Don?t look like spam

Don’t Look Like Spam There is an art to email delivery that really is not that difficult to understand when you put your private email communications in context. Most of us encounter email delivery problems when we start using email for marketing purposes and we are sending out a lot of emails to many customers. You may have noticed that very rarely do you encounter email deliverability problems with your private emails to friends or even with business emails. That is because spam filter software has become very adept at telling the difference between a professional email that could be spam and private communications. So naturally that tells us something important about how to go about avoiding email delivery problems when constructing marketing communications. You just have to work to make sure your marketing emails do not look like spam and look more like a private email so they fly right through spam filters and get to your customers. In addition your marketing emails must act like private emails. That means if you have a well developed mailing list of perhaps several thousand of email addresses or more, do not manage that from your private email service. For a mailing of that size, it is best to utilize the services of a professional autoresponder service. The cost is nominal and could be by the mailing. They can send out your emails in such a way as to not draw the alarms of the spam filter software guardians. And they often offer additional services such as deliverability reports, retransmits of bounced emails and reports of bad email addresses that can save you a lot of time and make you more efficient as well. One of the ways that spam filters often identify spam is by the level of graphics that is used in the marketing email. While very attractive emails do send a message of professionalism to the customer, they don’t send that message if they end up at the bottom of a spam quarantine folder. So avoid the use of graphics altogether. Just say what you have to say to your customer and then draw them to your web site with a link where they can see your professional graphics. Have you ever scanned a full spam filter holding folder? If you have not, you should because it will tell you a lot about how spammers write. Just by scanning twenty or thirty of these spam messages, you can get a feel for the techniques used by spammers and you can avoid those methods in writing your own marketing emails. This falls under the "know thy enemy" category of doing battle with email delivery problems because it is the spammer that is the enemy here. When writing an email that will go out to your customers or prospective customers, think of that customer as one person whom you are writing to as a friend. Be informal and avoid a lot of marketing "hype" and hyperbole. Spam filters are good at "listening" for the language of spam artists so if you write like a person writing to a person, it is very likely your email will go right on through because it will not be flagged as marketing at all. And the other benefit of writing like this to your customers is that it is a warm and personal style that will work well in communicating to customers. Make a hobby of keeping up with how spam emailers work and how their messages change as they learn to get around spam filters. The spam filter businesses will be changing with them so be aware of any new trends in this stange part of cyberspace communication so you can alter how you create your marketing emails so you make sure your communications with your customers never look like spam. Word Count 641

Draw customers to you through web events

Draw Customers to You Through Web Events Email delivery problems has put an urgency to the priority of changing how we communicate with customers on the internet. At one time, you may have conducted virtually all of your marketing and customer interactions via email. Not that long ago, there was a time when email was so dominant as a form of communication that we all depended on it almost exclusively because it was the only thing that was truly interactive about the internet. Two developments in how the internet works has changed that scenario significantly. From a negative point of view, email delivery has continued to grow as a bigger and bigger problem every year. That means that more and more online merchants have struggled with how undependable email communications has become. The problem, of course is that spam as relentlessly eroded how much anyone can depend on email except for private communications. So to avoid having to make email delivery a second career, many online merchants and retailers are looking for new and up to date modes of communication to replace email. The second development is more positive and it is the WEB 2.0 evolution of the internet which has changed how the internet works. Whereas business web sites used to be nothing more than online brochures, all web sites are now migrating to the WEB 2.0 model which means web sites themselves are seats of customer communications which takes the emphasis off of email as a sole line of communication with customers. These developments bode well for providing an escape for online merchants with the cumbersome overhead of trying to keep up with email delivery issues from month to month. But it doesn’t mean you will abandon email entirely. The one aspect of email that has yet to be totally replaced is its ability to remind a customer of your products and services. Just having a highly interactive web site is good but internet denizens are notoriously short in the memory department and they need a reason to come back to your web site from time to time. A web event is a great way to create excitement and to make your customers want to come to your web site at a specified time to be part of the big event. A big sale, a special speaker, a musical performance or an interview with a notable celebrity from your field of expertise is just the thing to draw people to your web site to experience something new and interesting. The more you can get away from using email reminders and communications, the more you get away from having to worry about deliverability issues. This is especially true with a web event. If you go to the effort and expense of scheduling a big event for your users, to have email deliverability problems stall or lose your reminders resulting in a failed event would be a disaster. So to build your clientele for the big event, promote it interactively on your web site. You can use your blog, message boards or chat rooms for promotion and to create excitement. Then from each of those web site pages, take interested customers to a sign up page for the event and do an email verification of their sign up. That verification can be used to encourage those customers to add a specific email address to their preferred users list. Once that is in place, you have much more leverage to email your users about this and other events and drive your customers back to your web site for events, sales and for you to do your marketing dynamically and interactively, the WEB 2.0 way. Word Count 617

Monitoring email deliverability

Monitoring Email Deliverability The world of business communications has changed dramatically in the last two decades and with it the way you go about marketing your products has changed too. In this new century if you are not assured you can be successful with internet marketing and to do so using email, you are behind the curve in getting to the customer base you need before your competitors too. For many companies the only way to reach the volume of customers you need to reach to reach your financial goals is through mass email advertising campaigns. But the services you can subscribe to are costly. If you pay a price to deliver 100,000 emails to potential customers and only 5000 actually get to those email inboxes because spam filters are catching your advertisements first, then you have wasted a lot of money. The only way you can really know what percentage of emails are getting through to the customers is to find a way to monitor them. That is why employing an independent agency that can help you track your emails makes sense. If that company can deliver to you a report that shows in detail and by ISP what percentage of your emails are being trapped by filters and conversely how many are getting to customers, you have what you need to make some decisions about how to spend your internet marketing budget in the next quarter. But that data has to be reliable and usable to you and it must be graphic so you can use it in presentations to current management to illustrate the problem and what you plan to do with it. It makes sense to look into the top email delivery monitoring services to determine if they can provide you with those statistics. An example of such a service is DeliveryMonitor. com. This service makes it possible to see in detail how many of your emails are getting to their intended email inboxes, how many are being diverted to spam filters and how many vanish entirely from the internet (presumably automatically deleted by spam filters). This information is reported by major ISP so you can quickly spot if your message is being caught more often by one ISP than another. Armed with this kind of information, you can dig deeper to find out what spam detection rules the ISPs in question are using and then tailor your next mass communications email so your message is approved by the ISP filters and goes on to the customers. The outcome is that if the service is accurate, within a matter of months, you will have what you need to fine tune your email marketing plan and see a significant improvement in successful delivery of your advertising to customers. When you see that percentage start to go up, you will immediately see a corresponding increase in inquiries about your product or services followed by an increase in sales. That kind of refinement of your marketing program is exactly what needs to be done every week and every month by your marketing department to assure long term success in this modern world of digital commerce. A good email delivery monitor provides two important services for your business. The first is the one we just described. By giving you the data you need to evaluate why your emails are not getting to the customers email boxes, you can make changes to fix the problem and see a dramatically higher rate of success for your marketing dollar. But the second service is just as valuable because the reports, statistics and graphs that are given to you are crucial both for your management of internet advertising and for communication with corporate management. You are going to be held accountable for the success of your internet marketing programs. This data will help you be able to show both where you are successful and where work needs to be done and to show management the path to success you have planned. This is not a commercial for any one service but DeliveryMonitor is a good example of how they work and a good starting place for your evaluation. But be a thorough business person and evaluate the field of services so when you do budget to bring a email delivery reporting service on board as a vendor, you know what you are paying for and you know what they can do for your business. Word Count 743

