Your Email facility
An email account and address is still a status symbol here in Nigeria.
However, this situation is changing rapidly. Thanks to the increasing
number of ISPs in our cities and major towns and, the establishment of
cyber-cafes and email business centres all over the country. To have an
email account is not enough. How do you use your email? Is it just for the
casual communications with friends, family members and a few contacts here
and there? Have you thought about the power of this facility and its great
potentials as a social, business, and marketing tool? Here are some hints
on how to
the power of your email usefully and profitably for
personal and business communications.
Electronic Mail (email) is simply the process of sending information from
one computer to another. The information you send could be texts,
graphics, pictures or spreadsheets. The beauty of the email is that the
recipient of your message need not be at his desk waiting for it. The
information sent is stored on his ISP’s server and forwarded whenever he
fetches his mails. This is referred to as the principle of “store and
forward” in email. The email software is easy to set up. It could be
Web-based or run on the office and home PCs. To retrieve and send mails is
quick and easy. Little wonder that email usage by the old and the young
alike, has gained rapid acceptance the world over. Someone said there are
so many things the email can do that it just might go down in history as a
more significant invention than the World Wide Web.
Email as a Marketing Tool
The potential of the email as a powerful marketing tool is just unfolding.
If you are a recipient of business emails from around the world, you’ll
notice the changes taking place in email contents. You have the option to
send and receive your email in plane text or HTML. The HTML format, which
I prefer, is colourful and easier to read with your browser. Educational
emails are now available too on a large variety of subjects. You could
register for a distance-learning course and obtain a degree working from
home. All these have “marketing” undertone in that email is being deployed
in selling goods, services, ideas, and opinions as never before.
Nevertheless, we have not seen the best of the email yet. A new technology
is coming up that will enable an email sender to embed his voice, video
and music in a message to his recipients. Marketers will be the first to
embrace the new technology and use it to sell goods and services directly
to us in our homes and offices.
Consider this evolving scenario with the new technology: You’ll see the
salesman in video, talking to you as he displays his ware on your email
window. For effects, he may play one of your favourite music as background
sound. If he is a travel agent, for example, he may show you the video of
some of those exotic holiday places he is selling. At the end of it all,
you’ll be induced to click that button to place your order. Mind you,
you’ll not be asked for your credit card details. The cookies or spy-wares
on your hard disk already know the details! This is not a fictitious
scenario. It has been done experimentally and the wide adoption is just a
matter of time.
Meanwhile, it is time for us to examine how to deploy your email to market
your goods, your services and even yourself. You can start with one or all
of the following suggestions:
1. Replace the signature box in your email with an Animated Banner that shows
whom you are and what you can do.
2. Link your email to your Website, if you have one. If not, create a
personal or business Website and join the more than 10 million private and
business Websites on the Internet.
3. Improve your social and business status with electronic greeting cards - ecards.
4. Personalize your email, using the email merge found in most word
processors or use a standalone email merge manager. to enhance the power
of your email. I will show you how.
Animated Banners on Emails
The use of Animated Banners for adverts was hitherto,
confined to the Web. Now, advertisers have brought it to the email. You
too can take advantage of this trend in a discrete way. For instance, I
often insert Animated Banners
like the one shown below into
my HTML business emails to call attention to my Website.
With the banner hyperlinked to my site, the email recipient will be
attracted to look at the site before closing the message.
You can create
animated banners, using the
Animation Shop program in Jasc Paint Shop Pro or Selteco Bannershop GIF
Electronic Greeting Cards
Electronics cards are displacing the traditional paper
cards. There are greeting e-cards for many local and International
festivals, such as Christmas, New Year, Eid Al-Fittr, Halloween, and
Hanukkah etc. Similarly, there are e-cards for personal anniversaries, such
as Birthdays, Weddings, and Graduations etc. Sending e-cards
to your clients and business associates on festival occasions and on their
anniversaries will undoubtedly be appreciated.
I sent about 100 personalized e-cards for a fraction of what it
have cost me to buy and mail them by post.
You can design and make your own ecards
but professionally made ones are available free at many sites on the Internet.
Check the following sites to see what they have to offer:
Personalize Your Email
You can use Email Merge to personalize your emails. An email merge is a
process of personalizing your messages to many contacts. It works in the
same way as mail merge in word processing. There are three main parts to
the process. The first is the Database with fields in the records such as
First Name, Surname, Email Address etc. The second part is the Message
Template containing embedded fields corresponding to those in the database. The third part is the Email Manager or Wizard, which
links the database with the message template.
The email merge occurs when the email manager sends your message to the
recipients, merging the information in the database with the appropriate
fields in the message template.
The ability to send personalized
email to clients, customers and contacts saves you money and promotes your
personalized emails, you no longer send those generalized circulars and
notices marked, “To Our Valued Customers”. You address each customer with
his real name and your message becomes a person-to-person one, making your
offers or appeals more persuasive. Don’t forget that we all like to be
recognised as individuals and not just a number on someone’s record
Email merge therefore helps to
give each of your customers the recognition they need when you send
messages, circulars, notices and newsletters to them. There are many
email merge software in the market and here are three you can try.
The Email Merge in MS-Word
There is an email merge feature
in MS-Word 97 and 2000, but it is not very well known like the mail
merge feature therein. However, it will provide a good starting point
for a beginner to learn how to use the email merge. Assuming Microsoft
Word is your word processor, launch it now to follow the discussion.
From the menu bar, select Tools and then Mail Merge. You’ll be presented
with the Mail Merge Helper
lets you create the database and
message template for Mail Merge, Email Merge or Fax Merge. However, the
email merge feature in MS-Word works best with Microsoft Outlook. If you
have Word and Outlook applications installed, you are lucky and need not
search for any other email merge manager. If not, look around for a
There are more
than 70,000 email merge applications on the Internet. You can check this
by using search engines such as that in
www.google.com and search for “email merge software”. You’ll be
overwhelmed by the returns received. I have tried half a dozen of those
products and found two that I can happily recommend to others. They are
and WorldMerge at
SBE works with the Comma
Separated Value (CSV) database format. If your existing database is not
in that format, SBE shows you how to convert it. SBE is very simple to
setup and configure and its email merge process is quick and smooth.
WorldMerge is another email merge
manager. It is well-documented and simple to use. WorldMerge could
handle both your lists mailing and your email merge. A Project Wizard
helps you to set up as many mailing projects as you like such as
Christmas Lists to contain the database of everyone you plan to send
Christmas ecards to, or Customers List containing the database of all
your customers. WorldMerge is shareware. Registration costs $40.
You may wonder which of the three email enhancement
products mentioned in this article is best for you. This depends on your
personal preferences and your company’s needs. The email merge in
MS-Word may be all you need if you have Word and Outlook already
installed. SoftBulkEmail could handle email merge with unlimited number
of records. However, the fields in your database should not exceed
twenty. In spite of that, it is powerful enough for personal and
business use. WorldMerge special features include unlimited fields in a
database but the number of records is limited to 100,000. In addition,
it has a useful Report Log and a comprehensive user’s manual. Whichever
one of the three you use, you will find that the email merge in them
will take your email out of the ordinary rank by providing you with the
power to personalize your messages to your customers, clients and
contacts for effective personal and business communications.