Respecting and reflecting subscriber preferences is critical when it comes to building an email list. I don't know about you, but it makes me angry when I have to spend time every day unsubscribing from various e-newsletters and promotions. I especially dislike it when I buy something online, only to find myself automatically bombarded with daily or weekly email offers from the company.It makes me never want to do business with the company again. There might have been a tiny and obscure box to check for opting out of the email list during the sales process, but it is seldom apparent.
But as a small business, you’re on the other side of this. So how do you take a positive approach when it comes to get people to sign up for your company's email blasts or newsletters?
First, focus on providing great content. It sounds simple, but offering interesting, timely or provocative information is the key to attracting new and maintaining current subscribers. Your goal should be to make your newsletter compelling enough for people to immediately forward it to someone else.
No matter what your company offers or sells, collect interesting tidbits, tips or facts to share with customers. Also feature interviews with key employees or industry leaders.
Make sure the copy is well written. If you aren't a good writer, find someone on your team who is or hire a freelancer to do the research and write the copy. And once you've nailed down the content, make sure the newsletter or email template looks professional. You can create a variety of templates and take advantage of a free trial with pbSmart Connections.
If a weekly or monthly newsletter is too much, just limit the number of editions. For example, I created a newsletter earlier this year to promote my book, 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business while I was on a national speaking tour. My December edition featured a holiday greeting with information about my new projects. Now, I'm working on a different newsletter to promote my 2012 projects.
Trust me, every business has something interesting to share. For example, if you sell solar panels or water heaters, compile helpful energy-saving tips. If you sell clothing, go online to collect fashion tips, fabric and color trends. Positioning your company as a trusted authority in the field is the best way to boost credibility and build a subscriber base.
Here's another tip: be sure every offer or discount featured in your email links directly to a landing page about the offer — not your home page.
Add a blurb and link to the newsletter on your Facebook fan page. Post a copy of the newsletter on your website and tweet out the link to your followers. Offer a perk to first-time subscribers, such as a 10 percent discount on their first purchase or free shipping.
It's okay to send one sample newsletter to everyone in your contact database. But make sure people can opt out immediately if they choose to. You can also purchase a mailing list through Pitney Bowes if you want to widen your reach.
Whatever you blast out, just make sure you have something worthwhile to share.
Read more articles about email marketing from pbSmart Essentials.
Learn how to create an email campaigns with pbSmart Connections.
Jane Applegate is the author of four books on small business management, including 201 Great Ideas for Your Small Business, published in all formats by Bloomberg/Wiley. She's the producer and host of Tech Essentials, a new, online, on-demand talk show about the best technology and tools for small companies. It's available 24/7 at www.myfirstserver.com.