Autoresponder Software, Keyword Tools, Low Cost Web Hosting, Small Business March 18th. 2010, 6:27am
Even a cheap web hosting package often includes an email autoresponder. Shortly after setting up your new online business, you are poised and ready to dive into email marketing. Before you do, though, take some time to consider the image you want to present. Both what you say, and what you don’t say, in your marketing speaks volumes to your customers about what kind of business you’re running.
There’s a wonderful moment on the Seinfeld TV series when a long distance plan salesman calls Seinfeld at home. Seinfeld asks the salesman for his home phone number, promising to call the salesman at home later. When the salesman objects that he doesn’t want Seinfeld bothering him at home, Seinfeld replies, “Now you know how I feel!” The audience went wild.
Being bothered at home by long distance telephone services had become such a common annoyance that the audience identified deeply with the Seinfeld joke. Less funny was the ensuing new body of U.S. federal regulations severely limiting the activities of telephone solicitors. Later would come similar legislation aimed at email spam: the U.S. federal CAN-SPAM Act.
If you feel a little bit offended, that’s understandable. The marketing you send out through your email auto responder is certainly not spam!
Believe it or not, legislators know that, too. One of the chief benefits of spam regulation—by governments or by internet service providers—is that it makes it easier to ensure that your honest advertising efforts are never accidentally confused with spam.
That’s something you should be on-board with. You want to present a friendly, trustworthy, and professional image to your customers, and email that looks like spam won’t do that. Your marketing represents you. It needs to look, and feel, just as good as your web page, your logo, and everything else associated with your business. It should even include the same language—the same keywords you got from your keyword selector tool—for a consistent company image.
Keeping on the good side of the CAN-SPAM Act is simple. Even if you are not located in the U.S., it’s something you need to take note of. That’s because many of your customers may be receiving email in the States, much international email passes through servers located in the States, and, finally, because the CAN-SPAM Act uses standards that are commonly accepted. In other words, other spam regulations that you may run into elsewhere are likely to cover much of the same ground as the CAN-SPAM Act. So, if you’re already conforming to those standards, you should be in pretty good shape.
(This does not release you, by the way, from checking on your own about any spam regulation that may apply to your individual case. Your web hosting company and your internet service provider are great places to start asking for information.)
Frankly, the things you have to do to satisfy the CAN-SPAM Act are simple, common-sense items that you should be doing anyway as a responsible professional and as a nice person.
Is your email subject line relevant to the body of the message? Does the body of the email message include a real, physical address for your business? Is there a clearly labeled button or link to opt-out of further messages from you? If so, you’re pretty much good to go.
Considering these issues should get you thinking about other aspects of your marketing, as well. Continue to put yourself in the position of your customers, and continue asking yourself whether you are creating marketing materials that people want to bring into their homes—or onto their computer desktops.