by Victoria Ring
As with anything in life, there's a right way and a wrong way to use the Internet for marketing. It's especially important to know the difference at the beginning. Otherwise, you may make some mistakes which may jeopardize your chances at ever using the Internet for your business. Literally, you can be banned from the Internet. It's happened before. Don't let it happen to you — promote your business the correct way, and you'll have a far better chance at finding success on the Internet.
Marketing Via E-Mail
Email is the easiest method of Internet marketing for the beginner to understand, as it is so similar to "traditional" marketing methods. You're sending the prospect a marketing message, but instead of sending it through the regular mail, you're emailing it directly to them. It's quicker, cheaper, and more efficient.
Where do you find people to email your marketing message to? From other Internet marketing techniques that will be discussed later in this report. There is, though, one particular technique you should avoid. In the "real world," it's easy to rent a mailing list of people with a specific interest in the type of product or service you're selling. You can then send your marketing materials to the people on this list, feeling relatively sure that they may be interested in what you have to offer.
It's hard to do this on the Internet, though, because of the sheer number of people accessing the Internet. There are companies, though, that will do mass emailings for a price. One particular company advertises that they will send your marketing message to 6,000,000 email addresses for under $200. This naturally sounds attractive to the marketer in us — how else could you contact so many people at such a low price?
But let's think about this a minute. Is this really a good deal? I don't think so! This is the same thing as sending your marketing message to everyone in the phone book. Probably 80% of the people will have no interest whatsoever in what you're selling. That doesn't mean that your product or service is no good. It just means the bulk of the people have no use for what you're selling.
Mass emailing is called spamming, and it is the number one offense you can commit on the Internet. Most people have to pay for their Internet access, and many of them pay by the hour (and, thus, by the minute). If you spend 33¢ to mail a first-class letter through the mail, if the person is not interested they simply throw your envelope away. But on the internet -- the recipient is paying for time on the internet. If they have to wait 20 minutes to download all their emails only to find that 95% of it is trying to sell them something -- you can bet that NOBODY will pay any attention to you.
In other words, most of the people you send your mass email to are paying to download it and read it, without having requested it and they get pretty mean about it. (Example: How would you feel if you had to pay the postage on every single piece of mail you received at your home? If the majority of it was junk mail, or mail you have no interest in -- it wouldn't take long before you would be mad and upset too.)
Now, most levelheaded people will see the first few lines of the email, recognize it as an unrequested marketing message, and delete it without thinking twice. There are people out there, though, that take it as a personal affront, an invasion of their privacy, and a waste of their money to receive your spammed email. They will respond vigorously with pranks and threats. In fact some of them get so revengeful that they will sign you up for every ezine on the planet, causing you to receive 1,000 or more emails every day! It would take a "looney-toon" to do something like this, but it does happen my dear.
And this is just the beginning of what will happen to you when you send email blasts to everybody on the planet. If you have put your phone number in your email, you could receive a ton of phone calls at all times of the night. If you have included your mailing address, you may find that your address has been passed on to military recruiters, religious organizations, pornographers, and all other kinds of people whom you may not want to receive mail from. At the very least, you should expect a flood of email full of complaints and vulgarities to your own email address.
I've even heard of people replying to spammed emails with hundreds of pages of the same four letter word repeated over and over, so the "spammer" can get a taste of their own medicine. It's up to you whether you want to market your business this way. I acknowledge that a marketing message going out to 6,000,000 people is bound to bring in some sales. However, you take the risk of receiving a lot of complaints and wasted time, as well as the possibility of losing your Internet access completely.
How could you lose your interet access? You could very well receive so many replied emails that your service provider's computer system will get jammed up, preventing other customers from being able to use the Internet. Your provider will politely ask you to go elsewhere for your Internet access, and your name will go on a list of spammers which is circulated amongst Internet providers. You may find yourself unable to get Internet access in the future. It's up to you.
Marketing Via Usenet Groups
Usenet newsgroups are individual special interest bulletin boards. You can post a question, an answer, information, whatever, to a newsgroup, and anyone else can read it. Likewise, you can read anyone else's postings. This is a heavily used area for information sharing. Used correctly, it can also be a successful marketing opportunity.
