Saturday, June 24, 2006

Basics Of Blogging Series - Part Eight: Using Email As An Advertising Tool

Email - we take it for granted. We use it almost every day. We use it for business, pleasure, fun and work. We use it and abuse it. We say things that are taken the wrong way. We express hate and love, likes and dislikes in our email. We fall in love, fall out of love, send virtual flowers, send postcards, send presents, send protests, send hate mail. We do business and sign contracts on it. We transfer funds with it. We type with it, hate it and love it. We often cannot live without it.

Email is so ingrained in our daily lives, we no longer appreciate its power or possibilities. We use it as if it were an extension of ourselves and actually tend to reveal a lot more about our own minds, hearts and souls then we would ever reveal if we had to sit and write out each and every email with pen and paper. Email is most definitely a powerful tool, if not the most powerful tool in the arsenal of spreading word and popularity about your blog or web-site.

On one other thing about Email. It is FREE. Totally and completely FREE. You don't even have to an email account with your web account provider. All you need is a few Yahoo or Gmail accounts.

However, there is a BIG caveat here. If you are anything like me, you have come to hate "spam" mail. Garbage mail. Junk mail. Spam email. All of it is crap. All of it steals precious time and clogs up your system. (See my Techie Alert - "Spam, Junk Mail and All That Wonderful Stuff - BLAH to Spam" - which I am going to follow up on, about spam email and how sophisticated it is getting.) We hate spam. We ignore it. We sift through it to get to our "real" email. And here is the rule of thumb. Email that we want - WE READ.

How do you put email to use for you and your blog and web site?

Well first some things you do NOT do.

  1. You do not purchase lists off the Internet that are non-targeted lists (even if they are opt-in lists). What is non-targeted? Non-targeted means that you will be sending out millions of emails to people whose inbox and spam box are totally full and crowded with junk as it is. Your email will be between some idiot that is sending out emails promising larger breasts and another offering males a great time in bed with a new and great product combining viagra, cialis and some homespun remedy for a longer penis. Trust me. You do NOT WANT your email stuck there.

  2. You do not purchase lists off of some fly-by-night company on the Internet, even if they do promise 2.5 million email addresses for $29.99.

  3. You do not "farm" email addresses off of Internet sites using a program dedicated to this practice.

  4. You do not offer to purchase or borrow your best friend's or lovers email address list (in most cases not in all!).

What you can do:

  1. You create a guest book on your blog or an email opt-in list. You save each and every one of those emails as if they were GOLD. For these things all you need to do is Google for them. Bravenet is one of the largest, most respected and offers an incredible amount of FREE utilities for this purpose. You do not need to be a techie to use this stuff.

  2. You ask everyone you know (including the grocer and butcher) to get on your list! (NO! I will not get up enough courage to ask that beautiful woman next door for her email address. I can't even get enough gumption to say "Hello" to her. sheesh...)

  3. You consistently and constantly put out emails to your membership but you do not badger them. Once a week is really enough, unless you have this incredibly special announcement to make or deal to offer.

  4. On your web-site you allow people to decide how often they want an email from you. Blogs do not have this capability and it would be incredibly difficult to build it in without using a third party extension. (Again companies like Bravenet are the answer here.)

  5. Your email is professional, straightforward, and if possible offered in both HTML and plain text.

  6. Your email address - the email address where your membership email is coming from - is memorable, even if you are using gmail. I have for instance my own domain email for my stuff, and I use a gmail address here on Cobwebs Of The Mind. You can find a link to it on the right on the blog and click to email me. That address is simply cobwebsofthemind which associates in the persons mind with my blog. It is also good advertising and a way for someone to remember your blog even if they forget the url.  Which is unique enough for here. On my web sites, for instance at Jewish Amor, it is all Then when the recipient wades through tons of email they know immediately your email is something they want and they will read it. So for the Hair blog their address would be something with the word "hair" in it or better yet "silkybeautifulyounghair"!

Why is Email so important?

It is an excellent question, despite the fact that some techies may snicker at such a simple question. The answer is easy, yet can get incredibly complicated. The great thing about email that a person wants is that it gets at least skimmed. It keeps you in touch and lets the person that signed up know that the web-site is active and doing things. The other "more important part" of email is that little "forward" option. If Sally seems something that she may think Jane and Bill want, she is going to forward the email with a couple of clicks. Viral. It gets spread. People get to know about it. NEWS SPREADS. And with email it can spread like wildfire! Do not ever underestimate this. You may send out 100 emails from your site, and on the 101'st for no specific reason you can discern suddenly the hits go up. Suddenly the "word" is spreading. Never give up on the email option.

Don't overuse it either. Don't badger. Don't spam. Don't do your best friend a favor by sending out emails to your list for them. (I would, of course, send out a 100 emails to my list for a date with the lady next door!) Seriously, your email list is your gold. Your ace in the hole. Don't abuse it!

Okay lets now discuss Email and some "real" examples:

When someone arrives at a blog, unlike a web site, there is no need to "register" or "sign  in". Thus it is much harder to get an individual to "sign-up" for a feed from your blog or to be on your email list. You have less than 7 seconds (that is not a mistake, 7 seconds) to interest the person, which includes loading of your page. So use it well. Remember,  OFFER WHAT THEY WANT - NOT WHAT YOU WANT.  If you cannot do that thane perhaps numbers is not what you need. Just the pleasure of having your own blog.

Send out a thank you IMMEDIATELY. You can use an auto-responder, or lacking that, have a template in your email draft box, and once a day check for new sign-ups and send out a thank you SEPARATELY to each one. No CC's or BCC's. Bad, BAD idea.

If you have a web site that requires registration, make sure you send out a thank you automatically. Make sure you explain again what the site is about with your URL at least twice in the page. Make it nice. Make it simple. Make it good. Market yourself and your web site and your product.

When you send out emails to your entire list you have many options. You can make them yourself, or go to a place like Vertical Response which takes all the hard work from you. Vertical Response is good, but not free. There are others in the market, reputable good sites who can help you along. But if you serious about marketing bear this in mind if you email list grows too large or unwieldy.

Whenever I send out an email from any one of my web sites the hits on that web site go up immediately and for the next 24 hours. By the way, it is important to understand, that your email will have a shelf-life of 24 hours on a good day. This means that if the member does not respond, visit, or otherwise act on the email within 24 hours, it probably just won't happen. Don't sweat it though. There is always the next email, and the next and the next...

One of the best and free ways to make your blog work for you is to use feedblitz. This takes care of subscribers and RSS feeds. It works for the most part and is good. Use it on your blog.

In summary, Email is a tool that should be used to the maximum but not abused or overused. Used and manipulated correctly it can increase your members and keep those who did sign up coming back. Loyal membership is your key to Viral marketing.

Previous Articles In This Series:

  1. The Basics of Blogging and Web Site Creation - Part One: Content Is King

  2. The Basics of Blogging and Web Site Creation - Part Two: Introduction To Keywords

  3. Part Three - Keywords, Tags, Categories - Oh Vey! I Am So Mixed Up!

  4. Blogging & Website Basics - Part Four: So How The Hell Do I Get Bonafide Links To My Blog?

  5. Blogging - Part Five: Trying to Understand the Psychology Behind It All

  6. Blogging - Part Six: Viral Technology - An Introduction

  7. Blogging - Part Seven: Article Submission As A Tool To Extend Your Reach

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Categories: technology, internet, Basics of Blogging Series
Basics Of Blogging Series - Part Eight: Using Email As An Advertising Tool

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