WEB REVIEW: Is e-mail marketing the answer for you?

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If you're running a business, there's a good chance you've been frustrated with marketing. You've spent time and money on ads here and there, but the results were unpredictable-or worse-questionable. You're in the phone book because you feel you have to be, but the cost goes up year after year. Word of mouth works, but it's too slow. Direct mail works, but it's too expensive. Radio and TV are difficult to do well and nearly impossible to track for results.

I talked with a CEO recently who was complaining that his radio and television ads produced no measurable results. When he complained to the ad agency, its people suggested he buy more spots. Is that the answer, when all you want is accountability, measurable results and control? E-mail gives you all three, with one added benefit: it's affordable.

With e-mail, you control the message, the frequency, the delivery ... You become the steward of your own branding, the gatekeeper of your campaign. If you have something you want your customers to know today, you can tell them today. The immediacy of e-mail is unmatched by other marketing efforts.

Each message you send can be personalized for the recipient, and the personalization isn't limited to calling them by name. Your messages can be tailored around order history, personal preferences, geography ... whatever element you deem important. The age of one-to-many marketing has drawn to a close. The age of one-to-one marketing is dawning, and email is the tool that has made it possible.

There is no other marketing medium that offers the power, flexibility, accountability, ease of use and affordability of email. Nothing else even comes close.

The evolution of e-mail as a marketing medium has followed a path similar to that of Web development. The first Web sites were created by "geeks" who were playing with some new possibilities. Not long after, the first Web-development companies were born and had one thing in common: building a Web site was prohibitively expensive.

Once the technology trickled down, however, Web developers were suddenly competing for work with sons, daughters, students-it seemed everyone with a computer was suddenly building Web sites. This period couldn't (and didn't) last, as the competitors priced themselves out of business with nothing to differentiate their work from everyone else.

The good companies-those who understood marketing, customer service, the Web, application and interface design-prospered. They understood how to differentiate themselves and their services from the competition.

E-mail marketing is following a nearly identical path. Those first to market offered expensive and complex tools, essentially creating a barrier to entry for small businesses. Then, almost overnight, it was as if everyone offered a product to help you communicate with your customers. Prices have come down, to be sure, but buyers are left with a dizzying array of choices to sort through.

The key for business owners is to concentrate on the value offered by the product and the knowledge and expertise of the company. Because only the best companies will survive. If you're looking for someone to help you with your e-mail campaign, seek out a company that can demonstrate a firm grasp on the issues at hand and show you a proven track record of success.

Cota is creative director of Rare Bird Inc., a full-service advertising agency specializing in the use of new technologies. His column appears monthly. He can be reached at jim@rarebirdinc.com.

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  1. I had read earlier this spring that Noodles & Co was going to open in the Fishers Marketplace (which is SR 37 and 131st St, not 141st St, just FYI). Any word on that? Also, do you happen to know what is being built in Carmel at Pennsylvania and Old Meridian? May just be an office building but I'm not sure.

  2. I'm sorry, but you are flat out wrong. There are few tracks in the world with the history of IMS and probably NO OTHER as widely known and recognized. I don't care what you think about the stat of Indy Car racing, these are pretty hard things to dispute.

  3. Also wondering if there is an update on the Brockway Pub-Danny Boy restaurant/taproom that was planned for the village as well?

  4. Why does the majority get to trample on the rights of the minority? You do realize that banning gay marriage does not rid the world of gay people, right? They are still going to be around and they are still going to continue to exist. The best way to get it all out of the spotlight? LEGALIZE IT! If gay marriage is legal, they will get to stop trying to push for it and you will get to stop seeing it all over the news. Why do Christians get to decide what is moral?? Why do you get to push your religion on others? How would legalizing gay marriage expose their lifestyle to your children? By the way, their lifestyle is going to continue whether gay marriage is legalized or not. It's been legal in Canada for quite a while now and they seem to be doing just fine. What about actual rules handed down by God? What about not working on Sundays? What about obeying your parents? What about adultery? These are in the 10 Commandments, the most important of God's rules. Yet they are all perfectly legal. What about divorce? Only God is allowed to dissolve a marriage so why don't you work hard to get divorce banned? Why do you get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible you care about?

  5. Look at the bright side. With the new Lowe's call center, that means 1000 jobs at $10 bucks an hour. IMS has to be drooling over all that disposable income. If those employees can save all their extra money after bills, in five years they can go to the race LIVE. Can you say attendance boost?