Have you ever visited a website that required you to enter your name and email address to access the information you’re looking for? Of course you have. Everyone wants to collect audience data and add you to their mailing list.
And, if you’ve entered your info, doubtless you’ve been hit by at least one company with not just one weekly or monthly direct newsletter, but dozens. Marketing newsletters from the same website about six different topics, all vaguely within their sales scope. Special offer newsletters for a product you don’t want. ‘Exciting’ announcements about company policy changes, and so on. Sound familiar?
Three days ago I hit ‘unsubscribe’ to a website newsletter — only to have them send me a different newsletter with a different title, company email address, and purportedly different content, just one day later. Worse, there’s nowhere on that company’s website to unsubscribe, or even to choose what newsletters I receive. And this morning? Another newsletter.
This company has pretty much guaranteed that I will never click on their newsletters (except to hunt down the minuscule unsubscribe link) or do business with them again.
This isn’t just aggressive marketing: it’s plain bad manners. It’s the new form of cold-calling at 6pm when the family is sitting down to dinner, six days in a row. It’s thoughtless, primarily selfish marketing that does not genuinely take into consideration the respect you want your clients to have for you, and you want to show your clients.
So if your small business has an email newsletter, or you’re thinking about starting one, take some time to consider how you’re actually presenting yourself to your target market. Here’s just a few ways you can show good email marketing manners and put yourself a sophisticated cut above the competition.
Make it clear what people are signing up for, and how to get out.
If you have a pop-up with a Call to Action offering extra blog content, or a 10% discount on your e-commerce store if they sign up, make sure you explicitly state what newsletter they will receive, how often, and how they can unsubscribe. The last one might make you flinch — tell people how not to talk to you? Yes. Remove suspicion and the expectation that if they give you their personal email address, they’ll never get a moment’s peace. Generate trust and communication rather than just being yet another demanding website.
One of the best newsletters I receive weekly has the very polite statement, “If you’ve learnt enough from my weekly newsletters, click here to unsubscribe.” And that statement works. They’ve shown that they don’t expect me to put up with emails that offer me little value, and they’ve given me a clear way out. And the result? I’ve stayed with that newsletter far longer than many others that don’t have such clear communication in the email footer.
Don’t sign people up for more than one newsletter.
Look at it this way. You may think that sending out a daily newsletter about your product, service or blog may keep your business fresh in mind, interesting, and engaged. So, naturally, the next step would be to create another newsletter about a different facet of your business, and send that out to your entire email database. And then what about special offers? Everyone wants to know about them — so make another newsletter.
No. Don’t do it.
Personal and business email addresses are still private property. Show you respect your audiences’ time, privacy, and interest. If you genuinely need more newsletters as your company expands, or changes products or services — fine. But make it clear, and introduce each newsletter through the original newsletter. For instance, in your weekly email, add a paragraph announcing that your business is creating a secondary newsletter about a secondary topic. Direct people to a landing page where they can sign up for that newsletter, or ask them to return-email with their willingness to receive that secondary newsletter. Do anything but automatically sign them up to your next newsletter.
Being open and honest about why you’re communicating with each customer, and how, is far more likely to generate ongoing goodwill, respect and loyalty than bombarding a half-interested audience with information they simply did not sign up for. Respect your audience.
Keep content interesting, valid and on topic
Sounds easy, right? But look, quite honestly — if you don’t have anything valuable to say, don’t say anything. Rehashing highly-performing older content is fine, especially if you can work up a new spin on it that adds extra value and quality comment, or a fresh argument to a topic. But if you’re just casting around for anything, anything at all to keep sending out your newsletter, then stop.
The internet is glutted with low-value content that is not read or respected. Your newsletter needs to be well above that mass of copy-paste nonsense if it’s going to last, bring your target audience to your site, and generate leads and sales. So again, if you don’t have anything valuable to say, don’t say anything.
If you look through my blog, you’ll notice that I don’t update on a daily or even weekly schedule. This is because I believe in providing valuable content when it’s available, rather than poor quality rehash you could find on a hundred other sites, just for the sake of regular updates. The same goes for email marketing. If you’re trying to develop a reputation for integrity, professionalism, and mutual respect, then your audience will respect your honesty if you say ‘It’s been quiet here, but we’ve just been thinking over this topic and wanted to share it’.
Because really, what do you want to have — a long-term audience receiving one email a month, reading each newsletter with interest and responding to your content the way you want, or a disinterested audience who clicks ‘mark as read’ and moves on?
Email marketing etiquette is not just for email
These are basic principles at work — respect, honesty, communication. But it’s remarkable how often they’re misplaced in the rush for success, website hits, and sales. Often working through a screen does simply remove the awareness that we are not just dealing with data, we are dealing with people. Treat your audience as you would like to be treated, and see what happens. You might be surprised.
For any further information on setting up an email newsletter, blog or regular articles for your small business or website, contact me today.