Francis Kwok | October 19, 2010
E-mail marketing is one of the most effective channels for online advertising. Unfortunately, many people misunderstand e-mail marketing as sending junk mail due to the loose spamming policy especially in China.
What’s the problem so far?
If you ask, “How do you get your e-mail lists?” most of the marketers in China would reply “It’s easy, I just get them at a reasonable price in the market”. A majority of those marketers only care about how many e-mail contacts they could send out at the lowest cost without considering if it is permission-based or not. Adhering to an opt-in e-mail acquisition strategy is usually ignored, but it’s a more effective way to generate a higher return on investment.
Here are four main tactics that shouldn’t be overlooked while obtaining proper e-mail contacts in China.
1. Despite the availability of cheap, non-permission-based e-mail lists, you should never use them.
We all know that e-mail marketing is particularly effective with opt-in lists; the results and effectiveness are always appreciated. Non-permission-based lists are just the same as “cold-calling” your customers. It is cold and without any relevance to them, why would they open your e-mail? Most of those e-mails usually go into the customer junk mail, and even worst, they might be reported as spam mail resulting in your IP addresses being blocked as well. You might have paid for the list, but you run the risk of facing a negative impact to your brand image and generating very low or even no response. So never use unknown lists.
2. Leverage your own website to make e-mail acquisition easier.
If you intend to attract more subscribers in China to submit their personal information to you via your landing page or website, they have to be tailored to suit the China market’s preference. Unlike English, Chinese people read their characters from the right-hand side to the left, so you cannot simply translate your English copy and slap it into a previously English-based template of the page. Moreover, Web design conventions are completely different in China. Chinese prefer their landing pages to be packed with information, words, or animations, and to be colourful. If you want to make sure you are not posting something that is a cultural no-no, consider partnering with a reputable local Web company that can ensure your target audience really enjoys your landing pages or microsites and take sign-up action. Many enterprise companies hit their e-mail acquisition goals by localising their landing page design.
3. Providing double opt-in options for subscribers is another essential step when acquiring valid e-mail addresses in China.
It is common for quite a lot of subscribers in China to provide invalid e-mail addresses or other people’s e-mail addresses when they register online. Undoubtedly, they are unwilling to disclose their personal information. If you don’t provide double opt-in options to subscribers, you would probably become a spammer. Double opt-in also provides an immediate way for your subscribers to remember you.
4. Doing proper viral e-mail campaigns based on your existing database.
A successful viral campaign could give you an amazing amount of high-quality database in a short time. It involves the use of an entertaining, often humorous ad that Chinese will be compelled to share with their friends. Recently, an international luxury wine company did a successful viral campaign based on their existing database in China. They sent e-mails to their database and invited its subscribers to participate in a funny online game. People had fun with it and shared it with their friends. Within 10 days, they acquired 10 times more members than their current database.
In the e-mail marketing world, it is not about the quantity but the quality of your database.