Using Email Discussion Lists to Get Your Message Out

from Al Bredenberg
Publisher of

Whether you start your own or join someone else's, an email discussion list can help you create awareness in the Internet community. However, you need to keep these points in mind.

Looking for a way to reach your target audience by email? Why not get your message out via an email discussion list?

Because of spamming, online discussions have moved away from the Usenet newsgroups to moderated email-based lists. There are now hundreds of thousands of email discussion groups ranging in size from a few dozen to tens of thousands of members. Since these forums reach targeted interest groups, they offer a potential way for you to reach your market on the Net -- if you do it right.

One simple method is simply to advertise on the list. Many discussion lists accept paid advertising. Your text ad will appear one or more times in the body of the digest for that day or that week, usually emphasized by a decorative border. The Direct Email List Source, a Web directory of email advertising media, lists some discussion lists (as well as email newsletters) that accept advertising.

However, an even more effective way of using email discussion lists is to participate in them yourself. This offers the added advantage of not costing any money. You will, however, need to invest time and effort into crafting a message that adds value to the discussion.

Remember that a discussion list might give you access to a targeted group of prospects for your product or service, but that is not its purpose. The group's purpose is to provide a forum for sharing knowledge and providing mutual support among its members. If you try to post a message that is a blatant pitch for your company, the moderator will probably reject your message. If you want the moderator to pass your message on to the group, you'll need to offer real value, a real contribution to the ongoing discussion. You can mention your company and product, but it should be in the context of genuine participation.

Creating Signature Files

Also important: Create a signature for the end of your message. Here's the signature I used to use for everyday email correspondence:

Al Bredenberg, Editorial Director and Senior Consultant
Enterprise Interactive -- -- (203) 838-9383

However, one time for a post to the I-Sales Discussion List, I created a custom signature designed just for the I-Sales audience and the specific message I had written:

Al Bredenberg --
Editorial Director and Senior Consultant
Enterprise Interactive --
NETResults e-zine --

Notice that I added a third line because I wanted to promote my NETResults newsletter. As a result of the post, I received many new subscribers. I recommend that you carefully craft your signature when posting to a discussion list.

Another strategy to consider: Starting your own email discussion list. John Audette started the I-Sales discussion list several years ago when he was just getting started in Internet marketing. In time, his company, Multimedia Marketing Group, became one of the most prominent online advertising agencies and eventually sold for eight figures. Just a coincidence? I dont think so. I-Sales gave his company a tremendous amount of exposure. It might work for you, if you're willing to put a lot of effort into creating a quality interactive forum and building membership over the long haul.

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