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  • Introduction

    Ignoring all the spam email you have received and considering friendly email, ask yourself, "How important is email to me?" The fact is that email is used daily by millions and some probably could not live without it. It is more personal to receive an email rather than a web address, especially if it is from a friend. You feel as if you are talking to the individual personally. There is a connection made when you write an email to a friend, colleague and you generally can spend more time on email than you would on a website.

    The trick is learning how to harness the personal aspect and to grab the reader's attention. Generally, when we think of email from strangers, we don't always think well of it. But, I believe, this is a result of spam from those who could care less if they are personal or if they are bothering you. So, what we are going to be discussing here is how to write a personal email to an individual that has opted-in to receiving your email. Almost all bad email is the exact opposite: impersonal, unsolicited and generally offensive.

    Adapting Your Message To Email

    Consider the instanaeous nature of email. Often, people will check their email every few hours. Only big businesses take days to answer their email. So, it would make sense that you can harness the instantaneous nature by putting time limits within your messuage, such as "Act now" or "Only three days left!"

    Further email is a dynamic medium, always changing, just like website content. It is a dynamic medium and this is one of the main attractions of websites and emailing lists. If you think about it, the internet is the best at handling dynamic content instaneously and that is why it is the latest rage for dynamic content: news, entertainment, new products, sports, etc.

    Considering the instanaeous and dynamic nature of email, you will want to adapt your message accordingly. With such dynamic conent, you have little time in which to capture your readers attention. So, it is wise to be very specific when sending email. Do not be vague or beat around the bush. As, you only have a few seconds of their time, get to the main point quickly. Second, you will need to make it as easy as possible for them to respond. This would mean having something like a button or link to click to buy or get further information. You do not want to have a message that is plain text where the reader can not simply click to get to your website. Only those who are really interested would spend time copying the link and pasting it and even some of them would not do it, simply because of the lack of computer knowledge. It has to be as easy as pie to order and/or get more information. Third, you need to consider how many links deep the customer needs to click before getting to the buy it now screen. If they have to click on several links, you are simply shrinking your customer base to 1/10 the size for every link. Last, consider how the customer can benefit from your product and use that as one of the main selling points. Benefits, rather than features, are what attract customers.. An example of a benefit: "Find the right information fast!" An example of a feature: "Perform a search lightning fast!" In this example "information" can be anything the customer wants. For instance, maybe they want the right recipe, so it would read "Find the right recipe fast!" Now, that directly addresses their need rather than just saying "Perform a search lightning fast".

    Building Your Opt-In List

    To build an opt-in list online, you will need to offer something of value to the person giving their information. There are numerous ways to do this. For instance, you could offer a free newsletter with information that the receiver would be interested in. For instance, free tips on how to save money buying online or how to avoid bad car mechanics. From there you could advertise your product or service you are attempting to sell. Another way to build your list is to offer entry into a sweepstakes to win some prize. This way, you can email later regarding this sweepstakes and at the same time advertise to them your products/services. Last, you could build your opt-in list through news releases, telemarketing or media advertising. This would be a less direct and immediate way, but it can still build your opt-in list greatly.

    You might be asking yourself, "Is there other ways to get Opt-Ins?" Yes, you can also "rent" opt-in lists from other companies. But, I would only use this method as a "backup method" as you will have to pay for each time you use it and also, there is less of a loyalty factor, as the receivers do not know you. That is why I suggest spending your time building your opt-in list, as you are building more than static value everytime you add someone to your opt-in email list.

    One of the easiest ways to offer your free opt-in newsletter or information is through your website or affiliate website. It is easiest this way, seeing they can input their name and email address dynamically and simply click a button. Other methods do not offer such simplicity (such as by mail, telemarketing, etc).

    To even more guarantee opt-in growth, offer your free opt-in list in ways where your traffic can easily see it. Some marketers even have a window that pops up as soon as you come to their website asking you if you want to sign up for their free newsletter, free gift, free raffle, etc. Using colors, such as red contrasted with white to make it stand out or dynamic graphics will make it more visible. Last, you can sprinkle it throughout your website so it can be seen as they are navigating your pages. Just remember, be tastful and realistic in your ad copy. You do not want to appear full of hype. Yet, at the same time, you want to really hold their attention through effective ad copy.

