[This is part 9 (the final installment) of the series "Debunking the Myths of E-Mail Marketing."]
The number one thing I hear from business owners when I talk about email marketing is “I don’t want to annoy my customers.” Neither do I! And the good news is it’s REALLY EASY not to do this.
Permission marketing is a term made popular by Seth Godin with his book of the same name. At it’s very basic level, it simply means you ask for and get explicit permission from people to market to them.
This concept manifests in many ways, but most poignantly in e-mail marketing. This is where the concept not only makes a lot of sense, but absolutely shines!
So picture this… you walk up to a person at a networking event and they ask you, “What to you do?” You tell them, “I am a small business accountant,” or “I help businesses with their Internet marketing,” or “We help homeowners going through life changing events to de-clutter their homes in order to cope better.” Then you ask “Would you like to learn more about what I do for my customers?” If they answer yes they have just given you permission to deliver your marketing message to them.
The same goes for electronic marketing. If a visitor on your web site enters their email in a form and clicks the button that says “Add me to your newsletter,” you can safely assume that they want to hear what you have to say!
So as long as you only add people to your email list who have given their explicit permission you will not be spamming them when you send out your emails.
Another very important point is that you have to make good on your promise. The people on your list have said they trust you, and you need to protect that and respect it. You need to add value to their lives, not just sell to them. Nobody wants to walk into a place and get pounced on by a sales person. It’s creepy and annoying. Help people, they will learn to trust you, they will respect you and they will buy from you.
Once you have proven that you are trustworthy and have earned their respect, more and more people will want to join your list. Your list will grow… and you will do it all without annoying anyone.
Emailing your customers every day is probably going to be too much, and you will definitely annoy them. Unless of course that is their expectation. For example you might offer a daily tip of some kind. As long as your subscribers signed up knowing that’s what they were getting, then it’s a perfectly awesome way to stay in front of them!
However, if you are offering a newsletter, you want to be more discerning. Besides it’s time consuming and unless you have 4 hours a day to write newsletters, it’s not practical. I personally send my big robust newsletter once a month. I know folks who send theirs once a week. Both are fine, do whatever you can handle and your customers want/need/will accept.
On the other end, you can’t wait too long between emails. Some of your subscribers, especially the new ones, will forget they signed up for your list if you wait three months to send them the next one. They may even think you added them without permission and report you for spamming them.
So be practical and respectful of your audience. Somewhere between twice a week and once a month is reasonable.
My definition of spam is “Repeatedly send people irrelevant, ad-filled junk e-mail without their permission and without giving them a way to unsubscribe.” (Here’s the Wikipedia definition if you’re interested.)
You probably picked out the key components…
3. without permission
4. without an unsubscribe option
The bottom line is if you avoid all of these nasty things, you will be on the right track. Go for it.
Thank you for reading all 9 installments of this series. It was a lot of fun to write and I hope it helped you ignite your desire to do e-mail marketing. Truly it is the number one way to do effective internet marketing, and no small business should be without it in their e-marketing mix!
If you have any questions at all, just post a comment in the box below and let me know, and I’ll be happy to answer you. Or email me privately.
Who doesn’t love seeing those words? “FREE EBOOK!” We are all thirsty for knowledge and at the same time wary of spending money to buy a book and then realizing it’s not what we’d hoped.
As a consumer, I love free eBooks because I can look at the content and see if it’s what I need. If not it’s no big deal, I just delete it and move on.
As a marketer, I also love free eBooks. For one, it helps get my name out there, and positions me as an expert in my field. It’s a great credibility boost, as I mentioned in last week’s radio interview with Dale Little. For another, it can be a great motivator for a call to action on a landing page or web site.
Some may disagree, but using a free download of any kind is a great way to get people to sign up for a mailing list. As we all know, getting people to opt-in to our lists is no easy task, and is near impossible if they see no clear and immediate benefit to doing so. Having a free eBook to offer just makes it all that much easier.
In fact, I got an email from a young university student in the UK yesterday telling me she downloaded my ebook and wanted to include it in the bibliography for one of her research projects. Even though it’s academic, it’s still a form of sharing, and as such it adds a social element to the ebook.
Free ebooks can take another form. This kind is completely free with no restrictions except the reader is not allowed to plagiarize the book or accept money in exchange for it, or any part of it. It’s freely distributable, and the author/publisher does not require an email address or mailing list sign up or the submittal of any other information about themselves in exchange for accepting the book. The purpose of this form is to promote yourself, or a product or service you provide.
I created three types of eBooks recently.
In January I published a complete guide for small business owners to help them understand what goes into the process of designing a good web site. This book is available in the Amazon Kindle store for $4.
Then I cut out the details and left only about half the content, which included the core concepts and a little bit of meat, but not too much. I also added more promotional content at the end of the book, to include more information about how the reader could benefit by using my services (or reading my pay-for book). This version is called the abridged version, and is available for free as a gift when the reader signs up for my mailing list.
And finally, I made a completely free version of the same book, which anybody can simply download from my web site and freely distribute. This version has the most promotional information in it. I completely cut several chapters, and a lot more of the meat. I sprinkled various promotional messages throughout the content which tell the reader how they can get more info about that particular topic at various and sundry online locations. Those web sites further attempt to sell the visitor my services.
This last book just came out two weeks ago and I have not done a good job of promoting it… yet. But you can get it here if you want.
So you can hopefully see the various levels of usefulness for each of these different types of eBooks. Try them all to see what works for you as a marketer. You may get different results depending on the type of customers you have, but you won’t know until you try.
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