Marketing has changed tremendously over the years since the Internet was introduced to the public. Advertising using radio, TV, direct mail, yellow pages and magazines has sharply declined. In fact, as of March 2010, a Forrester Research study in North America shows that households in North American now spend as much time on the Internet as they do watching TV. And, Internet users at work spend nearly 4 times the amount of time online than they do at home (Neilsen). While traditional media is declining or stagnant, Internet usage is increasing. Statistics like this are turning marketers to Internet options more and more to promote products and services. Today, if you are not using some type of internet marketing, you are missing tremendous opportunities to get your message out.

eMail Marketing has become one of the top ways in which marketers are trying to reach potential customers (yes, social media tops the list…more on that below). The problem is that a lot of spammers out there are also trying to do the same thing. Sometimes, receivers are confused by what they are reading or the information is not relevant to them. Marketers sometimes shy away from eMail campaigns because they do not want to take the chance that they are going to be labelled a ‘spammer’. However, if you understand your customers and the law, you will have a better chance of using eMail marketing to your advantage.

Carefully Identify Your Internet Marketing Target Audience

Throwing mud on the wall and hoping some sticks is not a good way to market via any media, but we see people doing this all the time. They do not take the time to understand their target audience and seek them out. Once you know your audience, you can talk to them at a level that is interesting and relevant to them. Do not buy a list, as most legitimate eMail marketing services will ban you once they find out you’ve used one. Lists are also often out of date. A low deliverability rate is a big tip-off to mailing houses that you are using a bought list.

Follow CAN-SPAM Requirements

There are a lot of interpretations of what you can and cannot send via eMail marketing. Some think that just because you do not have explicit permission to send someone an eMail, that you cannot. This is not necessarily true.* If you read the CAN-SPAM Act, you will see that sending commercial eMails is acceptable provided you follow the CAN-SPAM requirements. By doing this, you also establish yourself as a more legitimate business. And, the more careful you are in selecting your recipients, the less likely they are to label you as a spammer.

A quick overview of items to get you in CAN-SPAM compliance (you can find more details at the FTC web site):

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information in the message (whether hidden or visible)
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines. Be clear and straightforward.
  • Identify the message as an ad. Don’t try to make people think it is something else.
  • Tell recipients where you’re located.
  • Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
  • Honor opt-out requests promptly. Usually a couple of days is more than enough time (although law provides for up to 10 days). Most of the time this can be set up to be immediate.
  • Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.

Do keep in mind that even if you are in CAM-SPAM compliance, your mailing house may not like that you are receiving a lot of spam reports (after all, according to many sources, you are still technically spamming if you do not have explicit permission to email someone). These spam reports get counted up and if an ISP thinks you are spamming, they will ban your messages from getting through to your recipients. Of course, to be doubly sure that your recipients are interested in your information, you could use opt-in lists (or even double opt-in lists). These are lists where people have specifically asked you to send them your information.

Inbound Internet Marketing Relationships

Inevitably people ask me, well, how can I possibly have people opt-in if I cannot send them an email to tell them about what I have available? Kind of like chasing your tail isn’t it? This is one reason why social media has taken off. Businesses and individuals that want your specific information, will seek you out. If your information is helpful and relevant to your visitors, chances are very high that they will request additional information or want to start a relationship with you. Relationships on the Internet these days start with inbound marketing using social media, blogs, webinars, etc. If you haven’t started using these tools yet, you should plan to soon. A well-thought-out inbound marketing plan combined with good search engine optimization can go a long way to getting the eyeballs you want.

* The rules are different for mobile devices.