7 email marketing tips

Email in a boxIf you’ve grown a healthy list of people who have an interest in what you’ve got to offer you’ll need to do something to build and maintain your relationship with them.  You might have them in your customer relationship management (CRM) system or they might have signed up with your online form and be held in a MailChimp, AWeber, Get Response, Constant Contact or similar online system.  Wherever they are – these tips apply!

Tip 1:              Don’t send out spammy sales pitches.  You hate getting them so why would anyone else take any notice of them.  It’s the quickest way of getting people to unsubscribe (and maybe getting your online system account suspended).  Offer value in every email.

Tip 2:              Create a good subject line – this is what gets people to open your message.  If it says something boring like ‘Acme Newsletter July 2014’ why would anyone except your Mum open it?  Be creative to intrigue your reader and use subject lines that get them to want to find out more.

Tip 3:              Personalise your opening.  Dear Jo is so much better than Dear Customer or, worse, Dear firstname.  If you’ve got people on your list you should know their name, using something generic says you’re spamming them.  If you have not managed to get people’s names during the sign up process, change your form NOW so you do in future, for now don’t use any salutation; it’s better than something generic.

Tip 4:              Start with value that’s relevant. We all get so much information to process these days that anything that doesn’t get attention quickly simply doesn’t get read.  If you know your audience well you can create something that will be relevant to them right in the first paragraph.  If you find it tough to do this then, at the very least, use that paragraph to get them engaged.  This might be talking about their problems and indicating that there is a solution coming.

Tip 5:              Don’t talk about yourself or your company.  You may be proud of the award you just won or the new staff you’ve hired, but your customers (and potential customers) aren’t really that interested.  They’re interested in what they’ll get and how you can improve their lives in some way, stay focused on what’s in it for them.

Tip 6:              Keep it short and simple (KISS).  Don’t fall into the trap of rambling on at length; remember how many emails your reader may have to get through, they don’t have time to read a lot.  Be considerate of their time and they’ll appreciate it.  A good marketing email should be able to get the message across in less than 250 words.  And, yes, I know that the American online marketers write much longer emails than that, but they are for a very specific market and bear in mind they go out in hundreds of thousands.  You’ll turn more people off than you engage with long content.  Stick to simple, plain English and your message will get through better.

Tip 7:              One message is not enough.  Some people are too busy when message 1 lands and simply never get around to reading it.  If you send a series of emails at intervals with the same subject, but different wording you’ll reinforce the message for those who read all the message and still reach those people who miss one or two.  I recommend a minimum of 3 messages, but 5 would be even better at 8-10 day intervals.

If you follow these tips you’ll be when on the way to really effective email campaigns.

The pros and cons of Newsletters

NewsletterThere are two ways to look at newsletters – whether they arrive in the post or, more likely, in your inbox – as the sender or as the receiver!

It’s interesting that people who complain about the amount of spam email and post they get still send out newsletters to their contact list without due consideration of whether the recipient will find it useful.  If you suspect that you may be guilty of this (even a little bit) it’s time to step back and see things from the receiver’s perspective.

Ask yourself some leading questions:

Does the subject line or main headline encourage people to open it?

‘Acme Widgets Newsletter August 2014′  isn’t exactly exciting – or enlightening; any people will delete this unopened.  To get attention and improve your chance of people opening your email or starting to read your publication you need something intriguing, engaging or something that people want to know about.  To make your newsletter successful and be consistently opened issue after issue you’ll want to develop the art of writing brilliant ‘Open me’ statements.

The one that just landed in my inbox – and made me open it had a subject line that said:

44% of businesses do NOT have a Social Media Policy or Guidelines

That was something I wanted to know more about, so I opened it!

NewslettersDoes it look fresh, attractive and interesting?

If, when people open your email or the envelope your newsletter has arrived in, it looks boring people make the assumption that the content is boring too.  Whilst I’m not suggesting a rebrand, even if you have a fairly conservative brand image, the layout or template you use can lift the look and feel of your publication.  Most of us are influenced by visual perceptions so how it looks it really important.

That doesn’t mean it should have every colour of the rainbow and feature lots of coloured boxes with information in, but it does, at least, need to look fresh and modern, not tired and old-fashioned.

Magnifying valueDoes it lead with value?

If your first article is all about you (or your business) and what you’ve been doing, then don’t expect to keep your reader’s attention for long.  Most of us are too busy to invest time in anything that doesn’t add value – so ensure that you open with your main article and give the reader what you’ve led them to expect in the subject line/headline.

Once you’ve delivered value people are usually open to other information such as promotions or offers.

Something to think about …

If people have signed up to your list voluntarily they’ve done so for a reason.  These days this is usually because you’ve offered them an ethical bribe – a document that provides them with information they’ve identified as useful.  You need to continue that if you are sending these same people a newsletter.  It’s likely that they’ll be interested in the same kind of information around allied subjects.  Your newsletter is about relationship management, and you’ll only build a strong relationship with your reader if you keep delivering what they want.

If you’ve put people on your list because you’ve met them networking, you should really get their permission first.  Giving you a business card does not constitute permission!  The problem with creating a list from random contacts is that their interest spectrum is likely to be vast.  If, for instance, you are an outsourced HR service, many of the contacts you may have met are sole traders and don’t have staff.  That means they are probably not going to be interested in your areas of expertise so your general newsletter is likely to be seen as spam.

However, if you create a specific newsletter for networking connections to share useful information that is a very different situation and can be a really valuable resource.

Is your newsletter short and punchy or long and tedious?