The good of giving it away

The Good of Giving it Away The phenomenon of downloads has gotten a lot of press that has indicated that people who seek to download things for free from the internet are stealing and are bad people. But the truth is that the internet was virtually built on the concept of free stuff and it is as much a part of the internet culture as email and domain names. But the internet didn’t invent the phenomenon that people like to get things for free. That is a part of human nature. The big question is whether you are going to moan about that and work against human nature to stop people from wanting free stuff or are you going to tap into that desire for free goodies for your marketing purposes. Some of the most popular web sites there are have gotten that way because they give stuff away for free. A good example is YouTube. While visitors to YouTube generally do not download the videos, they can see them for free as often as they wish and at no cost to them at all. And the outcome is a web site that has enjoyed explosive traffic and made the YouTube creators very wealthy as a result. Free downloads bridges the gap between marketing to customers where they are, which is what you do with email marketing or marketing to them where you are which is what you do on your web site. When a customer comes to your web site to see something interesting or to download the latest free give away you have to offer, they take that download to their own world. That download becomes viral and it can be used to take new customers back to the web site or to encourage them to make contact with you via email so you can expand your email mailing list as a result of one simple download. Probably the reason tapping the natural instinct in customers to seek out something free from you is so successful is that it shifts the movement of marketing to the customer who wants to come to you rather than you forcing yourself on the customer. In that way downloads can become a clever and natural way to get around email delivery problems as a result of over zealous spam filters. By organizing downloads to tie in with email communications, you encourage customers to add your corporate email address to their favored contacts list. They will want to get your emails in the future so they can hear about the next download. When you become dependable to give away desirable downloads to your regulars, the word of that activity will spread like wildfire through the user community. You can encourage that recruitment momentum by offering existing members of your online community additional free stuff if they pass an invitation email along to a friend. By adding fuel to the fire of the download fever, you are using that natural energy of online customers to get things for free to expand your marketing base and resolve your email delivery problems all in one simple marketing step. The funny thing about using downloads in this way is that the thing you are giving away really doesn’t have to have a huge value to you in the first place. It might be a digital ebook you own that long ago lost its marketing value as a sales item. But by giving it away, it suddenly becomes hidden treasure to your customers. You can also give away a something from your catalog of products on your shopping cart pages. For the cost of one item, you will harvest a wealth of new customers and generate web traffic and new sales that will more than pay for the promotion. Word Count 635

Forget mass mailings and get customers to bring you customers

Forget Mass Mailings and Get Customers to Bring You Customers Customer recruitment has always been a big challenge for retailers even before the internet came along. It is one thing to have a loyal community of customers who bring you business regularly week after week. But no retailer can rest on that community for two important reasons. The first reason is that you have to grow as a business in order to reach your financial goals each year. You are not in business just to get by. You are business to succeed and that means growth and that means getting new customers all the time. The second reason is you cannot count on your existing customer base staying stable indefinitely. Customer communities are have a living quality so they are always changing. Customers move away or take their services elsewhere. You face new competition and other market forces help and hurt your customer base from year to year. So to assure the ongoing health of your business both online and outside of the internet, you have to always be thinking about getting new customers. For much of the early life of the internet, the standard way to go out and find new customers was through mass email mailing campaigns. These kinds of marketing efforts were organized by email management companies who promised to send out your marketing email to thousands of valid email addresses. So you signed on for 10,000 or 100,000 emails and the service flooded the internet with your message. The hope was that from that huge mailing you would harvest a few hundred or a few dozen new customers to add to your customer community to keep our base of revenue fresh and growing. But it was the mass mailing phenomenon that brought us another phenomenon that has caused huge problems with using email as a marketing tool. And that phenomenon is spam. Because spam has become such an ominous problem for users, ISPs and individual internet citizens have invested heavily in spam control software which intercepts mass mailings and stops them before they reach the inbox of the customer. The outcome are email delivery problems for you, the online merchant, that are very difficult to resolve. The good news that the era of interactive internet communities and viral marketing has opened a whole new and far more effective way for you to recruit new customers. It is a method of bringing new customers to you that has been well known to being far superior than any direct marketing strategy you could every hope to design. It is the strategy of letting your existing customer base bring new customers to you. And you seed that process to set the wheels in motion through viral marketing methods such as give aways and downloads that existing customers are encouraged to share freely with their friends. There is a basic aspect of human psychology that viral marketing methods exploit heavily and that is people love to tell other people exciting things. So if you have loyal customers already, you don’t have to "recruit" them directly to spread the news about your web site and your online goods and services. You just have to excite them about a give away or some upcoming event. Suppose, for example, that you are going to have a famous speaker give an online symposium on a given date. By notifying your existing customers, you create a momentum of excitement that will spread in a viral fashion from those customers to others of similar interests. By making sure they know how to direct their friends and loved ones to the symposium, you can "pack out" the event and use the opportunity to recruit new customers by the dozens or by the hundreds. This is a far more effective technique than the old mass mailing approach to customer recruitment. Getting customers through viral marketing generates excitement and capitalizes on the natural trust between friends as customers bring you new customers. And above all, you are not generating spam and you are not wresting with email delivery problems. Word Count 700

Letting someone else worry about email deliverability

Letting someone else worry about email deliverability. The crisis in email deliverability is not a fluke and it really isn't something we don’t understand. We know the reason and we know why it continues to be a challenge to online merchants such as you and I. The issue has to do with spam filters that are constantly in a state of evolution. There is an ongoing tit for tat war going on between internet mass merchandisers, otherwise known as spam artists, and the software protection services that sell us and our ISP servers spam protection software. Spam protection is not a static business. It is one that is always changing because there is a living enemy, spam artists, who are working hard to circumvent spam filters. So almost as quickly as spam filters find ways to catch spam and route it to deleted or spam quarantine folders, spam artists figure out that the spam filters have gotten a leg up and they go to work to find new ways to get around the spam filters.

