E-Mail Marketing is Still a Viable Way to Spread the Word About Your Business

Written by Liz Kudwa

Q:  My home computer is on the fritz so my friend suggested I use a library computer.  I have never used them before.  Can you tell me more about how I can use a computer at the library?

A:  Yes!  We installed new computers in November of 2005 and this included a computerized self sign in system.  Our computers offer access to the Internet, Microsoft Office programs (MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher and Access), to the libraryís catalog and to databases to which the library subscribes.

As a general rule, a library card is needed to sign up for a computer. However, for those just needing a few minutes at the computer, we have two Express Stations available on the first floor of the Main Library.  Users don’t need their library card to sign on and they are allotted 15 minutes of time.

For those needing more time on the computer, a library card is required to sign on.  Users are initially allotted one hour and can get up to a maximum of three hours a day, depending on how busy we are.  During busy times at the library, users can make a computerized reservation with their library card that will "hold" a computer for them at a given time.  When school is in session for the year, the busy times at the library are right after school and run into the early evening.

Children under 18 must use a filtered computer. The majority of public use terminals in our libraries use a filter or ìtechnology protection measure to block web access to various categories of material likely to be harmful to minors, unless they are also deemed to be educational, for kids, historical, medical, or moderated sites.

The filter does not monitor or censor the content of email or chat, nor does it do any "real time" analysis of web page content. It relies solely on a continually updated database of categorized web sites.  At least one terminal for public use at each Capital Area District Library is configured to access the Internet directly without passing requests through the filtering device.  At the Main Library, we have 10 computer stations that can be unfiltered.

Q:  I need to learn how to better use my home computer.  Does the library offer any computer classes?

A:  Yes we offer several FREE computer classes every month. Below is a listing of the September classes.  Many of these programs are offered every month.  Please contact the Computer Center at 517-367-6356 for registration and any other questions you many have.  You also can check out the Computer Center schedule online at www.cadl.org/events/cc.

Beginning Computing (2 sessions): Tues/ Thurs, Sept 5th & 7th, 10-11:30am

  • Session 1 teaches you about the parts of a computer, how to use a mouse & keyboard and desktop features.
  • Session 2 teaches you how to navigate your way through MS Windows and basic programs such as MS Word and Internet Explorer.  You’ll also learn how to save to a disk and to print.

Introduction to the Internet: Wed, Sept 20th, 10-11:30am

Email Basics: Fri, Sept 22nd, 10-11:3

A:  Despite the possibility that direct marketers’ emails could be filtered out as spam, e-mail marketing is still a viable and fairly cost effective way to spread the word about your company.  The library as two books that may offer you some advice on how to develop an effective email marketing strategy.

* Total E-Mail Marketing by Dave Chaffey, 2003
* Effective E-Mail Marketing: The Complete Guide To Creating Successful Campaigns by Herschell Gordon Lewis, 2002

Additionally, one of my favorite small business websites, www.inc.com, has some great information in their “Technology” section on tips and tricks for e-mail marketing.  You can check out their E- Mail Marketing site by visiting them at http://www.inc.com/guides/biz_online/emailmktg.html. Some of Inc.’s suggestions include 14 “common sense” e-mail marketing rules that are highlighted below.

  • Make it obvious why you are sending the message.
  • Make it easy for the recipient to opt out or unsubscribe.
  • Provide a valid, working reply address in the “From” line.
  • Do not sell your e-mail lists to others. By all means, collaborate with other reputable organizations to provide your customers with valuable information but, once again, make it clear to all recipients why they are receiving each and every message.
  • Always publish a privacy policy on your Web site, and then follow it. For some good examples of how to write a privacy policy, visit the www.truste.org site.
  • Whenever you receive a complaint from a recipient, respond quickly and courteously. If possible you should use an e-mail marketing provider, or e-mail server software, that allows you to view a user’s database record and learn where and how his or her e-mail address was obtained.
  • On your sign-up page, test “prechecked” opt-in buttons vs. ones that need a user’s explicit selection to opt in, to see which ones get a better response.
  • Keep an eye on your program’s ongoing unsubscribe rates. A high or growing rate probably indicates that the recipients are not receiving much value from your messages.
  • The more personalization and content customization options that you can provide your subscribers, the better. Use a sign-up Web page to gather contact information (including names and e-mail addresses) and content preferences or subjects of interest. This will enable you to provide them with a personalized subject line and salutation, as well as relevant, targeted content, such as events in their locality and news, features, and tips about products they own — or are interested in learning about.
  • Ask for an alternate e-mail address when users subscribe. This way you can continue to contact them if e-mail sent to their primary address bounces (for example, if they change jobs).
  • Provide a confirmation message whenever someone subscribes or unsubscribes. Not only is this a courtesy, but it also helps reduce “spoof” sign-ups.
  • All your e-mail marketing efforts should be built with the aim of growing a well-qualified database of high-value, loyal customers. This database can then be used to develop an e-mail-based dialogue that lets you learn about your individual customers’ needs and interests, and provide them with a tailored (and profitable) offering that meets those needs. Although e-mail can play a valuable role in customer acquisition, it is in retention and loyalty building that e-mail truly excels.
  • If you do not already have e-mail addresses for your existing customers, start gathering them now. Use your Web site and your “offline” media efforts to drive subscriptions.
  • If you work with an opt-in e-mail provider, be sure that every message sent on your behalf generates subscriptions for your own e-mail marketing efforts. You can expect to pay about 25 cents to 45 cents (U.S.) per message delivered by these opt-in providers, vs. 10 cents or less for outsourced delivery using your own e-mail list.

Databases: Wed, Sept 20th, 6-8pm

  • Learn the basics of finding and printing articles from hundreds of magazines and newspapers. Class participants should obtain a CADL card and should know how to use a mouse and Windows.

Microsoft Word Basics: Mon, Sept 11th, 6-7:30pm

Intermediate Microsoft Word: Mon, Sept 18th, 6-7:30pm

Microsoft Excel Basics: Mon, Sept 25th, 6-7:30pm

Microsoft PowerPoint Basics: Wed, Sept 27th, 6-7:30pm