Can E-Mail Rescue Telemarketing?

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Marketers and telemarketers face a tremendous challenge for their industry. The national no-call registry creates an environment that limits the ability to call prospects based upon profiling. The key for calling rests upon the notion of having a "relationship" with the customer or prospect.


What constitutes a relationship?


The powers that be seem to think having completed a sale transaction with a customer within an arbitrary period of time constitutes a relationship. This is similar to saying that I have a relationship with the homecoming queen because I dated her 30 years ago. However, I doubt that the definition of relationship presently being floated will hold up for long.


The present definition defines a sale within 18 months as the time frame for establishing a relationship for marketers. Another step now being taken by highly sensitive phone marketers is to purge all purchasers against the no-call registry to weed out these relationships.


So how are marketers supposed to reach people?


Use e-mail to establish relationships. Not spam, but true opt-in e-mails that over time establish real bonds.


Think about it: First they raise their hands to receiving your e-mail. This is the first step in the connection process. The attempt to build rapport is just beginning.


Once the opt-in phase is created, then the communication phase starts. Is there ever a sound connection without sincere communication? Using e-mail as a contact vehicle to develop and nurture relationships means that one must use it in a more sophisticated way than simply telling someone to "buy my stuff."


Proper e-mail use gives something to the relationship before asking permission to market to them via telephone. What can you give as a marketer? I suggest content that interests the prospect. If you are a healthcare provider, develop content that gives advice to living a happier, healthier life?


Giving something valuable to the opt-in e-mail prospect paves the way for interactivity. This interactivity is essential because soon after, the marketer should create reasons for the permission-based connection to extend beyond e-mail to the phone. Permission-based call lists, like their permission-based e-mail counterpart, need to be developed in the aftermath of the no-call registry.


Once the permission-based e-mail lists have relationships established, there are many ways to ask for the phone number. Involvement devices have been used for years to encourage interactivity. This is critical for the online experience.


Sweepstakes are one way to get people involved. Giving away merchandise is always a way for people to give you permission to call them. You would be surprised how many people will let you call them just by asking. These tools, along with surveying, not only will engage a prospect, but the marketer now has built a road map as to what to market.


So e-mail, if used properly, can and will result in developing permission-based call lists. Consider e-mail a gateway for developing permission-based call lists instead of simply using it as a direct marketing, transactional vehicle. Using e-mail as more than a transactional medium may be what the doctor ordered for keeping those phones ringing, as well as the auto-dialers humming.


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