It is a vicious cycle and one that can steal your time that you need to devote to building your business, develop your products and services and build good customer relationships. To do all of that you need reliable email delivery. But in order to be assured your marketing or customer service emails get all the way to your customers each and every time, you will have to find a way to keep up on the latest tricks of email design that will get your email delivered while spam operators are blocked by spam filters. Who has time to keep up with this constantly changing battle field? But at the same time email is a cornerstone of most of our internet marketing plans. So this is a perfect scenario to find an expert service that you can turn over your email design issues and who makes it their business to keep up with the ongoing war between spam artists and spam filter designers. By turning it all over to a professional for a fee, you can let someone else worry about email deliverability and you can focus on your business. A good example of an email service that can do the job and add value in a multitude of other ways is Lyris.

You are a prudent business person and you don’t want to pay for yet another service to do what seems like should be something you can do easily, namely design and deliver expert and professional email communications. But email services like Lyris offer a package of services that can deliver a lot of value to your business and put you in control of how your email marketing is working. Some of the services that you can look to get for your subscription to an email service provider like Lyris are… . Assistance with professional development of emails so your emails look great and grab the attention of your customers. . Development of HTML code for your emails that works and that does not trigger spam filters to quarantine your emails. This service alone makes the cost of using a professional email developer worth the money. . Manage email lists and scheduled large scale mailings. You may have multiple marketing campaigns targeting different niche customer groups. A service like Lyris can automate the email releases so you can set it up and walk away from it. . In depth reports on deliverability and other email metrics. Its worth taking a look at using a service like Lyris. They can keep up with current trends in spam filtering and make sure your email delivery problems are neutralized so your email marketing programs work every time. The peace of mind alone is worth the cost. Word Count 634

Bringing the customers to you with a contest

Bringing the Customers to You with a Contest Internet citizens and anyone who has used email for any length of time knows that they have to be on the alert for unwanted emails. This suspicion is one of the reasons it is difficult to use unsolicited emails for internet marketing any more. Instead a far more effective method is to create excitement in customers you already know is through some promotion that they want to hear about in their email box. And when they are excited to see your emails arrive, they will be sure to add your business email address to their favored email contacts list and you will have circumvented the spam software problem that has been the cause of your email delivery problems all along. There are many ways to generate excitement in your customer base but perhaps no other one is so additive for your customers as a contest. For the cost of a small prize, people will work tirelessly to satisfy the terms of the contest. And by structuring the contest so the customers must get their clues via email, you are opening that door of email communications for future promotions and marketing. That alone might be worth the price of the prize. The great thing about creating a contest is you can structure how it works to take the customers to your web site or have them collect clues that are directly related to y our products or services and the contest itself can become a big marketing "commercial" that the customers want to be part of. A contest, along with the obvious value of helping to resolve your email deliverability problems, can serve to generate web site traffic and energize a sluggish site or a function on your web site that you want to see get more attention. Do you have a blog that isn't getting enough traffic? Hide a clue on it and challenge the contestants to come and search for that clue. Want to see a banner ad get more clicks, let the contestants know the next clue is hidden behind that banner ad and then put the clue on your affiliates page. The clicks to that banner or affiliate link will skyrocket. You can often cover the costs of the promotion and the prize through the increased traffic to your web site entirely. An online contest can also help drive business to a brick and mortar retail operation that you may be using your web presence to support. This is a wonderful way to meet your online customers face to face by using the contest to take the customers to your store to look for a clue. As they move through the aisles of the store, in addition to eagerly looking for the next step of the contest, they will be shopping and very often, buying things which is exactly what you are looking for. A contest that you set off via email is also a powerful viral marketing tool. Your customers will naturally tell their friends and relatives about the contest. And as more people hear about the contest, you may see a surge of requests to join in on the fun coming through your online message services. Just be sure to take those customers to an email registration so you can harvest their email addresses and get your business email placed on their favored contacts list too. In that way you cleverly expand your marketing base while drawing new customers to your web site. You may find that once you get started having contests via email and contests that incorporate every aspect of your online presence, it might become a habit you want to repeat often. The increased traffic, sales and expansion of your customer base can be so lively that there is no reason not to use this marketing tool often. Word Count 648

The path to customers

The Path to Customers Email deliverability is a big issue when your ability to market to online customers relies on a strong email link to them. You have a valuable product or service to offer your customers. The problem is that your good emails are being mixed in with a lot of junk emails or "spam" and the protections customers have built are very good at blocking spam. When your email goes down with the ship, so does your profitability. Finding out if and how spam filters or other email blocks are killing your marketing program is a big part of managing the email deliverability problem. You know from conventional marketing studies that when it comes to advertising, the amount of customers who will respond to advertising they see is small and the percentage of those customers who actually buy is even smaller. So if your advertisement reaches 10,000 customers, 1% of that group might respond. Of that 100 people, you might realize 1-5 sales. But in a marketing model, that is a successful advertising campaign. Internet marketing complicates the formula. That is because if you send out a mass mailing email to 10,000 customers, the odds are that a tiny percentage of those emails will actually reach the customer. So if 1000 of those emails reaches the customer and the 1% rule is still valid (and it is), the chances of you getting even one new paying customer go way down. That is just not acceptable. It might be that the answer lies in thinking outside the box. Instead of depending entirely on tricking spam filters and other ploys to actually reach the customer, a better way to approach the battle might be to think again about the path to the customers that you are using. If you think of how you go about trying to reach your customers as a road, the mass mailing method is clearly a road that has a lot of road blocks on it. The answer might not be to get over or around or remove the road blocks. The answer might be to find a new road to the customers. That road lies in customer behavior. Think about it. If you are throwing your marketing at trying to attract the general internet population to your products and services, thousands or millions of those people will never become your customers. So your promotion to them is a waste of time. The key to any successful marketing plan is to narrow your focus to only the customers who want to buy from you. So how do you know which of those millions of internet web surfers out there have an interest in your products and services? You know because they are already coming to your web site. This is the old "look in your own back yard" theory. The customers who are finding you online and visiting your web site, even if only for a short time have or at one time had an interest in your business. So instead of going out into the general population and trying to get everyone to be a customer, focus your energies on that smaller population who already are your customers or at least showed an internet in being your customer. This approach to building a new path to the customer vastly improves the percentage of responses to your emails. Now in stead of sending out 10,000 mail to random email addresses to harvest maybe one sale, you may narrow your focus and send 2000 emails to people who are interested in what you do and get 50 sales from the effort. That is just smart marketing. Instead of trying to assault 10,00 spam filters and 10,000 disinterested customers, you enter into a relationship with a smaller niche of the market. And because that smaller group of customers already knows you, your emails are welcome and will get read. Your message gets across and the customers who are ready to buy will come to you. And all because you used strategy instead of brute force to reach customers on a different road, a road that lead directly to the real customers, not one lined with obstacles and hazards. Word Count 704

