In a previous post, I talked about the need to get permission from your clients and prospective clients before marketing to them. Today, I’d like to refine that concept a bit with a specific emphasis on small business’ email marketing mailing lists.
I often receive newsletters for which I didn’t sign up. Needless to say, I will either immediately unsubscribe or create a filter in Gmail that deletes all messages from the sender.
What then goes through my mind when someone signs me up for his or her newsletter without my explicit consent? A number of things:
- This person erroneously believes that I don’t know how to do this on my own.
- This person does not make signing up for a newsletter easy to do on his or her site.
- This person is desperate for subscribers.
- This person doesn’t understand that these types of things annoy people.
- This person hasn’t figured out that few people read unsolicited emails.
The best newsletters not only give people a reason to read them, but to pass them along to others in a non-spam way. You don’t need to cram oodles of images and links into regular correspondence for it to be effective. I have seen newsletters with simple text turn out to be much more effective than their overly complex cousins.
So, aside from adhering to permission based marketing, what makes for good email marketing and email newsletters? Try the following tips:
- Don’t oversend. Attention is a prize, so how often should you send your email campaigns? I can’t tell you that I know the precise frequency with which you should send them out, but weekly seems a bit much to me. Annually seems a bit too infrequent. Ideally, you’re somewhere in between. Bi-weekly or monthly seems to make sense. After all, small businesses don’t announce major acquisitions and products. You’re not Google or Facebook.
- Have something to say. Don’t have earth-shattering news? No bother. Did you hire a new employee? Did your product get some good press? What do you think about trends relevant to your industry?
- Keep the newsletters short. It’s important to have your emails be the right length. No one is going to read your 2,000 word newsletter. That’s an opus. Liberally include links to blog posts, new articles or videos, and other relevant content.
- Add graphics where appropriate, but err on the side of simplicity.You don’t need to pepper your correspondence with 20 images, but a few can’t hurt. For instance, I recently added a working image of the cover to my next book in a recent newsletter.
- Add social media integration. Make it as easy as possible for people to share. Yes, I’m talking about icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and (soon to be standard) Google+. Yes, people can cut and paste links very easily these days, but why make them go through that superfluous step?
What say you?
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Phil Simon is a recognized technology expert and writer. He is the author of several books including, most recently, The New Small. He can be followed at http://www.philsimonsystems.com/. Phil is not a Pitney Bowes employee and shares his insights on this blog as a paid contributor.