By Peter Lyle DeHaan , PhD
Email marketing is a cost-effective and simple way to reach out to touch clients and customers. But just because it’s cheap and easy, this doesn’t mean it’s always a good idea. When done wrong, email marketing can alienate the audience you’re trying to cultivate.
Here are five tips for successful email marketing:
Send Only Useful Messages: Several years ago I had the grand idea of using an email-marketing program to inform and engage advertisers and potential advertisers for my magazines. When I began working on the next issue, I emailed them with the theme and deadlines. A week before the due date, I sent a reminder. When the magazine went to print, I dashed off an update, and when it mailed, I let them know.
This lasted two issues. Although sending the messages seemed free, it cost me time. Plus I worried about becoming a nuisance. And in those early days of email marketing, I couldn’t tell who was reading what I sent.
I scaled back my messages to one per issue. That initial email letting them know the theme and deadlines was what mattered most. Besides, if I emailed less often, they would be more apt to read what I did send.
What are the messages that matter most to your audience?
Segment Your Audience: I quickly fell into a rhythm of sending out one mass email per issue, but it wasn’t as smooth as I wished. It seemed that no matter how carefully I worded my message, someone would be confused. This resulted in more communication to clear up my miscommunication.
The problem was that I tried to make one message work for everyone: regular advertisers, occasional advertisers, and potential advertisers. A message for regular advertisers might confuse the occasional ones and vice versa. Alternately, a message encouraging potential advertisers to run an ad might cause regular advertisers to make wrong assumptions about their status. To solve this, I divided my list into three groups in order to send specific messages tailored to each particular audience.
Your biggest client is different from your smallest, and both are different from your prospects. How should your list be segmented?
Send Only Wanted Messages: Twenty percent of my magazine readers receive their subscription electronically. I email them when a new issue is available to view, download, or read online. As part of their subscription, we also send an occasional email message relevant to the industry that has a high likelihood to be of interest. So that we don’t overwhelm or irritate readers, we send no more than one additional email per month. If you’re like me, you’ve unsubscribed from publications you liked simply because they contacted you too often.
What type of messages does your audience want? Which ones do they just delete?
Allow Unsubscribes: Even though it’s a legal requirement to provide a means to unsubscribe, I’m shocked at how many email marketers don’t. Plus, a few let you try to unsubscribe, but they don’t follow through.
Allow for and honor unsubscribes. It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the law.
Don’t Spam: Though I have no firsthand experience in this regard, it’s apparently easy to buy an email database. It’s also common for companies to harvest contact information and send you messages you don’t want. (I know because it happens to me all the time.) These messages are spam; no one likes a spammer.
In your zeal to market, make sure you don’t spam your list or look like a spammer.
When you send useful and wanted messages to your segmented list, allow for unsubscribes, and avoid spamming, you are ahead of most companies. You are providing the right amount of contact, and your email marketing is poised to succeed.