Dump the mass mailings

Dump the Mass Mailings What if you could drop a marketing email into 100,000 email boxes in one day and have 100,000 potential new customers see your marketing message and possibly become long term customers of your internet business? That sounds pretty enticing doesn't it? That is the basic marketing strategy that many internet marketers have tried to use to build their online business. This is a methodology commonly called "Mass Mailings",. That is the polite word for this technique. The less complimentary term that email recipients use for mass marketing emails is simply "spam". Mass mailing marketing has been big business on the internet. And it is unfair to say that it has been used exclusively by scam artists or pyramid scheme operators. Many legitimate business have tried mass mailings to build their internet business on the promise that the companies who offer these services have harvested tens of thousands of valid email addresses that they will send your marketing message to for a small fee. Compared to the amount of emails that will go out, the fee seems fair. The marketing formula for success is also a reasonable one. Usually the fee for the mailing can be offset by a small number of sales, perhaps less than ten. And with 100,000 emails going out, the expectation that you might get a response of 100-1000 inquiries that could result in 10 sales is not unreasonable at all. The problem is that for every 1000 customers who may have an interest in your product or service, you will have antagonized 99,000 others who see your email as nothing more than electronic junk mail otherwise known as spam. The spam epidemic has reached a level of crisis precisely because mass mailing services and software have made it possible for good business, scam artists and even virus producers to spread their bad emails to a vast audience if the spam is left untouched. The result is that an entire cottage industry has sprung up to fight the spam epidemic. These companies sell software to you to fight spam emails by keeping up on the most up to date spamming methods and catching bad emails and sending them to your deleted box or a spam folder for future deletion. This sets in motion a vicious cycle of one one-upmanship in which the spam operators find ways around the spam filters and the spam filter providers continue to update their software to stop the newest tricks of the spam operators. It has become a huge mess and the worst part about it is that you as a valid internet marketer of a valid product or service only want a reliable method to communicate with new and existing customers. Mass mailing seems like one way to do that. But when you decide to try your hand at sending a mass mailing email, you get in the middle of the spam war and you are then faced with dealing with sophisticated email delivery hindrance systems that are there to fight the problem of spam. So what can we do about trying to build our online businesses with this huge battle causing serious disruptions to email deliverability? For one thing, abandon the use of mass mailings entirely. They don't work and they put you in the distasteful company of spammers and internet criminals. There are far better ways to communicate with customers such as web site memberships, newsletters and contests that the customer can opt in on. Build your relationships with the customer from the customer out and you will be able to avoid the entire spam deliverability wars and side step the email deliverability issues as well. Word Count 615

Smart money is on web site traffic

Smart Money is On Web Site Traffic There may be nothing more frustrating when you are trying to build a strong internet marketing plan than to see your email promotions fall apart because of poor email deliverability. The formula of marketing is one that you should be able to believe in. . You know you have a good product or service that customers will benefit from and that will bring you repeat business once customer relationships are found. . You know there is a market niche out there that are highly likely to patronize your business. . You know that there is a market need for your product or service so once the customers are aware of what you have to offer, sales potential is significant. . Marketing techniques should work to bring customers on board to get the sales moving and take your business to the next level. Small wonder that you get frustrated because with all the elements in place, the problem is your marketing emails are not getting to the customers. So you have to spend additional money on email delivery monitoring and management services and additional time establishing relationships with ISPs just to get permission to push your emails through to the customers. There really is no equivalent blockage in the non internet marketing world. It is as though you put a billboard up on the busiest intersection in town where customers you know can use your services drive every day only to find they closed the freeway and none of the customers will see the billboard. But you have to pay for it anyway. Maybe it is time to rethink the equation. For one thing, email is one of the oldest forms of internet communications there is. Maybe it is too old. It is old enough that a culture of fear has been built around the whole spam problem and sophisticated tools are in use by customers, ISPs and spammers all at war about whether scam artists should be able to abuse internet customers through email. But something has changed right under the feet of email scammers that has also altered the formula for internet marketing entirely. And that change may have made email as a less important internet marketing tool. The thing that has changed is WEB 2.0 which has changed the formula for how people use the internet and how people market on it as well. Because WEB 2.0 has changed the approach to the internet to make web site more than just online brochures but living "places" where people interact and the web visitor becomes a vital part of the web site itself, that changes how we might approach marketing to web savvy customers. As odd as it may seem, email may be too slow as a mode of communication with your customers in this day of instant messaging, message boards and voice over internet communications. It isn't that people don’t use email any more because they do. But with the imposition of so many restrictions causing email deliverability to become a nightmare, a shift in focus to direct marketing to a very active internet community on your web site is in order. This means that instead of throwing good money after bad trying to fix the email deliverability problem, maybe email marketing is no longer where the smart money should go. Instead the smart money might be better used to update your web site, to make your online "presence" a real place and to build and then capitalize on live and active web traffic as a far more dynamic way to conduct your marketing campaign. Word Count 608

