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e-Mail Marketing FAQ

You've Got Mail! And so does everybody else. It's everywhere. Web sites may have been the first wonder of the Internet. Banner advertising may have astonished marketing mavens around the world. Streaming media might someday give us the video phones we were promised at the New York World's Fair in 1964.

But the most powerful tool for marketing, the most powerful tool for branding, the most powerful tool for direct response, and the most powerful tool for building customer relationships turns out to be plain old, ordinary email. It's cheap, it's easy, and everybody on the Internet has an address.

Why then is so much of the email you get so bad?
Because it's so cheap and so easy, and reaching everybody on the Internet is as simple as hitting the Send button.

Bad email is the bane of our existence. We hate it because we love our email. A PricewaterhouseCoopers survey found 83 percent of Internet users felt email was their primary reason for using the Internet. Given the choice, an overwhelming majority turned down books, radios, and televisions in favor of an Internet connection with email on a desert island.

In their report Opt-in Email Gets Personal, Forrester Research ( said opt-in email "will spread like wildfire." They believe using opt-in email for marketing "will explode" because companies will be lured by high response rates, low costs, and the ease with which any firm, large or small, can get started.

Ask a different research company and you will get a different answer for the average response rate of opt-in email campaigns. Jupiter Communications ( will tell you 5 to 15 percent. Forrester will tell you 14 to 22 percent. Ask a different email marketer and get a different answer. Some are getting only 3 percent and some are getting 40 percent. But they all agree on three things: It's not very expensive, it's not very hard, and it's got a better return on investment than other marketing and advertising techniques.

That would explain why Microsoft sends out more than 20 million email marketing pieces every month.

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