Before we go on, you should know that very few newsgroups accept blatant advertising. This is a very subtle technique that may take a few tries to perfect. The key is to frequent the newsgroups that have a connection to your products or services (if you're selling information that is helpful for small business owners, for example, then you should look for newsgroups that small business owners would read), and present pertinent useful information or answers to questions, and include a short marketing message in your "sig."
Your "sig" is your "signature" at the end of your posting. It can be compared to a "Resource Box" for a writer. This "sig" can be up to six lines long (though a four line maximum is more universally "acceptable"), and can contain information on how to contact you (email, phone, and otherwise), as well as some short information about your business. Readers who are interested in hearing more about what you have to offer can contact you. At that point, feel free to give them whatever marketing information you'd like since they requested it.
You will have the most success with this technique if you:
A good idea would be to request and read the FAQ (frequently asked question list) from every newsgroup you plan to post in. That way, you will know their exact policy on advertising, information that may be included in a "sig," the exact topics they cover, etc. This will prevent any postings that are against the rules.
- Stay "on-topic" in your postings — don't answer someone's question with a one-line answer, only to launch into a two-page sales letter, let your "sig" do the work.
- Don't overdo it — you should have the mindset that you are trying to help the readers of the newsgroup, and, afterwards, get the word out about your business, not the other way around.
How to Add a Signature Line in Netscape
If you are not adding a "sig" line to the bottom of every email message you send out -- you are losing valuable free advertising. Here's how to make one:
Marketing Via the World Wide Web
- In Windows 95 or 98, click on "Start," then "Programs," then "Accessories," then "Wordpad."
- Type in no more than 6 lines of text making sure your lines are short so they fit nicely across an email message. (About 40 characters.) Adding more than 6 lines will be overkill and make you appear as an unprofessional business.
- Be sure to include the link to your web site. So that it will link automatically, just type your URL (example: http://yahoo.com) Although when you type it in WordPad, it will not appear to be linked -- when it is sent through on an email, most people will be able to click on it and be taken automatically to your web site. To create a email link in WordPad for your "sig" file, you would type the HTML code like this example: <mailto:email@example.com> Be sure to include the caret "<" and ">." Without it the link will not work.
- Save the file on your ROOT directory (C:\). Name it something easy to remember like "mysig.txt" or your company name. HINT: The name cannot be longer than 8 characters since you are actually creating a DOS document. Make sure you end the file with the extension ".txt" as in the example above.
- After saving the file, go into Netscape. Click on "Communicator," then "Messenger Mailbox," then "Edit," then "Preferences." Go to the file folder "Mail and Groups," and click on "Identity."
- In the box marked "Signature File," type in the name of the file you just made. (Example: c:\mysig.txt.)
- Now, every time you send an email, the information you typed in your "sig" file will appear there. You never have to touch it again and you have extra free advertising without any maintenance.
The World Wide Web offers the most flexible solution for marketing on the Internet. You are free to put up whatever information you'd like, in whatever quantity you'd like. After all, you're the one paying for the space. Plus, you can put links on your pages so people can instantly send an email to you for more information; you can have forms for them to fill out so you can collect data and information; or you can even take orders on your pages for products and services you sell.
Preparing content for the web can be very easy. In many cases, you can use the same materials you use in your printed mailings. Of course, they will have to be converted to the HTML document markup language that web pages are made of. This is not difficult to do yourself, once you've learned how. If you don't want to learn how, if you don't have a scanner for importing any images from your marketing materials, or if you want a sophisticated website with forms and product order-taking and/or delivery capabilities, you should choose a professional website designer to take care of it for you. This will save a lot of time and you can learn how the first one is made and do future updates and changes yourself.
Of course, there's more to it than just putting up your website: you need to promote it. Luckily, this is easy to do. There are over a dozen "search engines" (databases of websites) on the web, each of which you can submit information about your website to. All it entails is accessing the website of each search engine, and reading the details on submissions.
Don't confine your publicizing to just online. Be sure to promote your website in the "real world" through paid advertising, press releases, etc., just like a product. You will need to ensure that people who visit your website will want to come back frequently. Do this by changing your content on a regular basis.
For example, if you have informational reports that they can download for free, rotate the reports so new ones are available at least every two months. Contests can be a good idea, too. For example, give a free product to the person who collects all the clues that you sprinkle throughout your website over a two month period. Put these techniques together, and you'll have an Internet marketing machine!
This article was written by author, Victoria Ring. To contact Victoria personally, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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