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's not 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
stay current for long because people change their addresses by
switching from one service provider or e-mail service to
If your business has no
formal system of gathering and
addresses you're missing a tremendous opportunity.
However, when sending out messages, be sure you comply
with the anti-spam
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
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
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 supercedes several
state laws requiring unsolicited ads to carry the note
“ADV:” or "ADV: Adult Advertisement” in the subject
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
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
Centralize. Assign a specific
person in your office to procure e-mail addresses and
maintain the database.
Based on the number of current and potential customers,
establish the number of addresses your business would like
3. Solicit Ideas.
Send a memo to staff members seeking
ways to build the list. Have your e-mail manager get as many
customer addresses as possible from your employees. These
can be culled from their own e-mail programs, as well as
business cards and letterheads.
4. Expand the
search. Send a letter to customers,
prospects and referral sources explaining what your firm is
doing. Ask them to send their current e-mail addresses to
you. Include instructions on how to e-mail the information
or use a simple form they can fax or mail back. Be sure to
enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope. In all your
mailings, brochures, newsletters and other means of
communication, include a response card to request e-mail
addresses and any other pertinent information.
5. Fill in any
gaps. During slow periods, telephone
contacts whose addresses are still missing or out of date.
Follow a simple script and try to obtain many addresses from
one company at a time. Remember, there's no additional cost
for sending more e-mails. Get more traction by sending to as
many people as possible.
6. Turn to the
pros. Consider hiring an outside
telemarketing company to gather addresses. However, one
drawback to these services is they often have a minimum
order of 5,000 names.
7. Surf the
net. Research Web sites to obtain
addresses — especially from referral sources. Consider
purchasing extraction software that automatically searches
Web site pages for e-mail addresses.
procedures. Require staff members to
routinely obtain e-mail addresses from prospects and new
9. Add links to
your site. If your company
operates a Web site, include a collection system for
gathering e-mail addresses and sending newsletters and
10. Head off
trouble. Consider a piece of
software that checks addresses before you send mass
mailings. This is important since you don't want your ISP
thinking you're sending spam if a lot of e-mails start
bouncing. And when gathering addresses, keep in mind that
e-mail going to free services (such as Yahoo and Hotmail) is
often caught in spam filters and never reaches the
recipient. Whenever possible, it's better to get another
e-mail address from contacts.