In 2000 I started my first business, Massachusetts 4 Sale By Owner. In those days, for-sale-by-owner was a new concept to Western Mass residents. I needed to find a way to reach out to people and provide ongoing education about the real estate sales process. Being banned from advertising by local newspapers, I turned to a new tool called "email marketing" to help. I used my magazine, (Picket Fence Preview of Western Mass*) and my website to encourage sellers to sign up for my newsletter in order to learn about upcoming workshops, special promotions and educational resources.
What I learned was this: Email marketing worked and it worked very well. Everywhere I went, people would say, "I'm on your mailing list", or "I love getting your emails!" It was not unusual for a new home seller would walk into my office with a magazine tucked under his arm and exclaim, "I've been following you through your newsletter for three years . . . .we're now ready to sell and we want to use your services."
Email marketing allows us to build and keep relationships unlike social media or our websites. It's cost effective, easy to use, looks professional, and you own it. What are you doing to build YOUR list?
* The magazine was retired in 2008 as the business moved to an Internet model. Today, the website uses social media to promote its listings.
I just opened an email from a business acquaintance who works for a local printing company. I expected it to be a personal message, as I had not signed up to be on his company's mailing list. The first thing I noticed was that it was not personal at all. Instead of seeing my name and email address and a personal greeting, it was SENT TO: "undisclosed recipients" -- a bulk email.
To be fair to this individual, his company does not provide much in the way of marketing support. He's doing the best he can to reach potential customers, but is he missing an opportunity to really connect with his audience? Absolutely.
Here are 5 things he could have done better:
1) Don't send me spam: Understand the CAN-SPAM Act and don't send me unsolicited email. Anyone receiving a promotional email from your business should have given permission to receive it AND an opportunity to "unsubscribe" from your list at any time, with no questions asked.
2) Use a personal greeting: Do you think of yourself as an "undisclosed recipient?" Of course not. We like to be addressed by our names, not as part of a "one size fits all" group greeting. Every chance we have to build a better relationship with our customers and prospective customers should be seen as an opportunity.
3) Use pictures: Yes, they are worth a thousand words. SHOW me a cute puppy pic that reminds me of the holidays, and you'll have my attention. At the very least, show me some of your cards and WOW me. A paragraph of plain text won't do it for me.
4) Make me an offer: Don't make me read your email twice to find out what you're selling and don't assume I know your products. Why do I care that you offer Birchcraft cards? What does that name mean to me? How much is envelope return address printing worth?
5) Make me respond: Get me to act - to email you back, click to order your holiday card, give me a special promo code or coupon to make me feel special. And be sure to give me a deadline. A promotional email is different than an informational email, but a "call to action" response tells us if our customers are engaging with us.
The problem with using a standard email client like Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, is that it is not set up to do what our marketing campaigns require. Email marketing is about reaching out to an audience who wants to hear from us, tailoring a message that is valuable to them; one that will elicit a physical, measurable response. Oh, and keep in mind . . . .keep those cute puppy pics handy!
Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources.