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Email Advertising

Get your business off the ground by learning about email advertising.

Email advertising has largely replaced traditional snail mail advertising campaigns. [©Jupiter Images, 2009]
©Jupiter Images, 2009
Email advertising has largely replaced traditional snail mail advertising campaigns.

Email advertising is the current trend of modifying direct mail campaigns for use over the internet. Instead of receiving a postcard or letter in the mailbox, potential customers receive an email in their inbox. Email advertising can come in the form of coupons, sales flyers or simply information about the company, and may include links to external Web sites.

Permission-Based Email Advertising

Permission-based email advertising, also called opt-in email advertising, is the process of sending e-mails only to customers who have agreed to receive them. According to LyrisHQ, when a company sends an email to a customer who has specifically requested information, the company earns a better response rate, increased trust, brand affinity and better deliverability.

Many companies choose to use an email broadcasting service for their email advertising. These services have extensive email servers, which make it easy for them to send advertisements to thousands, or even millions, of recipients. This level of email traffic would overload a typical company's email servers. Email broadcasting companies will also manage client lists, making it easy for customers to ask to be added to or removed from an email list. In effect, the broadcasting companies save businesses from having to do this often tedious and time-consuming work.

Pricing for permission-based email broadcasting is typically done on a per-email basis, with large-volume customers receiving a discount. Additionally, messages sent using these services can be in either HTML or plain-text formats.


Autoresponders are another technology used in email advertising. While autoresponder companies also provide email-broadcasting services, they additionally allow companies to advance schedule emails to be sent to customers. For example, a company may want to create a 7-day mini-course about its service. When a prospective client signs up for the list, the autoresponder will automatically send one email a day to the customer.

Autoresponders are a great way to market a product or service to new customers, but they can also be used to stay in touch with old customers. Pricing for autoresponders is on a per-month basis and depends on the amount of recipients on the business's list. Prices start from around $20 per month.

Purchasing Lists for Email Advertising

Some companies sell opt-in email lists to other companies. The people on these lists have supposedly requested information about a particular topic. Most people agree that purchasing these types of lists is not a good idea for the following reasons:

  • The person did not specifically receive information from the buyer's company and may consider the email spam.
  • A company cannot be sure that the people on the list are interested in what the company is offering, so there may be little return on investment.
  • The names on the list may have been collected illegally.
  • The company sending the email is held legally responsible if the emails are spam.
  • Sending too many unwanted emails can get a company's email address banned from mail servers, making it harder to get emails to customers that actually do want the emails.

Tips for an Effective Email Advertising Campaign

Compared with other types of marketing, email advertising is easy and inexpensive, but it is still important to plan and create an effective marketing campaign. First, successful email advertisements almost always have interesting subject lines. The subject is the first thing recipients see and often determines whether or not they open the email. Once the recipient opens the email, it should display properly. This is not usually an issue with text-based emails, but it can be a problem with those written in HTML; messages written in HTML do not always display correctly in email clients like Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or Microsoft Outlook. To avoid these problems, businesses should test their email broadcasts in a variety of email clients before sending them out. Likewise, it is important that any links included in the advertisement work properly and navigate to the correct Web sites.

Companies may want to add tracking measures to their email advertising. This can help them learn how many people received the email, how many people opened it and how many clicked through their links and purchased the advertised items or services. A good email broadcasting company offers tracking services and should have instructions on how a company can implement their tracking measures.

Spam Laws

Unlike television, newspaper and radio advertising, email advertising is personal. When a person receives an email from a company without permission, it is called "spam". The Federal Trade Commission created the Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act (CAN-SPAM Act) in 2003 in order to protect consumers from receiving unwanted emails. The main provisions of the law are:

  • Header information (such as the "To" and "From" fields and routing information) must be correct.
  • Deceptive subject lines are prohibited.
  • Any email sent must have an opt-out method, so that consumers can choose to not receive messages from the company.
  • A commercial email must include the sender's physical address and be clearly identified as an advertisement.

Not following these provisions could result in fines of up to $11,000. In addition to those fines, companies may incur additional fines for other inappropriate acts, such as using a network to send emails without the administrator's permission or harvesting email addresses. Companies could also face jail time for activities like falsifying header information in multiple emails and sending commercial emails from unauthorized email accounts.

Using a permission-based email system, where recipients can choose to receive a company's emails, is the best way to prevent accusations of spam. An email broadcasting company can also help to ensure that a company's emails pass the spam filter of recipients.

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