Don't let customers forget about you.

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A few summers ago my family took an RV trip to Niagara Falls. We had a blast. On the way we visited Cooperstown where we stood in line for two hours to view Babe Ruth's jockstrap. We paid $40 per night for an asphalt parking space in an RV park with a view of the local diner. All in all, the trip was a success. The RV was fine. The place where we rented it from provided a great service, even answering our panicked calls one Friday night when our toilet decided to work in reverse.

But something kind of bothered me afterward. After we limped back to the RV place and turned in the keys, we never heard from them again. Not a phone call. Nothing - in the mail or in e-mail. Not a peep.

I don't get this. Is the RV business that great? Is there such a backlog of short, bald, red faced dads who take their kids on RV trips that a business doesn't feel the need to do any marketing?

Good marketers do whatever they can to keep their customers coming back. They use inexpensive tools to keep in touch. They know that finding new customers costs significantly more bucks than selling additional products and services to their existing customers.

One way to do this is through e-mail. Why was I not at least invited to receive an e-mail newsletter from the RV company? I wouldn't mind getting an RV or camping tip sent to me every month. I'd be interested in any special deals or offers they might have for a weekend or holiday get a way.

An e-mail marketing service I recommend is Constant Contact. It's ranked among the top 500 Web sites in the world. There are of course hundreds of other e-mail marketing services out there.

Constant Contact rates as one of my top choices by offering a free 60 day trial, the service costs $75 per month to send up to 10,000 e-mails. They also offer ready-made templates. It monitors its customers for potential spammers. When you blast out an e-mail using their service you'll find that most of the major Internet service providers will let your messages pass because they're originating from the company and not some unknown computer traceable somewhere in the Philippines.

The service also manages people who opt-out of your mailing and gives you reports to show you who actually opened or read your messages. You can keep your customer list there or upload it from a spreadsheet every month. It's pretty easy.

I get a lot of spam. I don't read those messages about print cartridges, stock tips or Viagra. But a nice monthly newsletter of camping tips from a place that I've purchased from before would be fine.

Don't let good customers forget about you. You can keep an inexpensive relationship going by using inexpensive online e-mail tools.

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