I was never a fan of web-based selling. It always seemed to present the same problems as general advertising: First of all, it’s expensive. Second, it’s not worth much — because there is such a limited amount of space available to make a sale. It’s another version of space advertising — generally worthless unless you can buy it at a discount or you are making so much money (e.g., you are in the perfume, cigarette, or car business) that you don’t need to get a positive ROI on your advertising dollars.
E-mail marketing is very different. It is targeted and trackable. You know exactly who you sent your promotion to. You can even learn if they read it. And you can find out exactly how many of those people responded and exactly how much money they spent with you.
E-mail marketing is just like snail-mail marketing except for one big difference: Because there’s no postage involved, it’s cheaper. (See “Postage Keeps Going Up, But It’s Still Zero With E-Mail” below.) And it’s especially cheap when you use it to market to your own customer base, since you’ve already spent the money to acquire those names.
In the pre-e-mail days, next to telemarketing, direct mail to your own customer base was far and away the most lucrative way to generate additional back-end sales. Today, with the cost of postage eliminated, e-mail is probably No.1.
In the past two years, I’ve seen — up close — about $10 million worth of back-end e-mail marketing. It has almost always been profitable.
I’ve seen it work in all sorts of direct-marketing businesses, from financial services to health care to publishing. I’ve also seen it work in retail real estate, wholesale furniture sales, and advertising. In fact, I can’t think of a single business that would not benefit from it. To prove the point, let’s consider an unlikely example — something that wouldn’t normally use Internet marketing at all…
Let’s say you had an Italian hosteria and managed to collect the e-mail addresses of 200 of your best customers. Don’t you think you could use them to generate extra sales? What if, for example, you put together a special tasting menu once a month — on a slow day like Tuesday — and provided regional cuisine from each of Italy’s 20 provinces? What if you sent news of this special event, along with a sample menu and a special invitation, to each of those 200 customers via a friendly e-mail letter? Can you imagine that it wouldn’t work? Of course, it would!
No matter what business you’re in, your existing customers have already made a mental and emotional commitment to you. They have spent money on your products/services, and they want to believe they spent that money wisely. You can convince them they have — and encourage them to repeat the action — by sending them a friendly greeting every week or two, telling them what you are doing, giving them some helpful hints, sharing with them some useful information, and reselling them on the ideas/products/services they bought in the first place.
Back-end e-mail marketing to your customers will absolutely, positively work. The only question is: How well?
If you haven’t yet started e-mailing your buyers, do so immediately. If you have a program in place, ask yourself how you can:
1. make it more beneficial for your customers
2. make it more productive for you
(Hint: The two are usually related.)
Also — and consider this a bonus — take a look at your VIP address book (the “little black book” of powerful contacts that we talked about in Message #265). Consider putting all of those important people on a periodic e-mail program. What can you send them that will be both useful to them and helpful for you, either immediately or in the long run?[Ed. Note. Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]