While brazen email “spammers” have been rightfully relegated to the status of Web pariahs, a number of businesses have quietly discovered a powerful fact about the medium.
When leveraged artfully, an ethical email-marketing strategy can run circles around the most stunning of Web sites. Indeed, while the promise of the Web has understandably mesmerized the global marketplace during the late nineties, Internet research marketing firms already know that email is currently the Internet’s true “killer application.” Consider: more than 75% of the 41.5 million adults online use email, according to a Cyber Dialogue/Find SVP survey (www.cyberdialogue.com).
Over a hundred million people are expected to be using email by 2000, according to the Electronic Messaging Association (www.ema.org). Ninety five percent of all Internet users currently have an email address, according to Ann Handley, editor-in-chief of ClickZ Network (www.clickz. com), an ecommerce resource and analysis site. Over 2.5 trillion emails were sent in the US alone year, according to Handley.
Given the staggering implication of these email-use figures, it’s no wonder scores of Fortune 500 companies have integrated the email medium into the core of their online marketing strategy.
Specifically, these online marketers are using the medium for: Email Newsletters: Once the purview of the academics and netizens who pioneered the Net in the late eighties, email newsletters are now the darling of every business seeking to nurture customer relationships.
Companies marketing newsletter software packages include Groupmaster by MessageMedia (www.messagemedia.com); Listserv Classic, from L-Soft International (www.lsoft.com); Liststar, from Starnine (www.starnine.com); and Lyris, from Shelby Group Ltd. (www.lyris.com). Email Newsletters with Hotlinks: A kind of “next generation” email publication, newsletMIXED MEDIA DECEMBER 1999 40 n W Email Marketing Grows Up: A Primer for the New Millennium JOE DYSART ters with “hotlinks” enable subscribers to “click back” for more information on specials and new-product announcements, essentially transforming a newsletter into a mobile company Web page.
Email Alert Services: After signing up for these services at company Web sites, subscribers receive email alerts when the company generates news of special interest. Realtors regularly send email alerts to home hunters, for example, when properties matching homehunter specifications first go on the market.
Interactive Email Newsletters: Corporations looking to generate an ongoing dialogue often sponsor interactive email newsletters to which every subscriber can add content. Such newsletters are perfect for developing new product ideas, new brand images and the like. All titles from the newsletter vendors above offer a subscriber interactivity option.
Participation in Third Party Email Newsletters: Mailing list clearinghouse Liszt (www.liszt.com) currently tracks more than 90,000 special interest “mailing lists” or newsletters currently circulating the Net.
Many corporations regularly add content to these newsletters to keep their brand names in front of readers with highly specific interests. Once you’ve experimented with email-marketing basics, you may want to move on to even more sophisticated uses of the medium. Most popular techniques among these include: Email Autoresponders: Already popular with firms savvy in email marketing, autoresponders enable Net surfers to send a simple email to a pre-designated email address and receive an “instant” email bank on a subject area of highly specialized interest — essentially target marketing in its most precise implementation.
Type “autoresponders” in any search engine for more info. Product Pix-To-Go: Now that sending pictures over the Net is a snap even on “beginner” services like America Online, it’s no wonder companies are capitalizing on this facet of the technology to better represent their services and products via email. All that’s needed to send product pix is any popular email program.
Slideshows-To-Go: Take another look at the latest incarnation of programs like Microsoft Powerpoint (www.microsoft.com) and Corel WordPerfect Office 2000 (www.corel.com) and you’ll find beefed-up applications that enable a company to easily create and send a slideshow via the Net. Another extremely easyto-use program: Catch-The-Web by Math Strategies (www.catchtheweb.com). Animations To Go: Firms interested in sending product animations via email also have a slew of tools they can use. Software titles in this category, in addition to those listed in the slideshow category above, include Hijaak Pro by IMSI software (www.imsisoft. com); PrintShop ProPublisher 2000 by Broderbund (www.printshop.com) and Barking Cards by Blaze Technologies (www. barkingcard.com).
Panoramic Virtual Reality To Go: One of the most sophisticated graphic presentations that can be easily sent via email, panoramic VR enables firms to create 360-degree virtual “walkthroughs” of products and facilities. Apple Quicktime VR (www.apple.com) pioneered the medium. Other panoramic VR toolmakers include Communique (www. cvcmedia.com), and Infinite Pictures (www. smoothmove.com).
One caveat: None of this email marketing technology will do a firm any good if the resulting presentation is sent as “spam,” or unsolicited email. Virtually anyone who has been on the Net more than 24 hours knows that spammers are the scourge of the Net, and that spamming is the quickest path to commercial suicide known today. Put simply: it’s not worth it.