How to Make Money From Direct Targeted Email Marketing

Email is a powerful thing and if you know what you’re doing direct targeted email marketing can make you a lot of money. But take a look at your spam folder. Notice anything different?

If it’s anything like mine, you’ll have noticed a marked drop in the number of tempting offers for those little blue ‘enhancement’ pills… fake diplomas… lottery scams and yes, even the beloved Nigerian scam.

Have the spammers decided to call it a day?

Alas, no.

Why legitimate businesses can learn from spammers and make money from direct targeted email marketing

The closure of McColo – a web hosting firm that is believed to have had spam gangs as clients – has led to a 70% reduction in junk mail. According to the BBC, “it is believed that it hosted gangs running botnets – networks of computers that have been taken over by criminals to send malicious software and spam.”

Enjoy it while it lasts… because they will be back! Analysts expect spam will return to previous levels by the end of November as the spammers find a new host.

But I really don’t know why they bother. Another report out this week revealed that spammers were getting a response rate of less than 0.00001%! In other words, they would have to send out 12.5 million emails for every sale!

Is it really worth it? Well, yes.

The recent study saw scientists act as spammers themselves by hijacking an existing spam network. While running their undercover spam campaigns the researchers sent 469 million junk e-mail messages. The vast majority of these were for a fake pharmacy which mimicked the spammer’s version. However it always returned an error message when potential buyers clicked a button to submit their credit card details.

“After 26 days, and almost 350 million e-mail messages, only 28 sales resulted,” wrote the researchers. “Taken together, these conversions would have resulted in revenues of $2,731.88-a bit over $100 a day for the measurement period,” they added.

$100 a day! Hardly worth risking jail for is it? But hold on, this was just a small test. The researchers estimate that the controllers of the entire system they had hijacked are netting about $7,000 (4,430) a day or more than $2m (1.28m) per year.

Now it’s looking a bit more attractive, but really not that much compared to people who are using email marketing ethically and legally.

So why don’t they just come clean? Perhaps there should be an amnesty for spammers? We should allow them to leave the dark side and move into legitimate business and share their experience and skills.

Spammers have a lot going for them…

They are technically advanced and smart enough to keep ahead of the authorities, ISPs and spam filters. They can think creatively – I mean some of those subject lines are irresistible!

Just think what they could bring to a legitimate information publishing business? They could easily make $2 million per year…

- They wouldn’t need to send out millions of unsolicited emails as their response rates to a opt-in list could be anywhere from 2% – 30%. In fact they could make good money from a list as small as 1,000. Remember my email last week when I told you how Jon Street had made over 30,000 in one weekend with just 670 names! I don’t normally blow my email trumpet, but earlier this year I brought in 1,510,000 in 2 weeks from a list of around 15,000.

- They wouldn’t have to grub around with dodgy scams, pills or diplomas – they could actually help people to solve their problems. And if they promoted good quality products they would inevitably have plenty of glowing testimonials from people who have benefited.

And who knows, the spammers could really redeem themselves by using their expertise to change history! Seriously, email has the power to change entire nations, economies and even stop wars…

I’m getting a bit evangelical now…but I truly believe that email cannot only provide anyone with a money-making opportunity, but it can actually change the course of history!

Consider US President elect, Barack Obama. The success of his election campaign can partly be attributed to the use of email marketing!

On the night of his election win, he sent out 70 million emails to people who had signed up on his website thanking them for making history! Far more significantly is the amount of money the Obama campaign was able to generate in contributions. In September he raised $112 million online!

According to a recent Sunday Times article; “The web spearheaded a new way of fundraising, identifying volunteers and – most of all – accumulating contact details for millions of converts to the Obama surge.”

He was able to bypass traditional media and go straight to people’s inboxes with personal messages.

Obama’s website also moves beyond just email marketing to use social networking (it’s no accident that one of Facebook’s founders joined the Obama campaign early on).

