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The Distinct Advantage of One-to-One Marketing (Part 2)

by Jason OConnor  |  
March 29, 2005

The first part of this series explored one-on-one marketing Web sites: what they are made up of, what they do, how they do it. Now, using a detailed B2B example, we are going to delve into the realm of proper, opt-in, permission-based, one-to-one email marketing, covering the four implementation steps.

Everyone gets spam, and it's unbelievably annoying. It's gotten so bad that a federal law was passed in an attempt to rein it in. The CAN-SPAM law became effective January of 2004 (the name stands for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing Act). Some specifics are as follows:

  • It prohibits using misleading "from" or "subject" headers in email messages.

  • It requires marketers to identify their physical location by including their postal address in the text of the email message.

  • It requires an opt-out link in each message, which must also give recipients the option of telling senders to stop all segments of their marketing campaigns.

Developing an in-house sales leads database is a major goal of any smart business. A house list of potential buyers' email addresses is a coveted possession. So, many companies have turned to email marketing:

However, companies that use spam techniques generally fail. They risk being put on ISP blacklists, and they certainly jeopardize their reputation. Therefore, it's imperative that the first thing any organization consider when developing an email campaign is how to avoid sending spam.

The campaign needs to be CAN-SPAM compliant and use double-opt-in, rented email lists from subscription-based magazines or Web sites that are obtained from reputable email brokers. And for the email campaigns to be truly successful, one-on-one principles need to be utilized as well.

To avoid renting (or buying) an email list from an unscrupulous email broker, look for these red flags:

  • Bulk email lists that claim to be opt-in or double opt-in but cannot explain where the email addresses actually came from.

  • If you see an opportunity to buy 15,000 email addresses for $29.99, you should probably pass (a typical price for 15,000 email addresses from a reputable broker would be closer to $3,000).

  • If the broker actually offers to give you the list, then something's wrong. This shows that the broker doesn't care what happens to his email addresses, because for all he knows you will repeatedly send emails to this list, even if many on it unsubscribe.

MetaResponse Group ( and NetCreations ( are two reputable email brokers that I've used.

Before we look at the one-to-one principles, let's first explore what makes an effective text or HTML email message. Here's a list of best practices:

  • You must offer to the recipient an incentive that is of perceived value. Examples are whitepapers, free trial software, coupons, special offers, free articles, free merchandise or contests.

  • The subject line must be compelling, succinct and relevant. It needs to be viewed as the equivalent of a newspaper headline. If the headline doesn't grab the reader, the rest won't be even looked at.

  • The copy needs to be short and succinct and written in a conversational tone. It shouldn't be more than a few small paragraphs and should require no scrolling.

  • The copy should talk about what you can do for the recipient (don't talk about yourself or your company—no one cares).

  • It should be personalized, as in "Dear Jack." You wouldn't send your resume along with a cover letter that started "To Whom It May Concern," would you?

  • It should not set off spam filters. You can test this by sending the email message to yourself at your company while your spam filters are turned on. You have to send it from outside the company to ensure that it's looked at by the filters, however.

  • There ought to be only one call to action. In other words, there should be only one hyperlink in the email message that brings the recipient to a page on your Web site that offers the incentive, first requiring that recipients fill out a short HTML form before they can get the incentive.

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Jason OConnor is president of Oak Web Works ( Reach him at

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