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Abbie's Column : Internet Marketing


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The Politicians are coming! The Politicians are coming!

By Abbie Drew
Nov 2, 2006

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It’s election time and political campaigners are out in force. Honestly, every day I receive at least 3 recorded telephone call, see at least 5 TV commercials (and that’s just in the 1 hour of TV I watch), hear multiple radio ads, get one daily direct mail piece and drive by multitudes of lawn signs.

Amazingly, the only place I am not overwhelmed by politics is online.

But that too is about to change.

A recent study by the E-Voter Institute shows that the majority of politicians currently spend little or nothing online, (under 5% of their budgets). But in 2008, 92% of politicians expect to spend between 1% and 50%. And by 2016 the majority will spend at least 20%, with 18% spending over 50% of their budgets online.

Can you guess where online the money will be spent?

The politicians surveyed by the E-Voter Institute said web sites and emails are the most effective tools for not only persuading swing voters but also for reaching out to their loyal base. What’s more they’ve discovered that online ads are most effective when used to collect new email addresses.

Yes, the politicians are coming to realize what we all know – email is truly a phenomenal marketing channel. When you consider why email is so powerful when combined with a web presence for politicians you quickly see why it works for any marketer.

Here are the 3 reasons:

1) People are online already looking for information.

An August Pew Internet & American Life Project study found that on an average summer day 26 million Americans are online looking for political information. This number has more than doubled from 2002. Politicians see these numbers and know to be competitive they have to have their message available online.

They further understand that Internet users crave information and if they do not supply their constituents with the information they seek they’ll look elsewhere. As a result, to be effective politicians must always update their web sites with the latest news and resources about themselves and issues effecting their constituents.

In addition, keeping in touch with constituents by email and providing notices of new information further solidifies and strengthens their relationship.

Politicians are going online and sharing information because that is what their constituents are looking for them to do.

For a small business the same principles apply to you as to the politicians. Your consumers are online looking for informative content.

Your job as a marketer is to provide quality information to your target audience. If you have interesting content then traffic will come to your site to see it. Once visitors are at your site to view your content, you then can proceed to sell your wares to those visitors.

You use email to keep in touch with your prospects and customers. Email is an ideal notification vehicle to let the Internet using public know you have the content they crave! Use email to send out notices about new content and offerings on your site and you will drive more traffic to it.


2) Email is a personal, push marketing promotion.

Why have politicians found that the most effective advertising promotions collect the email addresses of their prospects?

Because when you collect the email address of a prospect rather then simply advertise a web site you gain 3 advantages.

* Email goes directly to the constituent. You don’t have to wait for the constituent to come back to your web site to hear about your latest news. You can email the latest news to him/her.

* Email allows you to follow-up. A web site visit is typically a one time occurrence. The visitor is in and out with no follow-up. Being able to follow-up on the other hand lets you build a relationship and have a greater impact on your constituents.

* Email is personal. When you can collect an email address, you now contact your constituent in the same manner that friends and family talk to him/her. What’s more you can also input your constituent’s name into your email, personalizing and strengthening your marketing message.

These 3 advantages of email are just as true for a small business marketing its wares. To get the highest return on your advertising investment be sure your marketing promotions focus on collecting the email addresses of your prospects. And then follow-up!


3) Email is popular.

Email is the number one online activity of Internet users. People check and read their email regularly.

Politicians have found that their constituents use email more than any other tool to actively share information. The E-Voter Institute study found over 40% of voters either sent and/or received email from friends and family about politics. And close to 35% used email to contact either a candidate or politicians about their concerns.

Politicians see that their constituents are using email to virally spread their political information. They are taking the next obvious step by sending more information to their constituents via email.

Email makes communication easy for both politicians and their constituents. As a result more and more politicians will be using email in the coming elections.

Your small business gains the same advantages with your prospects and customers when you send promotional and informative email. You share your marketing message in a medium users like. You also are making it simple for your prospects and customers to forward on your information. (They just need to click the “Forward” button and send on your message.)

Email is an incredibly easy and effective way to encourage word of mouth marketing. I expect you get forwarded emails from family and friends with interesting info, funny jokes, neat products, etc.. When your business sends out valuable email it too may be forwarded on to others.

The critical point to recognize with your email marketing is the importance of sending valuable, interesting content. If your email is dull or shares nothing worthwhile it will quickly be discarded.

With the new realization by politicians about the effectiveness of email, it is going to become even more essential that your business marketing messages stand out.

Why?

Politicians are exempt from the CAN-SPAM Act. That means politicians can send out as much email as they’d like and they do not need to include any removal links.

I shudder at the thought of the politicians getting a hold of my email address. They already have my phone number and call numerous times a day, I can’t imagine how much email they’ll send me if they have that contact information. And no mandatory “OFF” switch exists. Yikes!

Yes, in 2008 there may be a political email flood. But businesses using responsible email practices, sending out valuable information will continue to find email is an effective, profitable marketing tool.

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Abbie Drew
DEMC Editor



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