct Sales home business people. You can find online and offline networking groups that you can join.

Organization – Keep your business training materials, paperwork and record keeping organized. You want to be able to find things in a timely manner.

Party Bookings and Party Hosts – Home parties are the heart of every Direct Sales business. It is your job to promote the home party opportunity by encouraging customers to book parties.

Quality Products – When it comes to representing and promoting a company, you need to choose one that has high quality products. These days, customers want quality and unique products that are often times not found in a retail store setting.

Recruiting – It is important to grow your Direct Sales team by recruiting/sponsoring new team members into the company you represent. Spend time every week promoting the home business opportunity to everyone you meet.

Sales – The main focus of your business is on product sales. You will need to work hard and consistently promoting your business to new and established customers.

Team Management – You will need to spend a few hours every week managing and training your team. You can set up weekly or monthly team meetings to offer support, training, motivation and recognition.

Up-selling – When customers place an order with you, try to up-sell an additional product to them. This product should be less than $12.00 in cost and coincide or relate to the products that they are purchasing from you.

Visualization – Sit down and visualize where you want your business to be in 1 year, 2 years and 3 years from now. Once you do that, draft up an advertising and marketing business plan. Set that plan into motion immediately and start seeing the results.

Working Business Schedule – You will get more tasks accomplished if you sit down and come up with a business schedule of when you will be working on your business. Let family and friends know you will be unavailable during your working hours for personal things.

X Out – You need to go over your daily agenda and tasks list. X out every thing that you got accomplished. Keeping a daily to-do list will keep you on track and focused.

Your Success – What does success mean to you? Do you have the dedication and drive to overcome any obstacles that may come your way? Your success depends on your determination to make your business succeed.

Zest – You need to have a passion for what you are doing and enjoy doing it. Your attitude will affect whether or not you obtain your goals and objectives.