Internet Marketing Lessons
Selling gift baskets on the Internet includes making your presence known to local hotels, conference centers, organizations and other groups who may be interested in buying your state-made baskets for out-of-town visitors. Your site may also be visited by out-of-state destination management firms sending gift baskets to groups in your area that consider holding their conference in another state.
Selling on the Internet means being as creative in your marketing efforts as you are in styling your baskets. The more you market (link trading, board postings and other activities), the greater your chances for Internet profits.
Email Marketing - Right or Wrong
I recommended that you send announcements about your new career to your friends and associates. This is a perfectly acceptable form of advertising, however if you go outside your circle of personal friends and acquaintances, you must consider ensuring your mailing is perfectly legal.
I'm going to cover the definitions of SPAM for a moment and then we're going to cover a way to email to thousands of customers with their permission.
You may feel that SPAM email is any email that you didn't ask specifically to receive---and you'd be right, but only a small percentage of your email each day is actually SPAM---the numbers will surprise you. The fact is, we all receive dozens of emails that we think are SPAM, but are actually permission based and are legitimate.
Here's how our mail box gets cluttered. Let's say you went to a popular website and ordered your favorite magazine from them. You only gave them an email address and your mailing address and then you pressed "submit" button to process your request. What else happened?
Company may share personally identifiable information (including your information that has been enhanced with information from other sources) with advertisers, third party marketers, our affiliated entities for their online and/or offline marketing programs"
So, giving your email address to one site very often means that you have given permission to receive offers (emails) from dozens of their partners.
These "partners" are just doing what they do---marketing to consumers. You gave most of those companies that send you what you might consider junk mail permission at one time or another when you ordered something, when you entered a contest or when you requested information or downloaded a program.
Can you see now that most of that email in your inbox is not really SPAM but legal email sent to you because of some permission you gave months ago. Although we might call these unwanted emails SPAM, they are not. Unwanted email is not SPAM unless it is completely unsolicited or without our permission.
Whether you want to use this marketing method is entirely up to you, but it is generally very effective if you have a decent product and you can convince the consumer of that fact.
Do not falsify or use misleading transmission information
Don't try to hide the individual or organization sending the transmission. To be safe, your FROM address should include your company name. For example, our company is La Bella Baskets. It would be wrong if I sent out email saying I was with babystore.com.
Do not use a deceptive subject line or heading
Although this is primarily geared towards stopping pornographers from 'tricking' the unwary into opening their emails, you must not use deceptive headlines in an attempt to get more people to open your emails and read your message. For example, don't say---I've been calling you, please respond... This would be a violation. The subject line of the email and the content in the mail should match closely.
You must include a mechanism to remove people (and it must work)
When the recipient hits "reply" to your e-mail, the return address should go back to a valid email address and if a customer requests to be removed you must act on them in a timely manner. This 'removal' feature must work for 30 days from the date of transmission.
The biggie! You are prohibited from sending email after the customer has objected
If someone replies and asked to be removed from your list, you have 10 days to get them off all lists. If you send them another e-mail on the 11th day or later, you can be liable for $250 per email or worse.
The other biggie! You must identify the person or company that is responsible for sending the email.
Your emails must have:
1. Clear and easy to understand messaging that the email is an advertisement. If you're selling a product and making an offer, then this is obvious. You do not have to put this advertising notice in the subject line, but your subject line must be relevant to your email's content and intent.
2. Clear and easy to understand notice and instructions to the consumer that they can opt-out and not receive further emails from you.
3.Clear and easy to find physical valid postal address of the sender/advertiser. The law does not prohibit using a P.O. Box but to be on the safe side, use the physical location of the business.
Transactional Relationship Exemption:
There are exemptions to the above if the consumer has established a 'transactional' relationship with the business. For example, if I enrolled as a member, I expect to get certain emails regarding my order. I want confirmation email and I will expect you to keep me updated on information about my membership. The law does not specifically spell out your conduct in this area, but our stance is that you can send emails to consumers that have a 'relationship' with you until they ask to be 'removed'.
We think that sending email to people that want it is a good idea. We do our best to avoid sending email to people that won't benefit from our membership. That rule seems to work for us and we think it will for you too.
Seven Simple Online Promotion Strategies
If you're like most people, you don't have a strong understanding of computer languages and behind the scenes programming. However, you probably have become pretty savvy at using email, surfing the web,and posting comments in user forums or chats. You can use these skills to drive traffic to your website, encouraging people to contact you about the business opportunity or our gifts.
Here are several simple "everyday" strategies to turn your web browsing into a successful promotional activity.
1. Create a Signature Tag for your email account which places an advertisement at the bottom of every email you send!
2. Link to your site from your favorite forums, blogs, and community sites like Facebook and Myspace.
3. Explore pay per click advertising (Google, Yahoo, Ask.com, etc.).
4. Register your site with Work at Home, crafts and other related directory sites.
MerchantCircle.com Free to Join.
Find new customers.
MerchantCircle is the largest social network for local business owners. Services include free online business listings, free marketing tools, Internet advertising,
5. Advertise using online newspaper "Classified Ads" like craiglist.org or your city's online classified ads.
6. In your spare time, sign personal guest books on websites and include a link for them to see your site.
7. Search for articles with content related (Gift Baskets, Work at Home, Opportunities for women, Opportunities for single moms).
Email Addresses for Holiday Email Campaigns
In an article posted by The Associated Press, Kurt Peters, editor-in-chief of trade publication Internet Retailer, noted that gift basket stores can easily increase their sales by sending out e-mail blasts, which is faster and more cost-effective than redoing a mailer to consumers.
The first thing you must do is collect email addresses from your current customer base. If you don't already have these on file, start calling customers right away to collect those addresses. When you have some down time, call 5-10 customers per day. Your email program includes a way for you to create a Group List where you simply type in all of these addresses. Then, when you're ready to advertise your gourmet baskets or run a special promotion, you type a single email and send that to the group list that you created.
You can even build unique group lists that target your special customers. For example, build a separate list for your corporate accounts, or customers who usually spend a certain amount on their holiday gift baskets, or customers who often order baskets that include particular brands of gourmet items that you carry. Then you can target those groups with very specific email promotions that appeal to their particular needs.
Use email marketing this season to boost your holiday sales. With a minimal amount of effort, you can create special email groups that include customers who will be gratified to receive your messages that are relevant to their buying habits.
Web Marketing for Gift Basket Businesses
Are your email campaigns successful? Do you get orders? Are you attracting new customers? Are established customers responding to your emails? Periodically, we need to ask ourselves these questions and think about what we can do better.
Here are some simple, yet helpful tips:
1. Do you know what your email looks like when received by your customer? Before you send an email to your customers, send it to yourself. Is the format attractive? Is the font readable? Are the graphics or photos that you included clear and sharp? Are the colors used appealing? You might also send it to some friends to give you some feedback about these questions. They don't need to understand your business or have in depth knowledge about your products to be able to tell you whether your email piece is appealing.
2. Do your recipients immediately know who the email is from? Your name should be right at the top of the email with contact information easily found. Have you ever scrolled up and down an email to find a phone number or other way to contact the company? Frustrating to say the least!
3. Is your offer clear? Have you offered solutions to problems relevant to your customers? Talk to your best customers and find out what problems they experience most often with past basket purchases? Are prices too high? Are they looking for products that will have some kind of connection to the person they are giving it to? Are they looking for products that appeal to a certain audience? Your marketing campaign can then explain how your products or services will address these particular needs.