Don’t Make This Email Newsletter Mistake

hammer and egg

A commercial photographer commented on Bob Bly’s blog last week complaining that email marketing has been destroyed by spammers. That anyone who signed up for one would invariably get spammed.

Another reader said she’d signed up for one, gotten the offer of a free consultation, and the sender never followed up.

They’ve both been the victims of a common email newsletter mistake.

What’s really wrong?

The problem isn’t really the email newsletter itself (that’s just the tool). It’s the way people are using (or abusing) it.  It’s like trying to break an egg with a hammer.  It will work, sort of, but it will make a horrible mess.

If you email without permission, build your newsletter the wrong way, or abuse the permission you received, your readers will opt out, ignore your emails, or even report you as a spammer.

Trust is essential

However, if you create a real relationship and they trust you, they will eagerly want to know what you have to say.

Say, for example, our photographer saw a newsletter from a digital photography software company. Instead of selling software directly, it had tips on how to use the software, where to get the best prices on equipment, and how to earn more money with fewer clients?

What if that newsletter also offered regular, free, useful advice, without being annoying?

What if subscribing got him access to exclusive ebooks or discounts?

What if he got those things before they were released to the general public?

The problem with the free consultation offer wasn’t the offer itself, it’s that it was never followed up. That’s not a good way to earn trust, and it also seems odd.  Why go through the trouble of making a promise you have no intention of keeping?  That won’t earn you trust, and it won’t get you new clients either.  That’s not a good way to run a marketing campaign, regardless of what medium was used to deliver it.

If you want to break an egg, skip the hammer. Crack it against a cutting board instead. It’s more effective, and a lot less messy.

Image via art-core


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Is Your Email Marketing List Worthless?

No Sale

No Sale (Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass)

Some people think that email is a dinosaur. A leftover from the Pleistocene era before Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. You know, 5 or 6 years ago. It’s dead, they say. You can’t make any money from it. Email is worthless, they say!

The truth is far different.

If you build your email marketing list the right way, it can be one of your company’s biggest assets.  Imagine, a large built-in audience of people who really want to hear from you, and trust you with their time and email addresses.

Or, it can be a worthless compilation of names, the wrong audience, or people who don’t want to buy anything (and never will).

How do you tell the difference? And how do you know exactly what a list is (and isn’t).

How to Spot a worthless Email List

  • A bunch of names you scraped from website email and contact pages.

First of all, if it says “info@___” or “service@___” it’s likely to be a low-level person with no authority to buy from you.

Secondly, they didn’t ask you to contact them with your offers. Those addresses are there to help their customers (or potential customers), not to field sales pitches.

Don’t start your relationship off on the wrong foot!

  • Names on business cards you’ve collected from networking events and speaking engagements.

Conversations with real people are great. So is exchanging cards. Follow up when you get them. Do it a year later, and those people will think you’re spamming them (not helping them).

It’s technically legal under CAN-SPAM to do either of these things.  CAN-SPAM isn’t opt-in, it’s opt-out (more about CAN-SPAM rules here). It’s not a good idea though. Do it too often, and your ESP (email service provider, like MailChimp or AWeber) will think you’re a spammer too; and they may threaten to suspend your account.

  • Names that you bought (and now “own”); particularly if they were exceptionally cheap (such as $100 for 10,000 names), think services such as SalesGenie.

None of those people asked to be on those lists. Use them, and you’ll get labelled a spammer. There are some email lists available for rent (one-time use), but they’re expensive ($300 for 1,000 names). If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

How to build a valuable email marketing list

  • People you spoke to personally, who expressly asked to be on your list
  • People who signed up directly from your website, and thereby gave you permission to contact them
  • Your existing customers and prospects: people you already have a relationship with (ask them first!)
  • Attendees at your webinars.

Make sure you ask everyone for permission to continue to contact them. Offer something in return (a recording, a set of slides, or a white paper).

  • Subscribers to your auto-responders. They’ve said they want to hear from you (repeatedly).

Inboxes are crowded, and people are pressed for time.  You want to build a relationship. Get them to know you, like you, and trust you.  Once those people are on your list, nurture them (don’t spam them with offers for expensive products right away).  You wouldn’t ask someone you just met to marry you, would you?

P.S. All of this can be a lot to digest. If you want to have a quick conversation about this, email me here (no charge).


