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"Opt-In/ Opt-Out E-mail Lists"

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8/22/97 Interview with Sanford Wallace

Cyber Promotions, Inc.
8001 Castor Avenue, Suite #127
Philadelphia, PA 19152

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Introduction to Cyper Promotions

  1. The company is the first to offer businesses the services and products necessary to send unsolicited commercial email promotions to Internet members around the world.
  2. A few years ago, the concept of email advertising upset many people, but a real market has been established - Cyber Promotions serves 10,000+ clients.
  3. Email is the common denominator on the Internet and one of the most amazing breakthroughs in communications technology.
  4. Company services center around bulk commercial email: sending clients' advertisements to a full database of recipients; enabling clients to send their own pitch through email.
  5. The do-it-yourself package includes software for the collection of email addresses and for the sending of email messages to many addresses simultaneously.
Applying Email Techniques to the Real Estate Industry

  1. A Realtor who wants to try email advertising must expect some negative response, but a trend of expectation of commercial email is already developing.
  2. Two approaches are "opt-in" - sending advertisements only to those who specifically request information, and the riskier "opt-out" - sending solicitations broadly with a request to notify you to cease if the ads are not wanted.
  3. When using the "opt-out" method, be sure to honor requests to stop sending solicitations; over time, your list will be refined, complaints will become less and positive responses will increase.
Protection Against Retaliation

  1. One of the services of Cyber Promotions is management of a mailbox for in-coming email to assist you with fulfilling requests and to avoid your putting your email box at risk.
  2. Email bombing (purposely sending thousands of messages to damage a mailbox) is illegal in the US; people in the industry are cooperating with authorities to put an end to that practice.
  3. Don't throw away an opportunity out of fear of illegal action against you.
Qualifying a List

  1. The term "harvest" means to obtain email addresses on the Internet through an automated process.
  2. Software from Cyber Promotions is designed to harvest email addresses of people that meet defined criteria; additional software broadcasts messages and automatically deletes responders who hit reply and type "REMOVE."
  3. If you are trying to hit a targeted market, take advantage of resources to identify people interested in your topic; i.e., AOL has a directory of members' profiles that lists interests and other personal information beyond names and addresses.
  4. The software can be used on AOL or at other places such as newsgroups (Usenet) and other discussion sites; many marketers are using public newsgroup databases - hundreds of newsgroups address Real Estate issues.
Practical Tips for Gathering a Specialized List

  1. The safest opt-in strategy for collecting names for an email list is to invite visitors to your Web page to leave their email address; people do well with this approach.
  2. A fairly conservative opt-out strategy is to visit newsgroups/discussion groups before harvesting to determine which cover topics relevant to your business offering.
  3. A more aggressive, less time-intensive technique is to use software; Cyber Promotions' Net Contact ($395) automatically searches all newsgroups by key word and assembles all email addresses from those that match.
  4. Web Collector ($345), searches Web pages for key words and pulls off all email addresses from the matches; List-X ($350) looks into different areas of the Internet.
  5. A good package to begin using is Net Contact because it sends email in addition to collecting email addresses; the other packages only collect the addresses.
How to Protect Yourself

  1. To preserve your professional reputation and avoid offending people, do not sell anything with your first message; be sensitive to the needs of your target market - perhaps offer them something free.
  2. An Auto Responder service has three advantages: it provides an immediate answer to a request for information, captures the responder's email address for future use and serves as a protective screen; Cyber Promotions offers a free Auto Responder through the company Web site.
  3. A professional mailbox account is another way to handle high-volume responses from bulk commercial email; email bombs are screened out.
  4. Other packages sort mail, putting negative responses on a "Remove" list and compiling the positive email addresses to be downloaded.
  5. The company's most powerful plan is Cyber Bomber ($999); email is sent to a database through a local service provider, but the only contact point shown is Cyber Promotions; the package also includes an email box and a sorter.
The Opt-In Service

  1. Cyber Promotions has assembled a list of people who have specifically asked to receive commercial email; clients are allowed to market to this mailing list.
  2. The company is monitoring the effectiveness of this newer list versus their famous Opt-Out model; both seem to work well, though Opt-Out gets more responses but also more complaints.
  3. Cyber Promotions' lists are not organized by interest - some other sources are developing interest lists.
  4. Instead of buying an over-used list, the company encourages you to develop your own unique list, which is not accessible to your competitors; creating your own list is cost effective vs. spending $0.20 per name on a commercial list.
Closing Comments

  1. The critical difference between a successful marketing plan and an unsuccessful one lies in giving people on the Internet what they are looking for.
  2. Services such as AOL and Compuserve have the right to block email from their members' private boxes because email is not a protected medium; members have the final say by staying or leaving.
  3. AOL and Cyber Promotions have settled on a compromise agreement to let members choose whether or not to receive bulk email.
  4. Wrap-up for an individual Realtor: Cyber Promotions' software can be used to harvest email addresses connected to your locale and send a one-time message offering a free report or newsletter to qualify addresses for further contact.
Contact Information for Sanford Wallace:

(v) 215 628 9705
(f) 215 628 2523

Real Estate Sites & Tools in this Briefing:

America Online One Realtor Place (members only)