Is email obsolete

Is Email Obsolete? That is a pretty startling question. And in that you no doubt have checked your email dozens of times today, sent numerous emails out and gotten that many or more in, to say that as a mode of communication that email is obsolete would be a mistake. Email is no more obsolete than letter writing or talking on the telephone is. But it is safe to say that its possible that email is no longer cutting edge and its era as a primary tool for internet marketing may be coming to an end. When email first became a popular mode of communication, it virtually changed the way communication worked in a way that can only be compared to the invention of the telephone. Email combined the quickness of a telephone conversation with the ability to document what was said of a letter writing exchange. At the time to be able to send an email that reached the recipient's email box in moments time even if they were on the other side of the world was mind blowing. The internet marketing potential was tremendous. As internet marketing became a genuine mode of doing businesses, it grew up as the use of email grew up. However there was trouble in paradise and we probably don’t have to tell you what the problems were. It can be summed up in one word - spam. Spam is nothing more than unwanted email communications usually from an internet marketer. The corresponding experience outside of the internet is the solicitor phone call in the middle of dinner or junk mail and both are just as irritating and unwelcome as spam marketing emails. So in the last decade internet marketing using email as the primary mode of communication with your customers has grown in two parallel lines. The legitimate side of email marketing and customer support has grown and become more sophisticated and useful. Many businesses were able to build impressive online business empires supported by email marketing and ongoing email communications with a growing customer base. For thousands of online marketers, the idea of conducting business without email communications with customers seems impossible. But it was the other parallel line that grew like a cancer to the point that it snarled email communications and has interfered with email deliverability for the many legitimate email based internet merchants working in cyberspace. The spam merchants working with sophisticated mass mailing services and software have flooded email boxes of every citizen of cyberspace to such an extent that without spam control software both at the server level and at the desk top level, it is virtually impossible to use email for routine purposes any more. Spam control software has grown exponentially as well and become powerful and sophisticated. It has also spawned a cottage industry which has imposed a whole new cost of operations on every email user in the world who wants to avoid the spam avalanche they will face if they go unprotected. This has created resentment and distrust in the email system of communications in general and certainly toward online merchants who wish to use the internet for customer service and marketing. To say that a few bad apples spoiled it for everyone puts it mildly. Because of this ongoing war between spam operators and spam control software services, email deliverability has become a tedious chore to maintain and without constant oversight, an internet merchant can lose contact with its customers in short order. For that email has become obsolete as a valid and easy to use tool for marketing and customer communications. Meanwhile new forms of communications such as instant messaging, VOIP and WEB 2.0 interoperability have started the next wave of evolution in internet communications. The chances are that we will see internet merchants move away from email marketing to exploit these much more dynamic methods for customer communications. And while email will never die as a cornerstone of online communications, from an internet marketing point of view, it is very much out of step with the times. Word Count 681

Web 2 0 to the rescue

WEB 2.0 to the Rescue You may have heard about WEB 2.0 but perhaps you thought it was some trendy new toy that would go by the wayside like lots of them do. Instead it represents a revolution in how the internet works. And to an internet retailer or merchant such as you and I, it represents a solution to one of the biggest problems we face in staying in touch with our customers and that is email deliverability problems. The reason WEB 2.0 is going to come to the rescue in saving us from our email deliverability problems lies in how it basically changes the way people use and view the internet and internet communications in particular. Before WEB 2.0, if you wanted to communicate with your customers, you had to take the communication to them. Hence you put together an email that you sent out via a mass mailing or using a service and you hoped that you would hear back from some percentage of your customers about this most recent promotion. To a large extent under that system, you never knew if the customer got your email or if they took advantage of what you have to offer because of the email you spent money to send out. But a bigger problem that has grown bigger and bigger with each passing year is that spam and spam filter software that is designed to protect individuals from the potentially dangerous effects of spam also have created a huge problem of email delivery verification for online merchants to contend with. As long as the formula is that the merchant must take marketing to the customer, email delivery problems will be the bane of the internet merchant's existence. That is why WEB 2.0 is going to come to the rescue by changing the basic assumption of how we communicate to customers. With WEB 2.0, you no longer have to take marketing to the customer because the way the internet now works is customers come to you where you can interact and market to them dynamically on your web site where they might "hang out" for extended periods of time. WEB 2.0 and how it works can be seen in some of the most explosive new internet services of the last five years including YouTube, MySpace and Wikipedia. These web sites are the first fruits of a redesign of the internet that makes cyberspace a place where the internet population create the content and how customers interact on your web site is as important or more important than what you put on the web site yourself. WEB 2.0 has the potential to take email out of the marketing loop entirely. If you retrofit your web site to accommodate the interactive concepts you see used on Wikis, on YouTube and on MySpace, you can create an environment so driven by customers that it is an ideal environment for marketing, for customer communications and for sales. You can use this kind of online community setting to place your sales force in a cyber sales room to casually interact with customers and guide them to purchase decisions in a low key, no pressure way that is just what customers like in an online community. One of the great innovations of the WEB 2.0 approach to web site design is that you can actually link videos or web site pages from other web sites and make them part of your own. Get familiar with the way modern web sites work and interact with your web development gurus so they can guide you in how to use WEB 2.0 methodologies to bring customers to your sales setting rather than having to go to them with email marketing campaigns. And when you have successfully made that transition, you may never have to worry about email deliverability issues again. Word Count 645

A good mailing list for a bad one

A Good Mailing List for a Bad One. If you have ever used a mass mailing email marketing campaign, you know how they promote their services. The appeal is that, in theory, the service has collected a large amount of valid email addresses that they guarantee will go to real potential internet customers. For a fee, they will take your marketing message and broadcast it to that large customer base and the outcome will be that you will see a percentage of those customers visit your web site or respond to the email and from that percentage, a smaller percentage will become paying customers of yours. There are two problems with this marketing model. The first one is that no matter how you dress it up, by buying into that kind of marketing program, you are becoming a spammer. Now, it is bad enough that the explosion of spam in the email world has made life difficult for the average cyber citizen and that those cyber citizens are the human beings you want to turn into your customers. But a by product of spam has also made life a lot harder for you and I, the average internet marketing business person. Life has gotten harder for us because of spam because of the reactionary explosion of spam filtering software being used by internet citizens and ISPs as well and those filtering programs are aggressive and successful which means many of your emails never make it to the customers but disappear into spam holding tanks to eventually be deleted. So because of this fresh problem, email delivery failures have skyrocketed which has seriously harmed the value of email marketing which is what we were hoping to use to prosper our online businesses in the first place. Ironic, isn't it? The second problem with that marketing model is that the large email mailing list that the service brags about is of dubious value. For one thing, you may or may not know how they harvested those emails. The odds that every one of those email addresses is a valid customer email are very low. You have low confidence in that mailing list and the only thing that makes up for that low confidence is the huge number of email addresses that they have on that mailing list. A large mailing list is not a good mailing list if it results in a low percentage of new customers, customers who purchase at low basket totals and customers who do not return for repeat sales. This is why a new marketing model is called for that abandons the mass mailing approach and abandons your participation in spam which only makes you an accessory to the crime. That new marketing model calls for you to look to your existing customer base of clients who are already active users of your products and services and begin to build a much smaller but much higher value email mailing list of customers you actually know and that you know are high volume buyers who come back again and again to buy from you. This approach to building your email list starts at the end, with customers who already fit the profile of what you are looking for and it builds out from there. You can use that solid customer base to then build a larger customer base that will also be loyal customers who will return solid sales to you for your efforts. Through referrals, viral marketing, contests and give aways, you can excite your customer base to share their love of your products and your web site and bring in like minded friends and family members who will then become part of your high quality mailing list as well. Then you repeat the process and build your mailing list slowly over time. This process results in a much smaller mailing list but one that you can be confident that they will respond to your emails. Whereas working with a mass marketing service, you may see a 1% response rate and a 1% sales rate from that response group, you can look for a much higher percentage of response and sales from your high quality email contact list because you already know them and you know they will come back again and again to buy from you. Word Count 723

