13 Things You NEED to Know About E-Mail & Web Marketing
Webmaster Bill Blinn suggested a Baker's Dozen set of thoughts about
E-Mail and Web Marketing.
I suggested Bill begin the thinking. He did. So, this collection is his,
with a number of additions and enhancements from me.
E-mail marketing and the World Wide Web as marketing tools are "new".
Meaning, they have come of age as marketing tools only since the mid-1990's.
And especially since the beginning of the 21st Century. So,
there aren't any real rules.
Well, that said, it's also not truly true. There ARE rules - we're making
them up as we go along. Me ... I've most often said the rules that apply
to reading apply to the web and E-mail. Magazines, newspapers,
newsletters, direct mail, brochures, sales literature ... anything where
reading is involved, those read rules apply to the "E"
marketplace. I think so. And will continue to do so until proven otherwise.
Why do I believe this? Because our bodies do not change because the medium
changes. Our eyes still take in light, process it, send a message, and
we act or react. It's physiology. It's not marketing. It is not psychology.
It is what happens when people read. And people read E-mail and they read
your web pages.
So, that being said, here are 13 Things You NEED to Know About E-Mail
& Web Marketing;
Idea #1. Customers matter most
In fact, it is ONLY customers that do matter. Well, those who
are your customers and those who you'd like to make your customers. Both.
Which says you need to aim your message at people who can buy
what you sell. Meaning you "build your list". And you "ask
first". You do not harvest addresses from sources without asking
first. You do not send E-mail as you might direct mail - to the best prospects.
In the 'E' arena you carefully select, you ask, you receive a positive
"yes", and then you market.
As customers do matter most. Always have. Always will. It IS about people.
Idea #2. Look like what you are
If you're a business, look like a business. If you're high-end, then
look and act high-end. Ferrari must look rich. So must the Ritz Carlton.
Opposite - if you're lower on the scale - present your message at a level
that reflects what you are. The Salvation Army must look poor. Motel 6
must look inexpensive.
Chevrolet is in the middle. So are Best Western Motels. And Lands End.
When you sell things for a buck, look like the dollar store. When you
selling for millions - look like millions.
Plus ... no matter your level or status ... always make certain your
message is readable. Pink on blue won't cut it. A 7 point typeface is
too small for every eye.
Idea #3. Your system isn't mine
Although you have found your way of doing things is best for
you, know it is not best for everyone.
You just can't "assume" everybody does business the way you
do business. And that your E-mail program is the same as your prospects
and customers. Frequently it is not.
There are some ugly inconsistences between AOL and the rest of the world
... between Outlook and other E-mail programs. Sometimes between PCs and
The more generic your file format, the more likely it will be everyone
can read it. Which, of course, is the whole idea!
Idea #4. Be friendly
Before you unleash your website on the world, get opinions from others.
From several others. From those most likely to agree with you - from others
less likely. As your audience will not always be just like you.
The web is a read medium. Yes, today graphics have a big place - yet,
without the words the web is nothing. So, to begin, does it open quickly?
What about navigation - are the options you offer clear? Is it easy to
And then, does your message say anything to this audience. Is it meaningful?
Is your reason for being clear? Do you have an offer?
And, as with every marketing tool - you just gotta be nice.
Idea #5. Know your audience
Know your audience. If you're designing a website that targets graphic
professionals, you can reasonably assume a large, high-res screen, a fast
connection, and a full color display.
If your target audience is rural families (like mine, I live in an agricultural
area), you must assume a lower connection speed, a smaller screen, and
possibly fewer colors.
After your website is up check the statistics. So you'll know when the
capabilities of your target market changes. As it will. For example, I'm
typing this page from a hotel in a mid-size southern city. The dial-up
connection, through the switchboard, is 49,000+ ... not bad. Last night
in another location it was in the 20's. Tomorrow, who knows. Not that
this matters tremendously, yet, know your marketplace and technology do
Idea #6. Your customers don't need your technology
Flash is wonderful. Today.
Still, don't force people to sit through a long animation every time
they come to your site. Give visitors a way to jump it. Or suggest, on
their return visit, they link to a secondary index page to avoid animation.
This concept applies to everything you do in the 'E' world. Your E-mail
marketing and E-zines need to be available in html (with graphics) and
text only. Yes, there comes a time when you may elect to go only one way,
or the other. That usually happens after being out there a while and learning
what works best for your audience.
Idea #7. Understand all technology ain't the same
Know that Netscape, IE, Macs, Windows PCs, or Linux browsers have similar
characteristics ... still, they are not the same. Just as a Chevy, Ford
and Dodge are similar, yet, not the same.
