Let me guess, you get a lot of emails in your inbox from brands that you’d rather not open. Am I right? My inbox is the same way. Recently, instead of just deleting the slew of emails that show up every day, I took the time to open them, not to read them, but to unsubscribe. It felt good; great even.
Purging the brands that I allow access to my inbox was not a sweaty palms decision. Sure, at one point I’d opted-in to all those email lists, but I soon felt betrayed. The emails showed up too frequently and I wasn’t reading them anyways. But the main point, the point I’d like to talk about, is that the content wasn’t useful.
If you’re small business is spending time and other resources on email marketing, you need to create content that will make people, the right people, opt-in, stay and read. You need to give them content that solves their problems and makes their lives better in some way, otherwise, you’re just spam. Even if they don’t unsubscribe; they aren’t reading your message and your email marketing is failing.
Why the email opt-in?
Don’t just collect emails and add them to your e-news list; that’s bad practice. You need to let contacts know how you plan to use their email and give them the option of opting in or out of your email marketing.
Sending unsolicited emails puts your small business at risk for being flagged as spam. Unsolicited emails are annoying; when people are annoyed, they might not take the time to distinguish you from a Nigerian prince trying to get their bank account information. They click the “spam” button and be done with it. And that can cause trouble for the future of your email marketing. I’ve seen small businesses get locked out of their ConstantContact accounts until they can prove they’re not spammers.
It’s not about the size of your email list, it’s about the quality. Email is a great way to reach the right people and generate business. Opting in takes an extra step, in some cases more than one, to sign up to receive your email marketing. If someone takes those extra steps; they want your messages; they’re already interested in your small business and a better lead for you.
Make it easy to unsubscribe so if they aren’t tempted to report you as spam to get you out of their space. Keep your email lists up to date and be sure to honor requests to be removed.
Keep them reading
Once they’ve opted in, keep them reading and engaging by giving them the content they want. They should already know what to expect from you because you’ve made it clear when they opted in how often and what kind of content they’d receive and how often. Be consistent and stay relevant; keep them reading.
Give your audience what they want; you need to understand then. Your small business is unique and so are the readers opting in to your email marketing. When you know your audience, you can give them content that answers their questions, provides solutions and offers the thought leadership they’re looking for. And don’t be afraid to segment your lists for better targeted messages.
You can make your emails more readable by following a few email marketing best practices:
- Create scannable content. When was the last time you read an email all the way through?
- Make it mobile. Yes, most people are reading emails on mobile devices.
- Avoid using too many images; many email clients block images, and those that get through often display incorrectly anyways.
- Clever subject lines never hurt an email marketing campaign’s open rate.
Your email marketing content needs to delight and surprise your audience to keep them paying attention. That doesn’t mean surprising them by sending emails once a day instead of once per week or month as promised. Be thoughtful. Take time to grow your email marketing list organically from opt ins, people who are truly interested in what you have to say. Once you have them, give them content they need, the content they expect from you. Email marketing is an essential tool for small businesses, and the better the lists and content, the better it works.