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How to Use Data Driven Marketing to Effectively Collect E-Mail

You will no doubt want to send e-mails as part of your traditional data driven direct-marketing campaigns. They are very effective as follow-up reminders to special offers that you may mail out, for example. An e-mail telling your customers that they only have three days left to take advantage of a discount not only serves as a reminder but creates a sense of urgency.

But e-mail is only effective if it gets read. You want to be careful about how often you use this channel. All it takes is a single mouse click, and a customer can block your e-mails and never see them again. It’s important to develop an explicit contact-management policy to avoid over communicating with your customers.

All e-mail addresses are not created equal. You want to focus on quality over quantity. This means you want to be sure your customer really wants to hear from you before including them in a marketing campaign.

Offering newsletters, product guides, or other informational material can be an effective way of collecting e-mail (or home) address information from your customers or prospects. When a customer makes the request, they are implicitly opting in to hearing from you. But this interest may only be related to the particular information you are offering.

You can improve the quality of your e-mail lists by taking this opt-in process one step further. You can require a second, more explicit, opt in from the requester. Typically this is done by sending an e-mail to confirm the request before sending out the requested information.

This double opt-in, as it’s called, has the additional advantage of confirming that the e-mail address is real and is being checked by the customer.

Over time, your database has accumulated e-mail addresses that have been collected in a wide variety of ways. The quality of those addresses also varies widely. Some may no longer be active. Some are opted in. Some are opted out. You will even find some that have done both. Still others never were given the opportunity.

A one-time mass-mailing version of the double opt-in approach can be used to clean up your e-mail address list. By clean up, this means dramatically paring down the list. In addition to ensuring compliance with CAN-SPAM, doing this occasionally confers a few other advantages:

  • It improves response rates.

  • It lets you purge e-mail addresses that are no longer active.

  • It keeps you out of trouble with your e-mail service provider.

E-mail service providers are extremely sensitive to being used as vehicles for spammers. They are the ones holding the smoking gun if the Federal Trade Commission should come calling about CAN-SPAM violations. If a large number of your customers are reporting your e-mails as spam, then you will eventually be dropped by your provider.

Speaking of e-mail service providers, choosing one is among the most important decisions you will make. You’ll rely heavily on your ESP — not just to execute e-mail campaigns, but to ensure CAN-SPAM compliance and e-mail address deliverability. The ESP will also provide reporting on which e-mails have been viewed and which customers have clicked links in them.

The best ESPs provide this information in real time on the web. A good ESP can also provide this data back to you at the customer level so that you can incorporate it into your database for analytic purposes. Because you rely so heavily on your ESP, you should get proposals, including client recommendations, from several providers and evaluate them carefully before making a decision.

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