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The Internet is one of the best devices your company has to target new customers and keep your existing clientele happy. But before you begin reaping the benefits of e-marketing, you must collect and manage a database of e-mail addresses.
This might seem easy at first glance, but the task can be overwhelming if it isn’t handled correctly.
You start by collecting the e-mail addresses of every customer, prospective buyer, referral source and anyone else you want to be able to contact electronically. As you start entering the data, however, you’ll discover the list doesn’t stay current for long because people change their addresses by switching from one service provider or e-mail service to another.
But you can’t afford not to keep your lists up to date. The success of e-marketing and sales promotions depends on your database of addresses.
Here are ten pointers to help you build a solid list of e-mail contacts:
If your business has no formal system of gathering and maintaining e-mail addresses you’re missing a tremendous opportunity. However, when sending out messages be sure you comply with the anti-spam law.
The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography Act (or “Can-Spam”) bans some junk e-mail and imposes heavy fines on violators. Here are a few of the major provisions of the Can-Spam Act.
Legal spam. Businesses can send messages to customers, as long as they clearly identify themselves, provide a valid reply address and respect a consumer’s wish not to get e-mails. CAN-SPAM also prohibits hiring someone else to send e-mails or reselling an opted-out address.
Opt-Out. A business must allow individuals to unsubscribe from a specific e-mail list. In other words, e-mail recipients must manually opt-out of every message they receive and don’t want to get in the future.
Labeling. Under the law, a commercial e-mail must be labeled as an advertisement but e-mailers aren’t required to follow any specific labeling procedures. This provision supersedes several state laws requiring unsolicited ads to carry the note “ADV:” or “ADV: Adult Advertisement” in the subject line.
The key is restraint: It makes good business sense to limit bulk, unwanted e-mail ads. Consumers who aren’t bogged down with spam are more likely to respond favorably when they do get a useful message.