Take control of the email deliverability problem

Take Control of the Email Deliverability Problem There is something fundamentally wrong about email deliverability being able to get in between your customers and you. Under the old model of internet marketing where online businesses basically did mass mailings to anyone who had an email account, the deliverability problem had a huge impact on the payback you got from using a mass mailing service to send your marketing email out to 10,000 or 100,000 random potential customers. But that old model was never that good in the first place. For one thing, even though the mass mailing services told you they had access to thousands of "valid email addresses", who knows if they really did? But even if they had a low "bounce rate", this scattershot method has never been the most effective form of marketing on or off the internet. Even before internet marketing became a big part of how you do business, a better business model was to build a relationship with a niche market, market to that niche by capitalizing on the relationship and then see a greater return on your marketing investment because the you are working with a client base that has an identifiable need that your product or service addresses. This new model works just as well online. You build your relationships with your client base on your web site using interactive techniques. You establish relationship and trust through the sales and support process. Then with that mailing list of established and "real" customers, you launch your email marketing plan on much firmer footing. But email deliverability continues to be a fly in the ointment because working through public ISPs, you have to jump through the hoops that are there to trap old model spammers just to talk to customers you already know. And if you don't, you will see spam traps and other controls stop you from having access to your established customer community. This kind of restraint of trade, even if unintentional, is unacceptable. So there is good reason to take control of the email deliverability problem. You have the resources to take that control through your mailing list and your online registration of web site members. In that you have a domain, you also have the ability to give your customers an email account on your domain. This is a bold step but by using some technical wizardry, you an automatically give your customers a private email account on your domain with your business domain name that becomes part of their identity. Your customers will love it because it is an email account they can use for anything and you and sweeten the pot by running contests and give aways exclusively through your own private email network. The next step is just to let your customers collect their private emails through their local copy of Microsoft Outlook or whatever email client they use. Your internet technical gurus can come up with a script that can automatically set up the Outlook parameters so the customer can have that up and running in a matter of moments. Presto Chango, your private email network now goes directly to the customers desktop email server. There is no spam because its private. You have 24/7 access to that email account for marketing and because you control that domain completely, email deliverability problems are a thing of the past. So stop jumping through ISP hoops and fighting the mass mailing spam filter wars. Take control by building your niche market and then equipping your niche market to communicate directly with you. Its smart use of technology and you can kiss email delivery problems goodbye. Word Count 611

Start them communicating and keep them communicating

Start Them Communicating and Keep Them Communicating As an internet customer and web surfer, you no doubt have signed up for mailing lists, web site "memberships" or to buy something online and experienced an email verification process. The process is pretty straight foreword and most of us follow the instructions of the web site without giving it much thought… . You sign up to have an ID on the web site. This is a common practice so you can make posts on a web site's message boards or get notifications of changes to the site or news about the web site topics. . You provide the safe information including what nickname you want to use, a password, perhaps your zip code and your email address. Because the web site doesn’t require phone number or address, you don’t mind giving them this information , especially if they post a notice that they will not sell your email on a mailing list. . Once your registration is processed, the web page instructs you that a verification email was sent to assure that the email adders you gave is valid. You are then instructed to go to your email address and find the verification email, open it and click on the link to complete the activation of your membership. . You are obedient and complete those steps and you are done. You might get a "congratulations" email letting you know that you are ready to use your new membership on the web site. Have you ever thought about why the web site owners created this system? It might be to limit the people who can post on their message boards or change their wiki pages. But that probably is not the reason. The real reason is to establish email communications up front to head off any problems with email deliverability issues and to encourage you to add the email address they will be using to contact you to your preferred users list in your spam blocking software so their emails will get through. This technique for overcoming the email deliverability problem is probably one of the best of the current thinking on the problem. That is because the solution is not based on assaulting the machinery in place to handle spam emails. The solution is based in building a relationship with the customer from the ground up. And by starting that relationship out with an enticement, you start them communicating with them via email early on so that channel of communication opens up. However, I have often thought that the web site owners miss a golden opportunity when they guide us through this process. If you are like me, you are happy to go through this verification process because it makes sense. And in a way it makes you feel good that the web site owners want to know you are for real and they give you a chance to opt out during the email verification process. You are in a cooperative and partnering mood with the web site owner which is a business providing you with a product or service, whether you know they are that or not. But the online business that just did such a good job of starting you communicating missed the chance to keep you communicating. Yes, the congratulations email is a nice follow up. But this is s a golden opportunity to start a dialog of communication with each customer that not only keeps that email channel of communications open, it builds that customer relationship so you can exploit it for more sales, greater participation in the web site and for referrals. At that moment when the congratulations email, what if you put a coupon for 15% off a newsletter subscription or from something in the catalog of products? Immediately are drawing the customer to a buying relationship with your internet business. And by drawing them to your sales page, you can market all your goods and services to them as they claim their prize. There are dozens of ways to tease further communications with the close of each successful transaction. You already have the customer's attention when you step them through the email address validation process and you know you have a "hot" email marketing contact point with an active customer. Don’t miss out on using this hot channel to build and expand that relationship and make it bigger and better with each exchange of emails with that customer. Word Count 747

