I get emails about once or twice a week from a business whose name I won’t mention updating me about recent developments and always ending in a sales pitch that amounts to little more than a plea for me to use their service.
You probably get these emails, too, and like me, you probably ignore them. Somehow you landed on their mailing list — a clever or initially intriguing offer or ad, usually — and are now slowly losing interest in and patience with the business.
So many small businesses, especially online businesses, rely on mass email for marketing themselves to the public and, to the chagrin and frustration of all the recipients on their contact lists, have no idea how to run an email marketing campaign.
There’s nothing inherently ineffective about email; in fact, email campaigns can be very useful and can drive substantial business — if conducted correctly. If you’re a small business owner thinking about starting an email marketing campaign, here are some ground rules to follow, to keep your emails from becoming part of the chaff that floods all our inboxes daily:
Variety is a virtue
The biggest mistake you can make is to use email for the same purpose, over and over and over and over and over and … well, you get the idea. Sales emails are especially annoying and are embarrassingly transparent. When launching a mass email campaign consider using it to:
Survey your customers
If you’re lucky enough to have a customer base, don’t inundate them with sales emails; instead, involve them in your business by taking surveys about an issue you’re having trouble resolving on your own. Should you go public? Do you need a new logo? Does your old product need to be revitalized or euthanized? These (and others like it) are all questions that your customers can help you answer. And if you include them, they’ll be more likely to buy your products, on principle alone.
Help your customers
Now there’s a novel idea. You want to establish yourself as a kind of defender of your customer’s values and an expert willing to mentor him or her, rather than a traveling salesman hawking snake oil. It will behoove you to occasionally send out an email just giving your customers expert advice they can take or news that is relevant to them. Give them something that they can use and they might want to stick with you, again, on principle alone.
Chances are, you have clientele from a number of different backgrounds; don’t insult them by sending out emails that they won’t care about. Research your customer demographics and send out emails to each of the demographic groups. Communicate with them on as personal a level as you can, and they will feel more important to your business. Treat them like a means to an end and they’ll put an end to your emails.
Keep your list current
Don’t keep sending emails to people who don’t care. At least once a month, figure out who isn’t reading your emails, and take them off your list. Most email management programs keep track of whether recipients open mail or not. If you see a zero next to any name, scratch the name. They will appreciate it, and might even come back as a customer.
Much like everything else, there is an art to emailing. But launch your campaigns with the customer in mind and you’ll see that a little bit of consideration goes a long way.
About the Author: This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: angelita.williams7 @gmail.com.
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