    How To Avoid Spamming

    The term "Spam" in the internet world got its name from the infamous canned meat that you can find in your local supermarket. You might be asking yourself, "What in the world does Spam pork have to do with unsolicited email?" Good question. Historians believe the definition was inspired from an old Monty Python sketch, where a bunch of Vikings sit in a restaurant, which serves only spam and sing "Spam spam spam spam, lovely spam."

    In the beginning, the internet was similar to the Wild West, in that there were no rules and regulations. As you know from experience, habits are hard to break. Once internet marketers discovered the power of spam, it was hard to resist doing it, seeing their were no rules against it. The result was people filing complaints to no end. Of course, this lead to rules being made, but as I mentioned earlier, habits are hard to break, so many continue spamming. Recently, I read an interesting question on a news website, "Who receives the most email everyday?" Unsurprisingly, it was Bill Gates. Amazingly, he receives several hundred thousand emails a day and has a several staff member dedicated to solely handling his email account. I guess that is the price of being the CEO of Microsoft.

    The troubling aspect of spam is that the definition changes per person you ask. In general, though, the definition of spam is unsolicited email or "unasked for" email. This definition is probably the most limiting of all the definitions. Another general definition is unsolicited email sent more than one time. This definition gives more room for common situations like asking any person you don't know a question. To most, asking someone a question does not constitute spam. A final definition would be unsolicited email from a business. This one seems to cover a lot of ground, but what about those "persons" who occassionally email you to annoy you. After reading all of these definitions, it gives you a good framework of what is spam and what is not. Of course, there are a few "gray areas", but I believe the best way to deal with gray areas is to ask yourself if the person you are soliciting can cause you legal problems. Usually, only businesses or legal institutions can cause you legal problems, so there is little to worry about with your average joe.

    Building Confidence With Your Base

    With email, you are able to get more personal than you can with just a website, mass communication, force-communication, etc. Only personal communication is more ideal than email. But, with email you can emulate a lot of the personal feel that you can from talking one on one with someone.

    Being able to write a more personal message and connect with your reader is essential to having great success through email marketing. Amazingly, most business email I have received over the years seems to lack personality. So, once again, we are seeing that many out there simply are asleep at the wheel. Simply understanding a few fundamental principles will put you way ahead of the game, as most of your competitors will simply miss them. When I go to write a business email to people, I imagine as if I was just writing to one person alone. You might say to yourself, well how do you put in more personal information like their name, personal interests, other attributes about them, etc? Well, that is where technology comes into play. Today, there are programs out there that can send email to thousands of opt-in receivers, while including many personal attributes for each person. It is generally done by putting the data into a spreadsheet and importing it to the emailing program. There are many out there and a good place to find them would be ZDNET.

    You have to ask yourself, "What would I do if I got this email?" If you would delete it immediately, it might need some changing. The idea is to put yourself in your receiver's shoes. Ask yourself, how does this email benefit the receiver and what is it that makes it personal? The idea is to focus on helping the receiver first and then putting your interests second. As the Bible says, "Give and ye shall receive." If you do not put their interests first, how do you expect them to be interested?

    Subject Line Relevance

    Here is the most valuable tip when writing your email subject. Imagine all of the subject lines you have ever seen when going through your email. Remember, how you were able to just skim the subject line and know if it was worthless spam? Well, apply that great talent to your own subject line. Never write something that you would automatically skim and delete. You know, "Loose 30 pounds, no exercise!", "Borrow our money and never return it!", "Make millions in 5 days!", "Hi..:)" etc. All those lame subject lines you have read over the years has taught you how to spot spam in millisecond! What is the point of you sending them an email if they will delete it in a millisecond and be angry at you for sending it?

