Most sole proprietors and small business owners I work with struggle with the proper use of e-mail when it comes to business marketing. Some questions are basic etiquette and proper practices, while others many times delve into the arena of online marketing. The last thing we want to do is discourage subscribers, cause unsubscribes or worse — get reported for spamming!
What to Do, What Works, What Doesn’t
Each business has different goals, business models and methodology that can and should be reflected in their e-mail marketing efforts. A great deal of time and testing must be done to determine what will work for your specific brand, market or niche. But there are some basics that you can use to guide your strategy and ensure a positive marketing ROI.
People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. ~Simon Sinek
- Always get permission! It’s the law. I discuss this in more detail in my article: CAN-SPAM and Your Business E-mail Marketing. If an interested party e-mails for information on your product or service, that is NOT tacit permission to add them to your list. Add a checkbox on your forms – that is NOT checked — asking if they want to be added to your newsletter list. Then respect that choice.
- Have at least two lists. One for folks to receive your Blog posts notices via e-mail and one for your newsletter. Believe it or not some folks will only want one or the other. You’ll want to segment your newsletter list further which allows you to laser focus your message to those who have indicated interest on certain topics only.
- For your newsletters, avoid impersonal reply addresses like [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] without a real person’s name. Always use your name (or the person with the responsibility to address inquiries) and their address. That’s how you make a connection!
- Use a service to handle all the subscribe/unsubscribe, formatting, cross-platform and mobile display issues for you. You create the text, they handle the formatting. MailChimp.com is just one of several easy to use marketing automation services. No charge up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 e-mails per month. These services will make sure you are CAN-SPAM compliant as well.
- Spellcheck, then read out loud! Rinse and repeat. Nothing can dent your brand’s professional image like typos and grammatical errors.
- Send a test e-mail before publishing the campaign to be sent your list. When the test arrives, click on all the links within to ensure they are operational and not 404s.
- Be wary of e-mail lists or databases that are available for purchase. You do not know the integrity of those lists or how they were accumulated. Work instead on building your own list organically through your website contact/subscribe form(s).
- Do not wear out your welcome. E-mail subscribers when you have something of value to share. Don’t get in the habit of e-mailing only when you have something to sell. Mix it up with useful information! Send too many e-mails or be too sales pitchy and you risk becoming annoying and have subscribers jumping for that unsub link.
Today it’s important to be present, be relevant and add value. ~Nick Besbeas
Good marketing makes the company look smart. Great marketing makes the customer feel smart. ~Joe Chernov
The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing. ~Tom Fishburne
By following the above basics, you can grow your list to one of valued and repeat customers!