It seems like I can’t buy a roll of aluminum foil these days without a sales associate asking for my email address. When this happens, I’ll do one of three things: say “no,” give the hotmail account that I opened in middle school and check once a year or, if it is something I am actually interested in, give out my current email address. The latter usually ends in me unsubscribing or blocking the sender within weeks after I tire of deleting their emails littering my inbox. This is not to say that email marketing doesn’t work on me; it does.
We used to have more fun
It might not be the sexiest tool in the box, but email is still very useful for certain tasks. Email is not what it used to be; we don’t even punctuate it like we used to. It used to be the best way to quickly communicate with friends and family, but that is not true anymore. Along came Facebook, and sorry, email, you’ve been replaced. However, when I go online, the first thing I do is open my email account, and I’m not alone. Even with an increase in social media use, email use is increasing. Who is using email? Everyone. Email use continues to grow in popularity with an older demographic, and while social media might be more popular with a younger demographic, they still use it. Even social media platforms use email as a way to notify users that there has been activity, prompting them back to the social media sites because, even Google+ knows, a message sent to an email inbox gets noticed.
Just between us
When I give out an email address, it’s an invitation to my private space. You have my permission to communicate with me directly; this is more powerful than me just clicking a “Like” button on Facebook or a “Follow” button on Twitter. With social media, there is no guarantee that I will even look at your content. Sending an email guarantees I will. Every message that comes to my inbox, I process. I look at it and decide if I read it, file it, delete it. With social media, thousands of messages are posted daily, messages I don’t even attempt to keep up with. So, if you annoy me with email, you’ll lose that permission. Ending an email relationship is very simple, and I do it with much less consideration than giving out my email in the first place. Because of how easy it is, it is necessary to be sure the information in your outbox is something that potential customers want in their inboxes. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
Be sure all the content you send is relevant and meaningful.
Use targeted lists, if you can, to pinpoint the exact audience you are trying to market to. Ask potential customers to opt-in. Having people opt-in can ensure email recipients understand what they are signing up for and that they want your content. Once people have opted-in, don’t use it as an opportunity to send them just any news, be sure you send what they have asked for. Although I delete more messages each week from LivingSocial than any other sender, I continue to look at messages they send because I’ve asked for it, and I knew what to expect when I signed up.
Be considerate of people’s time.
Even if your recipients want your emails, be mindful of how often you send them. Keep the message brief, make it easy to scan, and create links to more information wherever possible. Long messages are likely to go unread. Keep in mind that many people now access their emails from smart phones.
Use email marketing tools.
A mass email distribution tool will provide you with easy to use reports that show you who and how many have opted out, your read rate, what links have been clicked, and more. They allow you to create specific lists of recipients, making it easy to manage who gets what information. They give emails a professional look and provide templates that help organize information neatly. Examples of such programs include ConstantContact, Emma, and MailChimp.
Your outbox should be a positive reflection on your company and a testimony to how mindful you are about your target market. Consider every email message you send, and potential customers will be pleased, not annoyed, to see your company name in their inboxes, even if you aren’t offering coupons, but coupons always help!