Give the people what they want

Give the People What They Want If you went to your email inbox right now and counted up, you would probably find that you subscribe to at least one if not several email newsletters published by a web site that you enjoy going to from time to time. We like getting email newsletters in the same way we like to subscribe to magazines at home. They are fun, informative, sometimes humorous and they give us perspective on a specialized field of knowledge. So it might not surprise you to learn that the newsletter is one of the most successful forms of internet marketing there is. In fact, it may even have surprised you that a newsletter is a form of internet marketing. But it is a potent way for an online retailer to market his web site and online products or services to a focused customer audience. A newsletter is also an outstanding way to sidestep the problem of failures of email delivery because customers will partner with you to make sure that newsletter gets into their email box. This is a big difference from cold call emails you may have used to use where you send purely marketing emails to customers only to see them get trapped in spam filters and sink to the bottom of spam quarantine folders never to be seen again. A newsletter is a marketing email that your customer wants to see. In fact, most times the customer made an effort to log onto your web site and find the newsletter subscription page to make sure they got on your mailing list. This is a refreshing change to see customers working hard to let you market to them rather than buying software to dump your marketing emails into a spam folder. The reason newsletters are so effective at avoiding email delivery problems is that customers almost always will take the time and effort to be sure to add the sending email address of the newsletter you create for them to their "white list" of preferred email contacts. And because a newsletter can contain from ten to forty percent marketing material, it is like the customer is treating your marketing message like royalty and making sure it gets to them every week. In fact, customers become so used to getting that newsletter that if it did fail to arrive, they would take the initiative to find out why. You don’t have to be a high speed publisher to create a nice newsletter format to use each week. You can buy templates for the newsletter format or use some of the default templates for newsletters that Microsoft Word comes with. But you may want to enlist the aid of your most computer savvy employee to create the newsletter each week because it calls for some patient and artistic layout talents to make it look good. You might think of your newsletter as a web page that you deliver to your customers. It should have interesting and compelling content, just like your web pages do. But there are also plenty of spaces for advertising and promotional pieces that can be used to drive the customer to the web site to make sales. And because it is an e-document, links in the newsletter can immediately transport the customer to the point of purchase on your web site shopping card pages. You can also use the articles you prepare for the newsletter to talk about your products and services in an informative way. By generating interest through text discussion of what you sell, that creates desire to make a purchase as well. You can even use the advertising space in your newsletter to sell to affiliates and partners who want to market to your customers. In that way, the newsletter can be a direct revenue generator even before it serves to guide subscribers to the purchase experience. You may need to take advantage of the writers on your staff to create the content of your newsletter each week. But don’t overlook content that is already at your disposal. Articles, blog entries, discussions on message boards and letters you get asking questions about your products and services are natural article fill to use in your newsletter. Word Count 709

Customers and their isps

Customers and Their ISPs Overcoming the spam filter problem so you can get a higher assurance of email deliverability to your customers is a tricky path to walk. It would be one thing if the end user customer was simply using Microsoft Outlook spam filtering. Under those circumstances, it is the end customer who is determining how to filter emails. And to put it bluntly, the Microsoft Outlook and other local email software spam filters are just not that good. Add to that the fact that your ordinary internet citizen is not interested in becoming a full time spam security artist and the local spam filtering issue comes apart pretty fast. But there is another level of spam filtering that is really making email deliverability a much harder road to travel if you are using cold emails and mass mailings to large groups of customers. That is spam filtering at the ISP level. ISP providers have much greater resources and a much greater motivation to provide sophisticated spam filtering to their customers. The ability to control spam is a major marketing point for any ISP and if the ISP is unable to stop spam before it even reaches the customer, the customer can be easily lured away by a competitor who can get the job done. When you are dealing with some of the biggest ISPs in the world, if you cannot enter into a relationship with that ISP to prove you are a valid internet service and to show that they should not allow their spam blocking software to block you too, you could see hundreds or thousands of your emails die before they even have a chance to go to the customer. So to protect their customer base who for many ISP represents a huge potential marketing audience for you, ISPs will authenticate vendors to weed out the spam artists and phony operators who just want to abuse the trust customers put in their email and internet providers. The first step to getting to a relationship of trust with the major ISPs who control access to your customers is to prove to them that you are a valid internet business. They want to know that you are selling a bona fide product or service, that you have been in business a while and that you will be in business to support your customers after the sale. These are not unreasonable requirements to be allowed to use the email box of potentially thousands of email customers. The second level of authentication that each ISP will require has to do with your integrity in the use of email as a marketing tool. It doesn’t take a lot of examples to demonstrate that email marketing is one of the most abused forms of business communications since the carnival barker. ISPs want to know you are not going to run scams through email to its customers and that you are going to treat customers with respect in regards to how you use your marketing privileges if they are granted. The process of gaining approval is one you can learn about by entering into a dialog with one of the major ISPs through whom you hope to send marketing emails. In general, the process will be the same for most ISPs after that. So once you have walked through the process with one ISP, not only will you know the ropes but you will have the approval of that first internet business entity to show to the rest and your reputation will begin to grow with subsequent applications. So be patient and give this process proper care and attention because the payoffs of gaining the trust of the major ISPs in the industry can be huge. Word Count 627

Get white listed

Get White Listed Handling spam is not something that is a mystery to anyone who uses email regularly. It is almost out of the question for anyone to operate a computer on the internet and not have some form of spam protection software working to catch bad emails and delete them or trap them to a quarantine folder. But if you have worked with any of the popular spam protection software packages, you know those services have to be "trained" to know what is spam and what is not. Probably the most common method for determining spam is by email address. So when you installed your spam protection software, the first thing it will do is import your address book and build a list of email addresses that you will allow into your inbox without question. This favored contacts list is one you will manage and update regularly as you add new contacts both personal and professional. From a merchant perspective, one of the most prized lists that online retailer can hope to get on is the customers favored user list. This is because once a customer flags an online merchant that they are allowed to send the customer emails without question, that customer becomes an A-list candidate for specials, discounts, special sales and other marketing methods that the online merchant may use to encourage sales. From a retailer point of view then, one of the top methods for avoiding email delivery problems is to "get white listed" by your customers so you can exchange emails with them freely and often. The theory behind how to get white listed is not complicated but the methods can get pretty creative. The theory is very simple. You have to make the customer want to see your emails. How to do that opens up all kinds of marketing ploys to appeal to the customer to invite you into your email inbox as often as you wish to show up. The first opportunity you have to entice the customer to add you to their favored contacts list is when you do an email verification of membership when they first sign on to be a regular part of your web site "community". But event then, one rule applies universally for how to get customers to want to see your emails. You have to convince them that there is something in it for them. To create value that you will deliver to the customer's email box from time to time, you just have to know what the customer wants. Discounts and coupons are very popular items that customers will often seek out. When the customer opts in to become a part of your web site community, you can take that opportunity to solicit the customer about special offers, discounts and coupons. Few of us can resist a good deal so when the customer signs on to get those offers, that is the time to remind them that all they have to do is add you to their favored contacts list in their spam software to make sure those "once in a lifestyle" deals don’t go into the spam graveyard on their computer. Other "goodies" you can use to entice customers to add you to their favored contacts list are newsletters, autoresponder courses, ezines and give aways. If you notice a customer is a regular contributor to one of the blogs on your web site, offer to email to him or her each new blog entry. To see the latest ramblings on that blog, that customer will eagerly add the email address to their favored contacts list and you have accomplished your goal. Now every one of these marketing tools we have mentioned have additional sales potential in them as well. Newsletters that deliver regular entertainment and education to your customers also can carry advertising for your products or advertising that other merchants pay to include in your newsletter. Many online merchants have developed a large secondary income source when their newsletter became suddenly very popular with a large circulation. So put some work into these marketing tools because they could take your business in an entirely new direction. Word Count 696

