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To get the most out of advertising, don't underestimate cyberspace. Here is how you can use it in your advertising efforts.

E-mail Marketing

E-mail marketing is one of the most effective ways to keep in touch with customers. It is generally cost-effective, and if done properly, can help build brand awareness and loyalty. At a typical cost of only a few cents per message, it's a bargain compared to traditional direct mail at $1 or more per piece. In addition, response rates on e-mail marketing are strong, ranging from 5 to 35%. Response rates for traditional mail average in the 1-3% range.

One of the benefits of e-mail marketing is the demographic information that customers provide when signing up for your email newsletter. Discovering who your customers are – age, gender, income and special interests, for example – can help you target your products and services to their needs. Points to consider when creating your e-mail newsletter:

  • HTML vs. Plain Text: Response rates for HTML newsletters are generally much higher than plain text, and graphics and colors tend to make the publications look far more professional. The downside is that HTML e-mail is slower to download, and some e-mail providers may screen out HTML e-mail.
  • Provide incentive to subscribe: Advertise the benefits of receiving your newsletter to get customers to sign up for your newsletter, such as helpful tips, informative content or early notification of special offers or campaigns.
  • Don't just sell: Many studies suggest that e-mail newsletters are read more carefully when they offer information that is useful to the customers' lives rather than only selling products and services. Helpful tips, engaging content and humor are often expected to accompany e-mail newsletters.
  • Limit questions: Each demographic question you ask may reduce the number of customers signing up, so limit the amount of information you require or give customers the option of skipping the questionnaire.

Establishing a Web Presence

No matter if you choose to sell your goods or services online or not, a business web site can be a virtual marketing brochure that you can update easily and often with little or no cost. Your presence on the Internet can be a useful marketing tool by providing richer pre-sale information or post-sale support and service. This may differentiate your product or service from your competitors'.

Today's business emphasis is on e-commerce - rapid electronic interactions enabled by the Internet and other connected computer and telephone networks. Rapidly business transactions and unparallelled access to information is changing consumer behavior and expectations.

Many small businesses assume that the Internet has little value to them because they feel that their product or service cannot be easily sold online. But inexpensive information processing and electronic media can help most small businesses provide better and faster customer service and communication.

By USBA (United States Small Business Administration)


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