Today my good friend Alta Peterson over at Alta Peterson Communications has written a wonderful guest post about e-mail marketing. If you think e-mail marketing isn’t for you, think again. Every writer I know uses e-mail marketing once her book comes out to blast an ad with the book cover on the front to all of her contacts. (Don’t have a contact last? Better start building one.) And smart writers use it to more often—quarterly or even monthly—to send a newsletter to their followers. That newsletter could be a blog post or a round-up of best blog posts—whatever you think will interest your readers. But enough from me. Let’s hear what our marketing expert has to say.
Alta Peterson is a marketing and design specialist and web designer and consultant. She has over thirteen years’ experience and helps businesses of all sizes create highly effective communications. She has a degree from the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Minnesota (Go Gophers!), where she studied advertising and marketing. She opened Alta Peterson Communications in 2004. She lives and works in Los Angeles.
One of the best aspects of email marking besides saving trees is measurability. You can see how many people open your messages, and what links caught their interest. This is extremely valuable information you can use to continuously improve your marketing efforts.
I recently attended an email marketing workshop put on by Constant Contact.
Here are some of the rules, guidelines and pointers I picked up.
1. Most importantly: Don’t be a spammer
People hate spammers, so being perceived as one is clearly bad for business. Plus, some forms of it are illegal. In 2003, Congress passed the THE CAN-SPAM Act, banning some of the most annoyingly egregious forms. Here are some additional guidelines.
There are two types of people you can email:
a. Those who already know who you are.
b. Those who have specifically signed up to receive your messages.
It is considered best practice to send only to people who have expressly opted in. Most businesses send to people who know them already, even if they haven’t opted in. The very best practice is to use a double opt-in.
• Publish “unsubscribe” links that are easy to find on every message.
• Opt-out requests must be honored within 10 days.
• Use accurate and non-misleading subject lines.
Read more about The CAN-SPAM Act.
2. Develop and send quality content, and not too often.
Even if the law doesn’t consider you to be a spammer, your readers will unless you provide them with something useful and interesting.
• Sending messages too frequently will cause people to unsubscribe.
• Take the time to develop quality content for your newsletter and messages.
• A good rule of thumb for content is 80% educational and 20% promotional.
• Reading on the screen is 25% slower than in print. Keep things concise.
• You’ll get more readers by sending your messages between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
3. Grow Your Mailing List
Great content is great, but it doesn’t matter if you’re lacking an up-to-date list of interested contacts.
This advice is similar to all other forms of marketing:
• Include a sign-up form on all pages of your site.
• Tell people about your mailing list on the phone.
• Put a sign-up link in your email signature.
• Use social media to promote mailing-list sign up.
4. Subject Line pointers:
• Don’t use generic, spammy sounding phrases such as “special offer for you.”
• Don’t use dollars signs or other symbols.
• Don’t use CAPS!
• Use 5-8 words and never more than 49 characters.
There are several options and levels of pricing, and some even have free versions.
• Mail Chimp has a very nice a clean look and is good if you are doing mainly newsletter type mailings.
• Event Brite has the most sophisticated functionality for organizing events.
• Constant Contact does both but is a bit more complex to manage.
What about you? Have you tried e-mail marketing? Do you receive any e-mail newsletters? Do you have a preference of one company over another? What do you like or dislike about the newsletters you’ve received in the past?