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E-Business Secrets

Marketing your site with an e-mail newsletter
Some tricks to squeeze out a little more revenue

By  Brian Livingston December 03, 2002  

Many e-commerce sites promote themselves with e-mail newsletters. But these companies often miss out on the revenue that's possible by using a few little-known tricks.


The divas of Marketing Sherpa -- Anne Holland, Alexis Gutzman, and Marcia Yudkin -- describe an incredible number of these money-making techniques in two new reports. I'll reveal gems from the first, "Best Practices in Marketing with E-mail Newsletters," in this issue. I'll deal with the other report next week.

The authors show that there's a lot of money on the table where e-mail marketing is concerned:

1. More than 88 percent of online consumers have made a purchase as a result of a message they requested to receive, according to DoubleClick.

2. Roughly 25 percent of online marketing budgets are currently devoted to advertising placed in e-mail newsletters, and this figure is expected to rise to 32 percent by 2005, says Forrester Research.

3. Each customer contact via an e-mail newsletter costs an average of 20 cents, compared with 75 cents to $2 for direct mail and $1 to $3 for telemarketing, according to eMarketer.

Despite the opportunity, even many full-time professionals don't know some of the fine details of e-mail publishing, as explained by Marketing Sherpa:

1. Hotmail.com refuses to open a browser window for any links in an e-mail -- after the message has been viewed by the user for five minutes. Publishers with many Hotmail recipients must remind them to refresh the page (by pressing the F5 key, for example).

2. Subject lines are absolutely key. The Association for Interactive Marketing more than doubled its circulation by adding "Pls. Forward" to the end of its newsletter's subject line. iEntry.com found that the line "Free Macromedia seminar" generated a newsletter open rate 40 percent higher than a boring line.

3. Include on your landing page a 2D or 3D graphic of a book cover when your e-mail newsletter is promoting an electronic, downloadable report. This doubles or triples sales of the document, even when it's obvious that the product being sold has no physical form.

4. Provide an easy way for people to fix addresses they submit at your site. "As many as 20 percent of typed-in e-mail addresses are typically misspelled," according to Mitchel Harad, CEO of GetRelevant.com.

In addition to its specific tips, the authors' 180-page report includes a remarkable 54-page section on opt-in techniques that are successful in winning new subscribers. The list includes 15 "passive" tactics -- such as offering a free gift to people who receive your newsletter when it's been forwarded to them from a new subscriber -- and 14 "active" topics, including advertising in e-zines.

There's simply too much meaty knowledge here for me to possibly do it justice. The $149 report is available from: http://www.sherpastore.com http://bri.li/?4e77

I'll summarize the authors' second report, "Top 25 Case Studies on Marketing with E-mail Newsletters," next week. Until then, details on the $95 download are available at: http://www.sherpastore.com http://bri.li/?61ff

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Do you own a laptop or a desktop PC with the newer, faster USB 2.0 standard? If so, the day will soon come when you'll need a little hub so you can plug two or three of your peripheral devices into a single port.

The Belkin USB 2.0 Pocket Hub fills the bill very nicely. It's only the size of a thick credit card -- much smaller than most USB hubs. And, best of all, its plug is retractable into the unit, so the cord doesn't flop around. Why aren't all gizmos designed this well?

TechDepot.com is one of the first places to get this goodie, at a price of about $54 with free shipping. See it at: http://www.techdepot.com http://bri.li/?7587

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1. Thieves steal 30,000 credit identities, revealing weak systems: http://www.wired.com http://bri.li/?43f

2. With retail sales flat, how is e-commerce growing so fast? http://www.ecommercetimes.com http://bri.li/?827

3. The easiest e-mail marketing mistake to correct is a failure to test: http://www.clickz.com http://bri.li/?c0f

4. Holiday season may produce a vast increase in e-tail spam: http://www.internetnews.com http://bri.li/?ff7

5. United States attorney considers block-list suit: http://www.microenterprisejournal.com http://bri.li/?13df

6. When developing IT services, do you know your real customers? http://www.computerworld.com http://bri.li/?17c7

7. Design so your e-commerce pages are accessible to all users: http://www.webmasterbase.com http://bri.li/?1baf

8. Find security weaknesses in your site with these online tests: http://www.baselinemag.com http://bri.li/?1f97

9. Sorry you upgraded? Now you can get old versions of many applets: http://www.oldversion.com http://bri.li/?237f

10. Just in time for the holidays, you can download Elf Bowling 2: http://www.nstorm.com http://bri.li/?2767

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Top 10 lists are wildly popular, but there's one site that tops them all by adding a hilarious dimension. KeepersOfLists.org allows readers to submit their own items and vote on the funniest lines by others.

One of the site's recent features is "The Top 14 Signs You Are Not Getting a Year-End Bonus." According to the site's followers, two of the top things to watch out for are "Every time you get a paycheck, your boss asks you how soon you're planning to cash it" and "Your company's name ends in dot-com."

See it at: http://www.keepersoflists.org http://bri.li/?c3a7

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E-BUSINESS SECRETS: Our mission is to bring you such useful and thought-provoking information about the Web that you actually look forward to reading your e-mail.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: E-Business Secrets is written by InfoWorld contributing editor Brian Livingston: http://SecretsPro.com

Research Director is Vickie Stevens. Brian has published 10 books, including:

Windows Me Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/?0764534939

Windows 2000 Secrets: http://www.amazon.com http://bri.li/?0764534130

You'll receive a gift certificate good for a book, CD, or DVD of your choice if you're the first to send Brian a Top Story or Wacky Web Week he prints. mailto:Brian@SecretsPro.com

Brian Livingston is publisher of BriansBuzz.com. Send tips to him at brian@briansbuzz.com.

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