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The Misuse of E-Mail

By: Robert Middleton

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing in Palo Alto, Calif., has helped hundreds of professional service businesses attract new clients and get paid what they're worth.

His website is a resource for marketing professional services. Visit it at Action Plan Marketing.

Nowadays more and more people are using e-mail for marketing their businesses. Many are doing e-mail newsletter, announcements for seminars and other things to keep in touch with their customer base.

All of this is well and good -- if done well and if done properly. I'd like to point out some of the things you need to AVOID if your e-mail marketing efforts are to be successful.

1. Bogus E-Mail

Forwarding e-mail messages to your whole list about virus alerts, special contests with awards directly from Bill Gates, etc. Did you know that virtually ALL of these are total hoaxes and a complete waste of time? No, there is not a virus on an e-mail that will wipe out your hard drive. No, if you forward 10,000 copies of a certain e-mail will you get a free trip to Disneyland. I'm sorry, but these are some cruel joke of an egomaniac too much time on his hands. Please don't forward them. They hurt your credibility in the eyes of your clients and prospects.

2. Inspirational and Funny E-mail

This isn't as bad, but it's also tricky. It's not unusual that I'll get two or three of these a day. You know the ones I mean: A touching story, a series of jokes, a tear-jerking anecdote. Look, I don't mind if a friend forwards this with a personal note thinking I might enjoy it. But to forward them wholesale to your mailing list gets a little old after awhile.

3. Putting Everyone's name and E-mail Address in Your Header

In my opinion this is the #1 breach of e-mail etiquette. We've all gotten them - an e-mail message with everyone's name and e-mail at the top of the message. There is nothing stopping someone who receives your messages from copying all those names and then sending them unsolicited e-mail for god knows what. Virtually all e-mail programs have a way to hide all those names (often called blind carbon copying). Find out how to do that before you send out another message to your list.

4. Spam, Spam, Spam

I hope none of you do this. Don't even think of it. This is completely unsolicited and usually somewhat inappropriate e-mail solicitations to people who have never heard of you. I get 10 to 15 of these a day. They waste my time and your time. Please, please don't succumb to this temptation!!! Don't even add someone to your e-mail list without their permission.

5. Irregular E-mail Newsletters

If you are going to do a regular e-mail newsletter, make sure you make it regular! If you send out something on a haphazard basis it simply won't have the impact of a regular communication. All good marketing depends on visibility and repetition. If people don't need your services now they may need them later, but they won't remember you if you disappear for six months! This takes real commitment and discipline but it will more than pay for itself.

6. Poorly Conceived E-mail Messages

This one is rampant as well. If you are going to keep your list informed, make sure you have something to say. People will not continue to read your e-mail messages if you don't include practical ideas they can apply to their businesses. And little things like typos and grammar count. I've been guilty of this and now take a little extra time to proofread and run the Flash through my spell checker.

7. Failure to Promote or Over Promoting

This is a touchy one. It's easy to err on the side of not promoting at all and just as easy to over do it. My strategy has been to provide a valuable e-mail newsletter twice a month and then once or twice a month to mention a workshop or other program I'm doing. With the 6 month Marketing Mastery Program I'm holding in January I realize I need to be careful that I don't overdo it. On the other hand I get many messages that say, "I wanted to do your workshop but I missed your message." What I'm trying to do is to sometimes tie in announcements about programs with the regular Marketing Flash e-mail.

© Copyright 2000, Robert Middleton

Other Articles by Robert Middleton

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.

 

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