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By Louis Chatoff

I am sorry to say the days of just hitting the send button and hoping your list members respond favorably has passed. You need to start engaging your members! Remember, email gained popularity as a two way communication tool, so use this feature to build interest in your messages. Tools like surveys, rating products, and soliciting feedback can energize an otherwise lifeless email marketing campaign.

Somewhere along the line email marketers followed the lead of print, television, and radio advertising and started pushing content down list members' throats. The low cost and high ROI made email an effective way to take print ads and newly created web pages and send them directly to hundreds, thousands, maybe even millions of current and potential customers. But why only push? Telephone sales and door to door sales taught marketers that there is a huge advantage to hearing the customer's response.

The rapid growth of email is centered on the ability to quickly communicate. So keep it two-way. Don't bore your audience with a simple catalogue page. Donít expect them to spend 10 minutes reading how your investment advice is so much better than everyone else's.

Let me ask you this: Why is the Spam button so popular? Is it because it offers engagement? The message recipient gets to let the ISP know that the message is unwanted. Consumers like a way to respond, to offer feedback, to state an opinion. More and more product-based websites let purchasers rate and make comments related to items they have purchased. There are even websites where the sole purpose is to allow consumers the ability to rate products. Why are email marketers so slow to follow suit?

Using surveys, product rating, and requesting feedback can easily engage your email audience. Target segments of your list and treat them like focus groups. Ask questions; talk with your audience not to them. Every email client has a reply button, so use it to your advantage. Offer a coupon to anyone who replies to your message, fills out a survey, or rates a group of products. Your email software should offers tools that make these valuable suggestions possible. Simple ideas like allowing your audience to select their favorite new product and then announcing the winner can work wonders. Look what it did for American Idol!

Please don't let email marketing dissolve into the category of postal junk mail. No one ever opens the stuff and it is just creating clutter. Well, at least email is greener.

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