IQ News: Connect

As the president, CEO and founder of e2 Communications, a Dallas-based e-mail marketing company, Jeffrey Farris understands the ABCs of building online relationships via consumers’ e-mail boxes. Here, he offers tips to businesses looking to capitalize on the craze without being labeled a sender of spam.–Ann M. Mack

IQ: Why should a company launch an e-mail campaign?
Jeffrey Farris: E-mail works better than any other medium. It is a cost-effective way to send information out in a timely manner, produce a qualified audience and follow-up with that audience. Making phone calls to 10,000 people, only to produce 500 interested consumers, is cost prohibitive. Whereas, with e-mail marketing, a company can take 10,000 unique names and turn them into 500 highly qualified prospects in a fairly cost-efficient way.
Also, e-mail campaigns are consumer-friendly. Consumers read e-mail messages on their own terms and time, so they shouldn’t feel imposed upon. The marketer doesn’t interrupt their vacation or their dinner.

IQ: What is a company’s main concern when launching an e-mail campaign?
Jeffrey Farris: From a business standpoint, companies need to think about content and timeliness. If you are an electronics company and you give out information about books, that’s not content appropriate. If you send out information two months after a consumer requested it, that’s not timely.

IQ: What do companies need to do, so their messages are not misidentified as spam?
Jeffrey Farris: A lot trails back to common sense. Think of an e-mail address as a person. Do not abuse relationships. Obtain permission and retain permission. Marketers need to be respectful of people’s privacy or they might shoot themselves in the foot.
Respect customer data. Put an opt-out option in the e-mail. Also, offer e-mail sign-up and sign-off in a prominent place on your Web site.

IQ: What is the future of e-mail marketing?
Jeffrey Farris: E-mail marketing is not going to replace print ads or phone calls, but it will complement these marketing methods. E-mail marketing will evolve from a bulk e-mail system to a more refined one. It will open doors to a lot of opportunities.