The growing availability of e-mail addresses being collected by firms 
	allows the creation of a new delivery mechanism, the electronic letter-
	shop. Electronic mail can be sent quickly and inexpensively via an 
	interface with the Internet, both for prospecting and installed-based 
	marketing efforts. 
	Though e-mail-based solicitations will not immediately replace tradi-
	tional direct mail, it does represent a new marketing channel that 
	cannot be ignored. On a daily basis, there are thousands of new users 
	getting online to the information superhighway via the Internet and 
	the various commercial online services. The electronic lettershop 
	will give you an inexpensive method of reaching these people with 
	targeted, e-mail solicitations. Here are several ideas to help you 
	prepare for using the electronic lettershop.  
	1. Allocate room in your internal customer database to store e-mail- 
	related elements: the name of the online service they use, and 
	their e-mail address. You need the name of the service to construct
	a valid Internet address out of their service-specific e-mail 
	address. For example, Joe G on American Online would have an 
	Internet address of You might want to establish one 
	character coding scheme to track the names of the major services, 
	including America Online, Compuserve, Prodigy, Delphi, eWorld, 
	GEnie, and the Internet. Depending on the service, e-mail addresses
	range from six to 10 alpha numeric characters, including special 
	characters such as commas and periods. However, a pure Internet 
	address could get as long as 40 characters.  
	2. Ask your customers for the name of their online service and e-mail 
	address. (If you can, ask for both a primary and secondary service/
	e-mail address combination.) Do this at all points of contact in-
	cluding your registration card, customer service, sales department, 
	house file/upgrade mailing, outbound telesales, BBS system, etc. 
	If you are planning to revamp your registration card, employ tradi-
	tional direct-marketing techniques to enhance the capture rate of 
	e-mail addresses, such as premiums and free offers.  
	3. Don't let the security issue thwart your efforts. Use the Internet 
	to generate phone calls to an 800 number to accept a credit card 
	order, avoiding any potential security problems.  
	4. As with any new medium, track and measure responses generated via 
	the Internet to evaluate performance. Perhaps a special 800 number 
	or a unique extension could be implemented for this specific pur-
	pose. Inbound telemarketers on the receiving end of an Internet-
	generated call should specifically ask customers for their e-mail 
	address (and the name of their online service) in association with 
	their U.S. mailing address.  
	5. Use an e-mail suppression file. By asking individuals ahead of 
	time if they want to receive commercial e-mail solicitations, you
	will avoid being "flamed" (online talk for hate mail).  
	How it works: Prepare a text-based e-mail message, which an outside 
	agency would send to your installed base or to prospects from the 
	cooperative e-mail pool. Messaging would be sent overnight, reaching 
	its destination typically by the next morning. The e-mail suppression 
	file would be applied, eliminating those who do not want to receive 
	outside solicitations.  
	In conclusion, regardless of whether you're ready to use it immedi-
	ately, you should take steps to start capturing e-mail address data 
	This resource is (c) 1996 by, and excerpted from,
	The Catalog Marketer, a newsletter from Maxwell Sroge Publishing.