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Hope: Never Give Up

Banner ads produce a paltry return on the investment dollar. Click-throughs are down to less than one-half of one percent. Sending millions of emails to a list purchased on CDs not only results in minuscule response rates but angers the very people whose business you're hoping to acquire.

But all is not lost.

For additional business, I suggest that you market to a database of people who are already sold on your company and its products or services—your current customers. You do maintain a house list of current customers, don't you? And you do stay in contact with them on a periodic basis through some form of electronic communication, such as an email newsletter, right? If you don't, you're missing out on a well of sales that's just waiting to be tapped.

Direct marketing teaches that a person who has just purchased from a company is more likely to purchase again—and soon—than a new prospect. Therefore, your house list of customers should be the first place you look to obtain additional revenue. This is where effective use of email marketing comes into play. The unique communications technology of the Net provides an excellent opportunity for you to educate existing customers about other products you have that might interest them.

The true potential of email marketing lies in targeting specific products and services to your existing customer base. To profile and segment your customer base, you need to know who they are, what they bought, and what they may be interested in buying in the future. This is no easy task; most people are not willing to give up such personal information without something in return.

What we're talking about here is permission marketing—asking for information and the permission to market to someone. Ask your customer base for the information you need to successfully market your products and services to them—and be prepared to give them something in return. Which leads us to the next virtue of e-commerce—charity.

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