What's the Value of an E-mail Address?
Although it may not be practical to put a dollar-sign value on an e-mail address there are many financially-savvy reasons to start collecting e-mail addresses if you haven't already begun. If you have, keep reading for a few more tips on e-mail address collection at the end of this article.
Communicating by e-mail has a number of benefits:
1. Quick response -- You'll be able to measure the effectiveness of your message in about 48 hours, which also means if you are asking for donations to a non-profit organization or selling something online you'll have money in-hand sooner than you would with direct mail.
2. Learn something -- A content strategy that tracks the recipient's activity within the message will teach you something about their interests.
3. More affordable -- E-mail allows you to communicate for pennies per message instead of the dollars per message it costs to send direct mail.
4. Better results -- Response rates to e-mail communications are often better than traditional direct mail.
5. Segment & strategize -- The technology available to deliver thousands of e-mail messages at a time also enables you to segment groups and target specific groups of people with a message just for them.
6. It's the culture -- Most professionals who work at a desk every day (and many who don't) are accustomed to using e-mail as a regular form of communication. According to the 2004 Pew Internet & American Life Project, 93% of online Americans use e-mail.
The e-mail addresses you have already collected, just like mailing addresses, are most valuable when they belong to the people who are connected and informed participants in your organization. Many organizations who consider "buying" an e-mail list will soon learn that their money will be wasted on strangers because their best prospects are the ones who are already acquainted with the good work you do. Therefore, it is worth the effort to cultivate your current list and do all you can to acquire their e-mail addresses and their permission to communicate with them by e-mail.
How to collect e-mail addresses:
1. Provide a subscription form on the front page of your website and then give them something to subscribe to: an e-mail newsletter, weekly tips, articles, resources, etc.
2. Remind people to subscribe to your e-mail newsletter in the signature of every person-to-person e-mail message you send out. Have every employee and volunteer do the same.
3. Instruct your staff and volunteers to keep this "top of mind" -- ALWAYS ask for an e-mail address: in person, on incoming and outgoing phone calls, visitors, events, etc.
4. Include a line for "e-mail address" on every return-reply mailing, including event RSVPs.
5. Determine a method for collection ANYTIME you are face-to-face with donors. Don't forget events that have volunteer sign-in sheets, raffle ticket sales or silent auction bids/purchases.
6. Implement a "forward-to-a-friend" strategy and consider offering an incentive for people who send multiple forwards.
Merritt Olsen is a freelance writer and marketing consultant specializing in online and e-mail marketing. Need unique content for your e-mail newsletter that you can't find here? Merritt has the experience and the savvy to write about a variety of topics and can be reached through www.tomorrowsdonor.com.
Copyright © 2004 Merritt Olsen & The Pursuant Group. Permission is granted to reprint this article in print or on your website so long as the paragraph above is included and contact information is provided to www.pursuantgroup.com.
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