Your inbox is a very personal place. At any one time you may have emails from clients and work colleagues. You may have health information from a consultant or dental appointments. You may also have all your holiday booking confirmations.
Handing over your email address to another company is not to be taken lightly. That's why when someone gives you their permission, allowing you to add to the plethora of emails they already receive, we should treat this like a precious treasure.
Think about that again. Someone has given you permission to send them information about you, your company, your product, your story or journey, or whatever the focus of the list is that they've signed up to. That's pretty powerful in the days of email overload.
So how can you make sure you don't take this lightly and you treat every email you send with respect? Here are a few tips to help you out.
1. Write as though you have one member on your mailing list and you're writing just to them
Isn't it amazing how special you feel when someone talks directly to you? That doesn't mean your name always has to be used. But using words that give a clue to both the person behind the email and the person reading it can really help. Don't you think?
Behind each email address is a person just like you. That person has their own dreams, goals and desires. They have a busy life, filled with work, family, hobbies and other commitments. But they are a person. Imagining you have just one subscriber can really help to focus your information and make sure it impacts them.
2. Establish a regular schedule and let them expect to receive it.
Imagine I said I would phone you up every Monday morning at 9.00am to encourage you and give you specific actionable tips on how to make your website more effective, just for you. Wouldn't that be great? That's one way to look at newsletters. 'Monthly doses of inspiration straight to your inbox' -which is how we plug a newsletter for one of our sister businesses.
So what if I didn't ring? How would that make you feel? Initially you'd probably think I couldn't keep my word and then, over time, if it kept on happening you would simply forget I exist.
For one newsletter I manage, I send it out without fail at 2pm on a Saturday. This is a weekly newsletter so it takes a lot of commitment to do this. I try and build up an expectation among my subscribers that at the same time, every week, they will get to know more about -in this case, a novella I'm writing.
As many people have said, half the battle to success is simply showing up. It’s keeping yourself regularly on the agenda of others knowing you have something they need.
3. Make sure your content is relevant
There's the old phrase 'content is king' and this is no different in email newsletters. The more you know who that 'one person' is (from point one above), that you're writing for, the more you can generate content that is relevant to them.
Receiving a newsletter containing irrelevant content -or at least content that doesn't match perceived brand values, can actually change your view of a company or organisation.
One company I follow (I'll leave their name out as I'm not one to name and shame) recently sent out such a newsletter. It contained a link to a survey which required subscribers to download a plugin to be able to respond to it.
The company in question had always been a strong proponent of simplicity and protectors of privacy. Their CEO received comments from annoyed subscribers saying the newsletter was 'creepy' and very unlike them. To their credit, they issued a quick apology and it's easy to then move on. Now that was much more like them as they certainly come across as a very honest brand willing to admit their mistakes.
So don't just think about the content you want to 'blast' out. Think about it from your subscribers' perspective. We discuss this more in 'How to get started in Email Marketing'.
4. What do you mean you don't already have a newsletter?
Ok. I understand that you may have had bad experiences with email newsletters. Perhaps you thought 'if I send it they will come', but you've not had the subscribers you'd expected. You've certainly not had the sales or engagement you expected.
Yes, I've been there. But you know what? The ones that work best are the ones where a long-term approach has been taken. You can't set up a newsletter, send it out for three months and expect miracles. Sometimes they happen of course. But just like miracles, this is out of the ordinary.
Back to the statements at the beginning. Someone giving you their email address is making themselves available for you to send them relevant information. This is not to be sniffed at. For anyone not using newsletters, you are missing a key opportunity to build relationships that could develop into potential customers. Why would you not want to do this? Especially as you can start out yourself with a tool like Mailchimp for free! Now what could be better than that?
So over to you
What's been your experience of email marketing?