E-Mail Diva: Targeting Texas Techies

Dear E-mail Diva,

I work for a media group selling online advertising for our TV Web site. We have an e-mail product called My Specials Direct (MSD). When users go to our Web site, they are asked to register so that we can collect their data and tailor ad campaigns based on demographic information. MSD has great results in other markets. But in Austin, Texas, one of the software capitals of the world as well as one of the most wired cities in the U.S., it doesn't do very well. In addition, advertisers in this market just don't see the value of advertising with the No. 1 TV station Web site in Austin.

We have the ability to identify the client's prime demo precisely. At $.XX per piece, you would think it would be easy to sell. Do you have diva-like ideas to help me?

Katherine Kemp,

Dear Katherine,

The E-mail Diva is not surprised that this offer doesn't work in high-tech Austin. Is there a profession that has more contempt for commercial e-mail than IT? Just ask your friends who are software developers, network administrators or database analysts why they don't sign up for your e-mail program, and you'll get an earful.



Your registration page sends up a lot of red flags for the tech-savvy:

The broad (required!) interest categories give the impression that a subscriber will be deluged with partner e-mails. This fear is not allayed by the use of the word "periodically." Will you be filling my inbox daily, weekly or whenever you have something truly fabulous? That's what the e-mail recipients want to know.

The pre-checked box is a violation of e-mail best practices. Don't take advantage of the skimmers--have consumers actively opt-in by checking the box themselves. The pre-checked box makes the careful reader wonder if you engage in other questionable practices.

You are smart to provide a link to a sample of your e-mail and copy highlighting the "exclusive discounts and special offers," but the partial example looks like a newspaper ad or in-store flyer.

The fundamental issue is the value you are delivering to the recipient. This becomes even more important with a tech-savvy population that is more likely to own a phone or PDA that delivers e-mail everywhere, anytime to a miniature screen. The more someone relies on e-mail, the less likely he or she wants to receive an alert and find an advertisement. The first thing the E-mail Diva did upon purchasing one of these modern marvels was to unsubscribe to several commercial e-mails.

What can you do to appeal to your wired, busy, cautious, overloaded audience?

We all love a deal, but we don't want to wade through volumes of e-mail to get it. We want what we want when we want it. Consider instead a regular (weekly, monthly, let them choose) e-mail with a simple list of specials broken down by category, e.g.:

Home & Garden Save 80 percent on a gas grill at Home Depot

Dining Get 2 pizzas for the price of one at Pizza Hut

And so on. Link to more information on your site or the advertiser's. Work with advertisers to get exclusive deals for subscribers. This is one place where you want quantity, to appeal to as many consumer interests as possible, as well as quality. Consider a personal touch--a special deals editor who works tirelessly to find the best deals for your readers and introduces the highlights, If your e-mails become a resource that subscribers check before making a purchase or going out, advertisers will clamor to be included.

The E-Mail Diva

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