May 1998

Internet EMail Strategies

Simple Reminder EMails Go a Long Way

by Auren Hoffman

One of the Internet's most powerful functions is electronic mail. Email allows a site like BridgePath to send out thousands of job announcements every day and allows a company like Human Ingenuity to do a targeted promotional offers to its customers. Email can give you a quick and cheap way to make contact with your customers. With all the talk of the World Wide Web, Java, and Internet telephony, electronic mail is still the best means of communicating ideas directly to customers, clients, and colleagues. What email lacks in two-way interaction it makes up in simplicity and effectiveness.

You can send targeted electronic mail directly to people in your database by building a query with off-the-shelf tools from companies like Netscape, Allaire, NetDynamics, Microsoft, and others. For example, take a site where you have a login and a password for members. As the site operator, you want people to return often--so you might send a message to all your members that have not logged into the site in the last month. Something like:

From = "" 
To = "<Recipient's EMail>" 
Subject = "Have not logged in"

Dear <First Name>,

We noticed you haven't logged into EMAILisCool since <Date of Last Login> and we thought that you might benefit from our new content.

Just a reminder, your LoginID is <Login ID>.

Please visit today.

Thank you.

Bob Smith EMAILisCool ---- This message was sent to <Recipient's EMail>

In this example, we might mail all the people that have signed up to be members of the EMAILisCool site--but not including people that have signed up in the last 3 months or that have logged into the site in the last month. Basically, we want to mail reminders to members that were once interested in the EMAILisCool site but have now lost interest or forgot about the site. We don't want to loose these old customers and we want to get them back to the site.

Notice the mail message. The first thing you will see is that it comes directly from Bob Smith and not from some general mailbox. You want the mail message to be as personalized as possible (hence the addition of the customer's first name) and people like to get mail from other people -- not from some random system.

One nice feature that I like is when companies include the email address the message was sent to at the end of the email message. I have over 40 email addresses and most of them forward to the same spot--so it is nice to see what email address I used when I registered at a particular site.

Also notice the URL is listed twice and the URL begins with "http://". I hate getting URL's without the "http://" because then I can't click on them directly from the email client. Does the sender actually expect me to copy and paste the URL? The objective of this email message is to get the customer to visit the web site--so make it as easy as possible for her.

Sending out a message like the one above is guaranteed to get you more traffic to your site.

Auren Hoffman ( is an analyst and a programmer at BridgePath and Director of Consulting at Human Ingenuity. Mr. Hoffman also writes a weekly column called Summation.

Copyright © 1998 by Auren Hoffman. All Rights Reserved.

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