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Todd Kellner

Solo Mailing: The Best of Both Worlds?
By Todd Kellner

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Thursday, as I was scanning around my usual information sources, I stopped to read an article by ClickZ columnist Tom Hespos entitled "A Bleak Future for Email Marketing?" The article said, in effect, that when the "average" person receives direct email, he/she deletes it instantly if it a) appears commercial, and b) does not come from a familiar party.

Often, online marketers lose sight of the fact the deals they receive interest them because of the presentation, not the offer itself. I find that I scan some of these emails while I'm going through my inbox at work to see who's advertising for whom, how they're presenting the offer, etc. At home? "$%#!@% -- more junk mail!"

Tom's conclusion is summed up in his article's title -- Are people so inundated that these offers are going to be instantly trashed and never opened? Is it only going to get worse?

For traditional direct email, I would have to agree.

Obviously, this speaks well for email newsletters, which are (generally) noncommercial in intent and come from a trusted source. More interestingly, many email newsletter publishers have grafted the two together in the form of solo mailings to newsletter subscribers. This offers marketers most of the same direct email benefits (it's essentially the same thing), while delivering to an audience via a trusted information resource.

Please note that I'm not speaking of newsletter solo mailings to a subscriber list which did not opt-in to receive offers. The two most common ways of gathering a solo mailing audience are to make it part of the newsletter opt-in process ("I also agree to receive occasional special offers, never to exceed once a week") or to install a secondary landing page with topic-specific special offers after the person has subscribed.

A few things to remember:

  • The best way to ensure that your subscribers know where the offer is coming from is to put [Ezine Name] first in your subject line.

  • Because most buyers are not familiar with the distinction between newsletter solo mailings and traditional direct email, CPMs are generally at a much lower rate, for now, than direct-email kingpins such as PostmasterDirect and are commanding.

  • PostmasterDirect, for example, offers several "pinpoint" demographic settings, such as age and geotargeting, which are most attractive to buyers. For you to be able to command similar CPMs, you will need to be able to set up your list in a way where you can pull up the same information, and you will often have to split up your list for targeted deliveries.

  • If you are unable to do this, it does not preclude you from sending out solo mailings. Keep in mind that it usually will, however, mean a significantly lower CPM. Many buyers will still like the idea of an email with just their offer in it -- some feel that their offers get lost in an email newsletter's content, and they also enjoy more than 7 lines to pitch their product or service.

  • Too many mailings to your subscribers may result in a substantial attrition rate. Keep your offers tasteful and targeted, and watch the frequency rate -- once a week is probably a nice place to start. If you receive an alarming rate of unsubscribes or a large amount of positive feedback, adjust accordingly.

Newsletter solo mailings are what I'd call an "up-and-comer" in the industry. With even media buyers questioning the future of direct email marketing, this may be the best of both worlds and a potentially lucrative option for you to consider if you're not doing it already.

Ezine-Tips for September 28, 2001

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