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Start Your Email Newsletter Without an Opt-In List

Orange Icon EmailCatherine on LinkedIn asks:

I need advice on what email newsletter service to use. Mail Chimp and Constant Contact require me to have email addresses that already have opted in. This is my first newsletter so I don’t have this. I have a list of emails from all my business cards. How do I do this?

If you’re starting your first newsletter, like Catherine, it can be a bit daunting. Most email providers want you to have opt-in names for your list, but you’ve got no list, and no permission, so how can you email? You do have a stack of business cards though. Is that OK?

Email list opt ins and opt outs

While CAN-SPAM technically requires opt-out, rather than opt-in, the top email service providers require that you get explicit permission first. It reduces their (and your) spam complaints and improves email deliverability. Plus, while it’s not legally necessary, it’s much more considerate and helpful to ask first (rather than just starting to shout at people).

how to get email list opt inS

For clients, or prospects you’re already talking to, send a personal email (don’t do it en masse, and don’t let them see each other’s info), telling them you’re starting a newsletter.

Ask them to opt-in to your email list.  Include a few points about the types of topics you’ll be covering, how often you’ll be sending it, and how it will help them.

If they are people you met recently, send a personal email saying it was nice to meet you at X, I enjoyed talking about Y, and including the opportunity for an email list opt-in (again with info about what they’ll receive).  Include a link to opt-in to your newsletter.

Then add an email list opt-in form to your blog or website, repeating the bullet points, and asking readers to sign up. Send the people you’ve contacted to that page.

You can also encourage the opt-in by offering a special bonus to the first X number of people to sign-up.

 


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Tuesday Travels: Secrets of Email Marketing Lists

English: icon for mailing lists

Image via Wikipedia

“The money is in the list.”

You’ve probably read that a lot. I know I’ve said it a lot. It means that the list you rent (or build) is the most important part of your marketing. A bad list means bad results (you’ll never make money trying to sell parrot food to cat owners).

Here are some tips on email list building and marketing.

Start Your Email Newsletter Without an Opt-In List– what if you don’t have a list? or you’re just starting out?  then what?

How Big Should Your Mailing List Be? – how many people do you need? is bigger always better?

The Truth About Buying Email Lists – there are plenty of lists for sale and for rent; should you use them?

The $100 Marketing Campaign That Packed the Room – you don’t need a big budget (or a big list) to get great results


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How to Increase Your Email Conversion Rates

cash-register by kareszzz on pixabay, public domainHave you ever noticed that some emails get more sales than others? Sometimes you get high open rates, and lots of clicks. Other emails seem to fall flat.

What’s the difference? Is there anything you can do to increase your email conversion rates?

Can you “train” people to buy more? Not train exactly, but what you can do is check, test, and measure what you’re sending the people on your list.

improve the quality of your email list

The first thing to check is the quality of your list. Are you getting lots of bounces (undeliverable emails)? Check with your email service provider to see why.   The best email providers  have high deliverability rates.

Where did the names come from?  Did you buy a list from somebody? Exchange lists?  Is it a rented list?  Or a list you built yourself?  Your own subscribers should be more receptive to your offers, and the data should be “cleaner” (meaning fewer bad addresses).

check your message for spam triggers

Run your messages through a spam checker before you send them.  You probably know that certain words can trip filters, but so can too many images.  People can’t respond to your email if they don’t get it.

is the email helpful and relevant to your audience?

Is the email (and the offers in it) relevant to your audience?  Are they still interested in what you have to say?  If a large portion of your list is ignoring you, send everyone an email asking them to confirm that they’re still interested.  Cutting your list can be scary, but a smaller, responsive list will earn more (and have a better ROI) than a larger, unfocused one.

Work on your subject lines

Subject lines are like headlines, they’ve got to grab attention.  If they’re not interesting, they won’t get opened.  The best way to find out is to test them against each other.  The best subject lines will get more opens and more clicks.

check the frequency of your emails

How often do you send emails?  Is it more (or less) often than promised?  A barrage of email can turn people off (unless it’s extremely relevant).  Sending fewer emails may get better results.

change the wording of your offers

If it’s a sales email, the wording of the offer can change how people respond.  Test different ways of saying the same thing. Do you get a better response to your deal of the day if it’s 50% off a $200 product? Or if it’s $100 less?  The final cost is the same in both examples, but readers will respond to them differently.

USE MULTIPLE LINKS

Spread the links throughout the email. Some are ready to commit right away, but others will need more details and information before pushing the button. When you get the results back from your campaign, see which email link had the most clicks.


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