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Tips for Your First e-Mail Promotion

Your current subscribers are a captive audience for your e-mail promotions--so plan them well.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Q: I normally include ads for my products in my monthly newsletter, but I'm thinking about e-mailing a standalone product promotion to my newsletter subscribers. Is this a good idea? I'm worried this will seem too pushy.

A: Yes, it's a good idea, and, no, it won't seem too pushy! Need proof? A recent DoubleClick report found that 78 percent of people surveyed said they wanted to receive e-mail from their favorite online merchants. And eMarketer found that 67 percent of U.S. consumers liked companies who, in their opinion, did a good job with permission e-mail . So you don't need to worry about offending your customers with your promotion--provided you follow a few simple guidelines.

First things first: If you want your e-mail promotion to succeed, you need to make sure that it looks professional, and this means proofreading your e-mail at least three times before sending it to your subscribers. Have a friend or co-worker check it out as well. If you send an e-mail full of spelling mistakes, it will cost you sales and could permanently damage your credibility.

Next, send a test version of the message to yourself. You should sign up for a free e-mail account with Yahoo! and Hotmail, and include these accounts in your test mailing. If you have a friend or family member with an account, send them a copy, too. The point here is to catch any formatting errors that might show up in the different e-mail programs. Believe me, you'll be surprised how often you find them!

And now for the most important part. Before you send out any promotion, ask yourself, "How relevant is this offer to my subscribers?" If your promotion doesn't answer this question immediately, you have some work to do.

Don't assume that your subscribers will automatically see why your e-mail promotion is relevant to them--you need to spell it out. Explain in detail how your product can help them and why now is the time to buy. Two of the most effective ways to highlight the relevance of your offer are:

  1. Put a strong emphasis on benefits. Let's say you sell skin-care products. You need to highlight the benefit to the customer (it gives you younger-looking skin) rather than the features (it contains 12 different moisturizers). Can you see how the benefit-centered statement is much easier to identify with than the feature-centered one?
  2. Make your offer exclusive. Tailor your promotion so that it's exclusive to the people who receive it, then give them a strong reason to act immediately. You should let your subscribers know that this offer is only being made available to them and that it will only be available for a limited time.

One final word of advice: Since this is your first e-mail promotion, you will definitely want to feature one of your most popular products. This is no time to try to unload old inventory or blow out last year's models. If you write an e-mail that gives people a good reason to buy one of your best-selling products, you can guarantee yourself a fantastic response!

Corey Rudl, president and founder of the Internet Marketing Center, is the author of the best-selling courseInsider Secrets to Marketing Your Business on the Internet. An internationally sought-after Internet business consultant and speaker, Corey focuses his energy on the research and development of practical, cost-effective Internet marketing strategies and software for the small and homebased business owner.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.

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