There's a difference between the gamma on screens attached to PCs, Macs,
and Sun workstations. A picture that's optimized for a PC will look too
light on a Mac. A picture that's optimized for a Mac (or for a Sun workstation)
will look too dark on a PC. Some techniques that work on Netscape 4 won't
work on Netscape 6 or any version of IE.
Some techniques that work on IE will work nowhere else. Anything fancy
will be lost on early versions of browsers. Oh ... and if there are visually
impaired or blind people in your audience (or anyone who uses the Lynx
browser) your pictures will not be seen. This problem does not have a
Idea #8. Links only work when they make sense
Avoid "deep linking" to another website if you don't have permission.
A deep link is any link to a page other than the website's main page.
Many website owners will grant permission. Failure to ask could subject
you to a lawsuit for copyright violation. And, at a minimum, make someone
mad at you.
This is not a problem when you ask ahead of time. Which you should do
anyway. Why? Because most links work best when the street runs both directions.
Frequently I get asked to link to a site that has absolutely nothing to
do with what I do and offer. Rarely do I agree to such an exchange.
So, look, think, listen. This philosophy applies to E and Web marketing,
Idea #9. "Steal" ideas, not content
Stealing a layout, a design, a section from another web site is the same
as stealing their print campaign, broadcast commercial or using their
identification for yours.
It's easy to do, and it's unethical. There's nothing wrong with looking
at another site, deciding you like the webmaster's approach, and emulating
Learn from others, and then make "switch" the design you like
to make it yours. Change it to become unique and different. Yours, and
no others. Don't become a rip off artist. Do learn from others.
Idea #10. Know what is "enough" ... and what is not enough
The customer needs to hear from you more than once. Advertising
has taught marketing repetition builds your repetition.
This is what I call the Coca Cola Principle; you will not go a day in
your life without hearing or seeing something from Coke. They are everywhere
all the time.
Okay, none of us are the company from Atlanta. We can't do what they
do. Still, we can learn from them ... and repeat-repeat-repeat our message.
The question is "how much is enough ... and how much is too much?"
The answer to that question is "I don't know ... and it depends".
My E-zine is a weekly. Only one person has told me that is too often.
My web site has something change within it once a week. Yet, I
have clients who 'touch' their prospects and customers once a month. Others
once a quarter.
Find out what works for your audience - and do it. There is no right
or wrong answer ... the answer is what works best for you.
Idea #11. And then offer both opt-in as well as opt-out options
E marketing is different than anything else you have done. Never
before was it necessary to ask permission to toss a message to the marketplace.
It IS necessary when you're marketing on the web and with E-mail.
You (and I) can disagree with this "rule". Even the principle
of the rule. Yet, that IS the way it is - so live with it.
The process can be frustrating, take time and cost money. Still,
when you offer the option to 'opt-in' your list is better. As those who
agree to receive E messages from you are most likely your best prospects
and better customers. This is good. Those that don't want to hear from
you, well, you probably don't want to talk to them anyway.
And then, every time you're out the door, you must include (even if in
small type!) a way to 'opt-out'. When you do that - make it simple. A
couple of 'clicks' at most - and be done with it.
Idea #12. Don't trick
President Nixon was called "tricky Dick" - not because
he lied or got caught. Instead because he said one thing and did another.
Don't do that online ... with your E-mail or within your web site.
Meaning - make certain every "click" takes your reader to the
expected page. Not an advertisement, or other "false" page.
I'm a big reader. By choice I've signed up for many E-zines. Some
daily, some weekly, some less often. Every day my E-mail in-box is full
of things I want to at least look at. And maybe read.
When I cut and paste or 'click' to move from the tease and introduction
to the full story I don't want to wade through pop-ups and unders, and
other advertisements, to read the article. I want the article. And nothing
Sidebars with options is fine. Including your navigation bar ... and
pure ads. Because then I have an option to 'click' for more, or not.
Do not trick your audience ... or soon you won't have an audience.
Idea #13. Offer response options
This "rule" is equally applicable to all marketing,
advertising, sales promotion and merchandising; offer several response
This is not an option. You just gotta do it ... give your marketplace
multiple ways to get back to you. To learn more. To buy what you're selling!
And ... this is a GOOD thing to do! You may prefer all response
to your message be via E-mail. Or toll-free number. Yet, it doesn't matter
what you want - it matters only that your prospects and customers have
Give your audience several choices on how to spend their money with you.
Okay, that's it; 13 Things You NEED to Know About E-Mail &
Web Marketing. You may have a different list of 13 points.
Even if you have only one thought you feel I missed, share it. Since E-marketing
is still very much a learning game, I'd be happy to hear from and learn
from you. Send me an E-mail @ Ray@RayJutkins.com - I promise to
get back to you.