Making your customers feel special

Making Your Customers Feel Special The idea of marketing to a specialized niche of very active customers and then using that base to recruit in a viral way is new to the internet but one that goes way back in the non internet world of marketing. It is well known that if you create an elite group of dedicated customers, they will become a recruitment army for your business and become your marketing team that works for free without even knowing they are doing so. This approach to marketing is not as focused on email communications as many of our internet marketing efforts were ten years ago. But that is a good thing for two reasons. The first reason is that dynamic marketing, meaning selling through a relationship model is far more effective and yields a higher per sale basket total as well as a much higher incidence of repeat sales than cold call selling and it is far less frustrating. The second reason is that using email as the backbone of your sales program has become more and more problematic because of the influence of spam and spam filters which have made the free flow of marketing emails much more difficult to manage. Because spam filtering has become so aggressive and so successful, email delivery of marketing material is harder to do and takes a greater investment of time and ongoing knowledge that pulls you away from your customers and from your businesses. So the migration to dynamic selling and away from cold call and mass marketing email techniques is a natural evolution of the internet marketing model in the new century. So the online experience of your customer takes on a greater importance in your marketing plan. But you will find that devoting more time and money to building a web "place" that your customers participate in actively will be far more rewarding than any scattershot approach to email marketing could ever be even before the eruption of spam which made email delivery such a nightmare. One way to give your customers the feel of being part of your organization is to build a specialized membership area of your web site that customers must make an extra effort to become part of. In fact, many online retailers actually charge a small fee to be part of this membership site. That is effective because the fee gives your members the sensation of being part of a closed community and the revenue is good for your cash flow. Your customers who chose to become part of the membership area of your web site should get some special privileges and rewards for their elevated status. So you might create a discount card that creates a desire to spend more in your online store only for those customers who are part of the elite membership area. Your customers will think they are getting something very special when in fact, all you are doing is exchanging a small part of your mark up for greater volume of sales which is always a good trade off for you as a retailer. One of the big values of creating a membership area is that those who populate that membership can become part of the team to make contributions about future product or service offerings. This is tremendously valuable to your development teams because the more you "pick the brains" of your customers, the more you will offer products or services that are going to be a success when they hit the market. You will see a greater sense of brand loyalty grow out of the people who enjoy exclusive membership in your reserved area of your web site. Make it a point to make that part of the site look elegant and luxurious. Its all just graphics but in cyberspace, graphics have a reality all their own. And don't take your eye off of the goal of using the membership area for recruitment of new customers through referrals or to take marginal customers and make them devotees as well. A few gift memberships can go a long way toward accomplishing those goals. Word Count 691

Selling and teaching via email

Selling and Teaching via Email Probably the most reliable way to get around the problem of email delivery problems is to shift the desire for communications from the merchant, which is you, to the customer. By turning the tables so the customer wants your emails, the customer will take the steps to white list your email sending address to make sure he or she gets every single email you send. And the best way to create that desire is to give them something of value in their email each week. People come to the internet for many things including entertainment, discussion, free stuff and diversion. But one of the most common things that people want is knowledge. Yo have a specialized knowledge you can offer to your customers that will not only benefit them but it can be used as a marketing tool to open communications to your customers email inboxes in a far more effective way than any blind email or mass mailing could ever do. There are several ways to offer training courses online including ebooks or videos. But what is most effective for the sake of opening a long lasting communication channel to your customers is an email course in which you step by step lay out your specialized knowledge about your field of expertise over a period of twelve to fifteen installments. Sometimes this kind of offering is called an autoresponder series because the function of an autoresponder software package can be helpful with distribution of the e-course. An autoresponder is a specialized service or type of software that either automatically responds to events or emails by sending out a response email or it can be used to generate email traffic on a schedule. So you can use an autoresponder to send the next installment of your email course to those who "subscribe" to it and know that it will go out without fail on the appointed day. Now probably the biggest challenge of offering an autoresponder email course is how to create the course. Few of us are writers and while you may have the knowledge, you may have trouble composing that knowledge in the form of a course. There are a couple of ways to solve this problem… . You could hire a ghostwriter to compose the course for you. . You could speak the course contents into a tape recorder and then have it transcribed into a written course that could be sent to customers in short email installments. . You could even have a friend "interview" you to draw that specialized knowledge out of you. The interviews could be fairly free form and then you could take the transcriptions of the interviews and organize them by topic into an e-course to offer your customers. Once you have the contents laid out, don’t publish the course until you look it over to see where in the outlines you can integrate marketing messages. Many of the products or services you offer as part of your business are directly related to your specialized knowledge. So by including links to your shopping cart pages or to web pages that can lead customers to purchase decisions, the course is both instructional and useful for promoting your web site and sales as well. The next step is to get the course into the hands of your users. The first candidates to become "students" are the active cyber citizens who spend a lot of time on your web site. So look at the regular posters on your message boards and blogs or citizens of a chat room on your site or contributors to your wiki and open conversations with them about offering a course. You can also create multiple ways to allow your customers to subscribe to the course series. An online sign up is always a good choice because you can harvest their email address there and then open communications to their email and see to it that your business email is added to their favored contacts spam filter list so they do not see the courses disappear into their spam bucket each week. As the customer enjoys learning from your series, the added benefit of getting them used to an active interaction with you and your web site is put in place. And the course can be viral to be passed along to friends and family members so it recruits new customers as well. Word Count 741

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