Long blogs are fine – in fact, the latest research indicates that people like longer blogs – but long newsletters are unlikely to get the same level of attention.  When we’re opening the post or checking our email most of us are in ‘skimming’ mode.  If we see something that interests or intrigues us, we’ll give it a quick once over, but it has to be good and easy to consume to keep our attention.  What’s your reaction when you receive something that looks lengthy?  At best – maybe ‘I’ll read this later’.  How often does it then disappear into the heap of things that might be vaguely interesting – to be completely forgotten?

If you’ve got lots of valuable information to share write a blog and then share the opening paragraph and link to it.  If your opener is good enough people will click through to read.

… and don’t forget …

You do need to provide a means for people to unsubscribe – and a way for you to ensure you don’t add them back to the list yourself when they’ve already taken themselves off it.

When you’ve created your newsletter – take a step out of your own shoes and ask yourself ‘if this landed in my inbox (or on my doormat) – would it attract me enough to open it and how would the content really add value for me?’

You know what the answer should be!

 

The right social media for your business

Social media wears many hats – the secret is knowing which ‘outfits’ to wear them with!  Let’s take a look at the biggest platforms and examine how they work – for relationships, business, job hunting and more.

Facebook is VERY social and chatty and people share their personal stuff on their personal accounts.  Some people share their most intimate information and others are much more circumspect and share only the surface information.  To some extent this depends on who you’ve accepted as friends and how you want to be perceived by those people.

I use my personal account for social stuff mostly, chatting with friends and family.  However, I do post the occasional business post, usually when there’s some freebies available.  My connections are a mix of friends, family, business connections (I was on Facebook before Pages were invented) and some people I don’t know as I believe in random connections, you don’t know who knows who!  That means that I am careful what I post and don’t get into very personal conversations online.

As Facebook owns Instagram anything you upload to Instagram is easy to share in your Facebook stream too.

Facebook Pages are different and are perfect for business that sell directly to the consumer.  The craft community find that Facebook is a great arena for their products as people are always looking for unusual gifts for their nearest and dearest.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a Facebook Page if you are a business that sells to other businesses.  It’s an ideal place to host a community and get involved with your clients, answer questions and be the fount of all information on your products and services.  It personalises your business and lets you engage directly with your customers (and potential customers).

However, don’t try selling at people on your Facebook Page.  Now and again an offer or promotion works well, but if all you do is say ‘buy this, buy that’ your audience won’t engage at all.

Sharing tips, testimonials (let other people say how good you are) and special deals exclusively for your Facebook community will help your Page to come to life.

LinkedIn is much more business-oriented, but it depends on whether you are using it:

  • To promote your business
  • To search for a new job
  • As an employee

Your profile will need writing differently depending on which purpose you choose.  If you’re promoting your business then your profile will need optimising for the keywords you want to be found by and the content in your summary and your current and previous roles needs to focused on presenting your skills effectively.

If you’re job hunting your profile will need optimising for the roles you are searching for and your current and previous roles will need presenting in a way that attracts a potential employer.

As an employee you’ll be walking the tightrope between promoting your current employer and yourself.

Engagement on LinkedIn is more about sharing good quality content and engaging in groups where your target audience are active

Twitter is more instant and random – think of it as joining up the dots between large numbers of people so you extend your reach.  If you share lots of high value content you’ll find people start to rate you as an expert and will recommend you to others they’re connected to.

What’s high value content?  Tips, advice and ‘how to’ information.  Obviously, there is a limit to how much you can say in 140 characters (aim for 115 so there’s room for retweets and comments), but always include a link to the longer version of your tweets, whether that’s a blog on your website (or someone else’s) or a page on your website with relevant information.  I often tweet links to my Treasure Chest and free Video Tutorial so people can get access to lots of good quality free stuff.

Don’t broadcast only; be generous share tweets you like and links to good blogs by retweeting, mention people, aim to be helpful and connect people up where you can.

 

Google+ is more of an information sharing platform.  People tend to write longer content and it tends to be a place where people form communities around common interests.  It’s less businessy than LinkedIn, but not as personal as Facebook.  The ability to post to a select circle of people makes it useful for sharing information with specific groups of people.

One of the big attractions of Google+ is the Hangouts, a video conferencing/chat facility that lets several people have online video discussions in real time.  Think how that might work for your business!  What could you do with a regular hangout to engage existing clients, potential customers and advocates?

Pinterest is often discounted as being a bit of fun and not a business platform.  Think again, the stats say that sales from Pinterest users produce nearly double the per head income!

The success of your Pinterest account is based on whether you have your boards organised so it’s easy for people to find what you’re offering.  Whilst creative titles for boards are fun, they don’t help when someone types in what they’re looking for and your board name is too obscure for it to show up in their search.

Use the 500 character text allowance to market whatever you pin.  Another tip is to ensure all your own product/service images appear on your own website and pin from your website rather than uploading.  That way you get lots of links back to your website

YouTube is not only owned by Google, which gives it loads of brownie points, but it is second only to Google as a search engine.  When people want to know how to do things they often type it into YouTube to get instructions.

If you’re into video and can produce reasonable short videos having a YouTube channel is a must.  Videos don’t have to be long, nor do they have to feature you personally.

If you hate standing in front of the camera create a slide presentation and narrate it with appropriate music – but beware of death by PowerPoint!  Use lots of images and only enough words on screen for people to get the message.

There are more and more companies offering sensible prices for short videos too now.

A word of warning

Don’t try to be everything to everybody on all these platforms.  Think about your ideal customers or clients, where are they most likely to be active – that’s where you need to be focused.  Get really good at a couple rather than skimming the surface on all of them.

 

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