    Here is the second most important thing to consider when making your email subject. Make several versions of your subject and test them all through controlled testing. What I mean by controlled testing is to do it as if it were a laboratory experiment. After doing several tests with each email subject, track how many click through and make a purchase. If one email suject seems to stand out from the others, keep that one as the optimized version. Another thing to remember when testing is to NOT change anything else while testing the subjects. For the only way to confirm one subject is better than the others is to keep other variables as constant as posisble.

    Here are a few more tricks of the trade for having a successful campaign. Consider using your personal name as the "From" rather than your business name. The reason is because people will often delete an email from a business they do not know, especially if they just see a sales pitch. So, if you put your personal name, it is almost a requirement for them to open it, as you might be a colleague, or someone they just forgot about. It has been said that putting the person's first name within the subject will increase click through, but I am not sure if that is the case today. The reason I say this is because many spammers out there employ this trick now and it is almost too commonplace. Further, how many times have you received an email from a friend with your name in the subject? I never do, so, I guess, I don't find it too personal. But, it should be noted that other Opt-In experts out there state that this technique improves click-through, based on test ran over 4 years ago. Another tip is to use as many action verbs as possible within the subject line. The theory is that action begets action. The action of your words more so empowers someone to click through to your email. Another tip is to ask yourself, which is more powerful: telling the receiver to do something, or asking the receiver to do something? Generally, there is more action in telling the person to do something, rather than just asking them. On the other hand, there are certain types of questions, which lead to your premeditated conclusions that the person might be unaware of. For instance, "Do you want to spend more time with your family?" Generally, the obvious conclusion is "Yes" and at this point you have captured their attention enough to read on.

    Persuasion By Key Words and Sentence Structure

    Remember, when people are on the net or looking at email, their attention span is short. So, it is key to make it as easy as possible to read your message. A good way to do this is to shorten the sentences or separate sentences, so they are not all run together in a huge paragraph, as it is easier to read short separated sentences than it is to read a long paragraph. If this is hard for you to imagine, think of bullet points or an outline. Generally, in an outline or bullet points, you put single sentences as talking points under one main point. BUT, the idea is to make it more personal, so do not put it in actual outline format or bullet points, as that is impersonal.

    Here is an example of how to do it:

    So, you are interested in knowing how to find a great mechanic.

    Sick of those who seem to be more interested in your wallet?

    We will tell you all you need to know to fight off those "extra" services.

    Now, ask yourself, if the above is easier to read than this:

    So, you are interested in knowing how to find a great mechanic. Sick of those who seem to be more interested in your wallet? We will tell you all you need to know to fight off those "extra" services.

    Another tip is to not use words like "maybe", "shall", "mostly", "probably", etc. These words take away from a resolute statement. You do not want to sound like you are not sure, as this will make them unsure about your product/service.

    An assertive statement or command with an explanation point or red lettering will do wonders in getting someone's attention. So, the idea is that imperative is greater than a declarative statement; a verb is more action than a noun. In other words, sentence structure that leads to easy reading and action is exactly what you want.

    Frequency of Emailing

    One of the more obvious methods of gaging how frequently to send emails to ask yourself how dynamic is your content. If you can set up a newsletter where you can weekly generate new content for the email list, then you can do weekly emails. But, you have to make sure that you are not just trying to fill in the gap to make sure you send a weekly email, as your readers will notice. It has to be beneficial content to the reader.

    Another way to look at the frequency of mailing is by an eight stage rating system. The system is designed as a gage of how close the recipent is to you, business wise. Here are the stages:

  • First Level- Inquiry
  • Second Level-First Click Through
  • Third Level-Second Click Through
  • Fourth Level-First Purchase
  • Fifth Level-Second Purchase
  • Sixth Level-Multiple Purchases
  • Seventh Level-Regular Customer
  • Eighth Level-Promotes Your Business By Networking

    With each level, the customer is getting closer and closer to your business, until he reaches the last level of practically being your greatest customer or business partner. The idea is as you approach the Eighth Level, you are communicating more and more with the customer. Each level has its logical amount of correspondence. You do not want to overwhelm your customers with too much email, so think through each time you send out a mass emailing.

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