Despite the fairly ubiquitous nature of
e-marketing, it remains a relatively new mode of communication
undergoing an evolution in the ways it is used and controlled. Even
now, Congress is revisiting the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 and
considering further limitations on broadcast e-mails.
The value of e-marketing is twofold: The messages are timely,
and the process is cost-effective. Just compare it with direct-mail
I can remember countless hours spent folding letters, stuffing
envelopes, applying labels and running thousands of mailings
through postage equipment. Today, that same message can be sent to
thousands of people electronically in just minutes; you can spend
your valuable time composing the message instead of processing
So how can you make sure your e-message gets transmitted to the
people you want to see it?
Spreading the Word
Unless you have a captive audience your membership, customers or
employees you might not be able to obtain an e-mail list that
includes everyone you want to target. Therefore, your starting
point necessarily will be the people whose e-mail addresses you
While that might be a short list, you can spread the news via
“viral marketing” encouraging recipients to spread the word to
others who will do the same, and so-on. How to accomplish this?
First, make sure the content of your message has value. A straight
sales pitch for your event, an affinity program or a product might
not be perceived as worthwhile.
Since your organization has some niche or value proposition at
its core, leverage that in your message. Include information about
an issue facing your audience, a list of resources or a “how-to”
that presents solutions to a broad-based problem in your
In sum: Provide value for the recipient, which will increase
the chances your message will be passed on to others. This will
happen via links you can create yourself, using the newest web
tools, or with the help of your company’s IT department.
The key is to set up the links so they either directly record
e-mail addresses of recipients or require information about the
recipients that can be captured and fed into your growing marketing
No matter what your message, you must give people the
choice of opting out of your mailings. This can be done simply by
providing them with the link to send an e-mail requesting that they
be taken off the list; you then have 10 days, per most anti-spam
laws, to remove them from the list. More advanced e-marketing
systems allow recipients to update their profiles directly or
remove themselves from your list online.
Some of the more popular companies specializing in
e-marketing are cVENT (www.cvent.com), GetActive (www.getactive.com)
and CardinalWare (www.cardinalware.com). These services maintain your
lists online; you use their e-mail servers to send the
These companies also have all the required click-through
monitoring technology, permission opt-in/opt-out tools and
“tell-a-friend” capabilities. In addition, they might support
building listservs off your e-marketing lists to offer more value
to your members or to another target audience.
Some new services provided by e-marketing firms allow you to
run your message through filters and analyzers to identify “spam”
words phrases or statements that might block your message. Using
these tools can greatly enhance the effectiveness of your
Bob Walters, based in Fort Worth, Texas, is founder of
Phoenix Solutions and developer of MeetingTrak