Ok, so I’m not suggesting you run for political office, but you can see how powerful the legitimate use of emails can be!

Direct Traffic is Golden, SEO Traffic is a Bonus

In a website statistics tool like Google Analytics, direct traffic, literally, refers to website visitors who actually typed your website or blog address right into the address bar of their Internet browser.

Direct traffic is pretty special. It means someone remembered the URL of my website and used it specifically when they were looking for help with writing or editing.

Next, Google Analytics tracks traffic from referring sites, which is also very special. When a visitor has come from a referring site, it means that someone thinks enough of my work to include a link to my site from their website or blog, or maybe they’ve even sent the link in a direct email message to a client, colleague, friend or family member.

Or maybe the referral came out of my article marketing efforts at sites like Ezine Articles. Someone read one of my articles and liked my ideas enough to find out more about what I offer.

Direct traffic and traffic from referral sites both represent people who have already warmed up to the idea of finding out more about you. That’s much different from just having your website pop up in a list of search results.

I really like what Rick Spence writes in the June 2008 issues of Profit magazine, “… the Web isn’t always about the masses. For many niche businesses, Web marketing means drawing your best customers closer and closer.”

So do what you can to keep search engine optimization (SEO) on your side – write a lot of fresh content, and write for your niche by using the language they’ll use when they’re looking for information and help.

Then, turn your attention back to cultivating your relationships, because that’s what will send direct traffic and referring site traffic your way.

Writing Prompt: How can you greet your website visitors as if they’ve all come as direct traffic or from referral sites? How can you treat strangers (search engine traffic) like friends?

P.S. There are also such things as human search engines (Mahalo) and social bookmarking sites (del.icio.us), both of which allow Web users to access search results that are based on human entries versus computer-generated ones.

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Launching a Direct Mail Campaign

Thinking about launching a direct mail (DM) marketing campaign to promote your business? Before you get started, here are some questions to ask to help you be more prepared.

Who is my target audience?

Who are you going to be sending your DM out to? Do you have a mailing list? What kind of customers are you targeting? Make a list of their characteristics and demographics. How much money do they make? How old are they? Where do they live? Male or female? What interests do they have?

The better you understand your target audience, the more personalized you can make your DM pieces, leading to higher response rates.

What action do I want them to take?

Direct mail marketing success depends on your ability to get your audience to take action. For some ads, you will want the reader to take action by making a purchase right now. Other DM ads might encourage the consumer to go to a web address listed on the ad to learn more about your offer.

Every ad needs a call to action. If you’re not encouraging the recipient to take action, they’re not going to do anything and your ad will be wasted. You may as well just flush your money down the toilet.

Identify the action you want people to take, and make sure your call to action is clear and jumps off the page.

What’s my budget?

You need to know exactly how much you can afford to spend on DM before launching your campaign. If you have a marketing budget, how much of it will you set aside for direct mail marketing? Are you going to spread out your spending throughout the year or dump it into a single campaign right now?

Once you set your budget, stick to it. Figure out how can get the most from that budget without sacrificing the quality of your DM marketing.

How will I track results?

If you’re not tracking the results of your direct mail marketing, you’re wasting your money because you have no way of knowing what’s working and what needs to be improved. You have to set goals, test different adjustments to your marketing materials, and track your results.

Over time, you’ll collect more and more data on your DM marketing campaigns, providing you with valuable information that helps you optimize your efforts to get a better return on your investment.

Which direct mail company should I use?

Finding the right DM company is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning your campaign. Not all direct mail companies are the same. The services they offer, fees they charge, and level of satisfaction they provide varies.

Spend time researching the different direct mail companies by performing a simple search online. Look for companies with years of experience, a wide portfolio of services, and competitive prices. You also want to look at examples of their work to make sure it’s professional and will reflect your brand in a positive way.

By asking yourself these questions before starting your direct mail campaign, you’ll have a great plan for success.