Jumbo shrimp… military intelligence… internet marketing

Internet marketing is an oxymoron, like jumbo shrimp or military intelligence, a contradiction in terms.

Traditional marketing tells the whole audience how the product or service meets needs or brings subconscious desires to the surface.

Internet marketing is different. Through the magic of search engines, individuals track down what they have already decided they need. Or their friends make suggestions. Making that easy is what smart e-marketers do.

Unfortunately, many e-marketers simply apply old direct marketing tactics. Case in point: I love to read, but I’m a bit of a snob. Yet my online book seller continues to send me mass hype about the latest Danielle Steele or John Grisham novel.

I even joined its social media site, putting books I’ve read recently on my electronic shelf, hoping this would incite them to send me information on publications I might actually buy. But it turns out I need to devote time to finding other members with similar interests and seeing what they recommend.

It’s a promising idea, but I haven’t found the time. It’s easier for me to read the expert reviews in those old-fashioned newspapers, listen for recommendations from speakers, experts, colleagues and friends and search for specific titles.

There’s a great cartoon from Noise to Signal with a dog on a computer telling the other dog: “On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog. But they can smell a marketer from a mile away.” So true.

Direct marketers who have shifted their old tactics from phone calls and junk mail to the internet are still annoying. Like the telemarketers who call at dinner-time, they are either ignored or threatened with late-night return calls.

I work with email newsletters. Many people in the business call this email marketing, but my experience is that the more sales-oriented they are, the less likely people are to read them.

Like blogs and other social media, the newsletters we produce are intended to build relationships and establish clients’ expert reputations. They are all about knowledge: sharing your expertise so people will think of you when they or their friends are in the market for your product or service.

No, they don’t usually produce immediate sales. But people do open, read and respond to them. Though I still haven’t figured out how to reach that smart dog.


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Email newsletter open rates: 2 ways to increase them

At Stickemail, we excel at open rates. We always beat the current business-to-business benchmark of 25 per cent. Sometimes we more than double it.

How do we do it?

  1. We provide valued information to a very targeted, well-maintained list of people.
  2. We make sure the preview pane, the first thing potential readers see, gives a good reason for opening.

Some e-mail marketers argue that open rates, which are declining, are not that significant. Sure, they don’t capture the Outlook people who read your newsletter without the images clicked on or the growing number using text-only hand-held devices.

What’s more, they can over-report opens, when people forward through their e-mail program or open your newsletter more than once. But let’s not quibble. These actions are even better than opens.

It’s also important to remember that open rates are only one of many measurements. Every newsletter publisher should be setting objectives and measuring the success of their newsletter by how well it serves them.

But opening the newsletter is the first step toward realizing their goals. And, imperfect though they may be, open rates remain the best way of determining what is working with your newsletters.