I’ve been in the music business for over a quarter century, and one of the ways I cultivated the much heralded “following” that so many people talk about was through my newsletter, which was sent out every couple of months, or whenever I had the time to sit down and stuff envelopes, lick stamps, and generally get a few hundred letters ready to tote to the post office.
No one was more grateful than I when the internet began its meteoric rise to the forefront of American popular culture in the mid 90s, and I made sure to keep up with the times. I began requesting email addresses, and before long had managed to transpose many of the folks on my mailing list over to the email list. It became much easier and cheaper to communicate, and as a result I was able to do so more frequently. Over time we figured out the best way to stay in touch, the proper amount of time between emails, they type of content folks were looking to receive from me, etc. My email list became a vital part of my continued success in the music field, and I was fortunate enough not to make too many missteps that ended up losing subscribers.
Of course not everybody is that lucky, or that smart. It is quite easy to derail your email marketing efforts through a few well places screw ups. You have to remember that it is your clients who are in control here, and with the click of a mouse they can be gone forever. It is important to be aware of what is of concern to them, and how to avoid making bad decisions when composing your email marketing plan.
For starters, they have to remember you. If you get someone’s email address and then it is six months before they hear from you, don’t be surprised if you are hearing a chorus of collective “Huhs?” out there. It’s all those folks scratching their head trying to place you. Once you get somebody’s email, be sure to at least follow up with a thank you…something to keep your brand name in front of them.
You bury them with messages. Most people will accept a monthly or even a weekly message…but if you start pummeling them with daily e-mail blasts with little or nothing in the way of substance, don’t be surprised when they back up on you. Devise a regular, yet unobtrusive email schedule and stick to it. There may be occasional exceptions if you have an offer that is just too good to let slip by, but overall, be respectful of your clients and their time.
They are just not that into you. You have to make your emails interesting. We’ve all been guilty of sending out an email blast just because it’s time to do so, even if we don’t have anything of substance to talk about. Those were also the ones that usually generated unsubscribe requests. Have something of value to offer your clients in the e-mail. If they see value in it, they will accept it, and you remain looking good!
They get turned off by the non stop sales pitch. I know the conventional wisdom in sales is known as “ABC” or Always Be Closing. This is death in email marketing. An overly aggressive sales approach will be turned off faster than scalding water on your hand. Ease up and take some of your opportunities to simply provide valuable information, tips, or advice. Ask for their business when it is appropriate, but don’t shoehorn it into everything you send.
They want relevant information. Know your customer’s preferences, and channel your email marketing efforts in that direction. I have an avid interest in cars, but knowing that my clients signed up for my list to follow my musical career, I correctly guessed that they wouldn’t be very interested in my opinion of the newest sports car innovations for the 2013 model year. Channel your efforts into where their interests lie.
They want a user experience that works. Nothing is more frustrating than receiving an email hocking a product or service that you are really interested in, only to find that the links don’t work, or when they do, they send you to the wrong place. You should always test any email marketing internally, or maybe on a few close friends, before sending it out en masse.
They want a rapid user experience. Nothing grinds my gears more than a page that takes forever to load. I am one of those who click back out after a few seconds. It is better to go light on the graphics and create a page that does not gobble up bandwidth like a cyber version of the shark in JAWS. Either that, or deploy the message in smaller segments.
They are a mobile market. If you aren’t tailoring your email blasts to show up well on mobile apps, then you are making a big mistake. More and more people read their email on mobile, so make sure you design the effort with mobile in mind.
They don’t want to see their own data fed back to them. It is one thing to personalize an e-mail, but it is another to list too much of the customer’s private information. They will no doubt wonder what else you are doing with it besides sending it through email channels where one wrong keystroke may share it all with the world. They need to know that their data is protected and that you will not take advantage of that trust.
They expect you to get it right. Sending orders to the wrong person, or worse, billing the wrong person for goods or services is a great way to send clients scampering for their unsubscribe buttons. Always make sure to keep accurate records and make sure that all information is correct before hitting the SEND button. That whole “ounce of prevention” concept really comes into play here.