Greg Hoffman



The Tarpon Agency Marketing Column

Boating Industry
Thursday December 19, 2002

As the holidays approach and you begin to wind down to enjoy the season, some of you might not be able to relax completely because work is still on the brain. If this is going to be you, head into the break with different strategies to ponder — strategies that are cost-effective, help build your audience and increase sales next year.

Here is one for you to consider — e-mail newsletters sent to those who choose to receive more information on your products and services.

It’s important to stay in contact with anyone who visits your website and is remotely interested in what you offer. I am constantly advising companies in the boating, fishing and outdoor industries to find ways to keep their prospects interested.

The goal is to bring them back to your website. If they receive a well written, useful newsletter from your company each month, they won’t forget about you.

Opt-In prevents SPAM complaints

An opt-in button on your website is easy to create and manage. We suggest the double opt-in method to verify the recipient’s willingness to receive further information. As an e-mail address is submitted to your list, an e-mail should be sent to that address asking for confirmation. If they reply, then you have a legitimate prospect for your database.

Harvesting or buying e-mail addresses and sending unsolicited e-mail to these addresses is a fast way to be dropped by your Internet Service Provider if anyone on the distribution list complains. You also run the risk of losing respect among your target audience.

Even if you collect business cards in a gold fish bowl at your next boat or trade show, send one polite e-mail asking that prospect if they would like to join your e-mail database.

Stick to your promise

I advise anyone with e-mail newsletters to very careful with their lists and only send what your customers have signed up for. If you abuse your privileges and send too many, not enough or irrelevant messages, recipients will delete them quickly. Further, always make sure you give your recipients the option to remove themselves from your list.

Creating the newsletter is the easy part for some of us. Come up with a schedule for when the newsletter should be sent and work backwards from there to set deadlines on content. Always give your newsletter recipients something they wouldn’t receive anywhere else.

Examples would be special discounts, limited edition products or services and useful tips. The Tarpon Agency newsletter offers all of these examples to several hundred recipients each month.


Graphically, you can choose to send plain text or HTML messages. Some recipients may not be able to receive e-mails with logos or pictures but that number is decreasing each year. Try to give the recipients options. The main reason they subscribe is because of the content, not the look.

Finally, don’t forget the most important thing - the day and time of day to send e-mails. Think about when you read e-mails. Do you quickly scan and delete e-mails when you first get to work? Probably! Do you do the same right after your lunch hour? Probably!

If your target audience is a business crowd, mid-morning and mid-afternoon are good times to hit the send button. If your target audience is a consumer crowd, then late afternoon, early evening is a good time slot. People check their e-mail after meals, if your newsletter is at the top of their inbox, they’ll pay attention.

Greg Hoffman
The Tarpon Agency


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