Email marketing remains one of the best ways to grow your business, online and off. While the basic idea is very simple – collect email addresses and send them content that promotes your business – making it actually work for your business requires that you know, and follow, some general guidelines.
The 10 Most Important Guidelines for Email Marketing:
1. Only add people to your list who have given you permission to email them. Purchasing a list of addresses works when you are doing direct mail, but not when it comes to email. Emailing people who haven’t given you permission isn’t just bad business practice, it is actually against the law (see The CAN-SPAM and You in sidebar).
2. Require a “Double-optin.” When email addresses are collected via an online form, the person must click a link in an email sent to their email address before they are added to your list. This prevents invalid addresses from being added to your list and also acts as “proof” that someone requested to be on your list.
3. Keep your list updated. You have 10 business days to remove people who request to be unsubscribed from your list (and don’t even THINK about emailing them again). Remove addresses that bounce or are otherwise undeliverable as well.
4. Email regularly. People WILL forget about you if there is a large gap between your emails. When they forget who you are, they are more likely to unsubscribe when you do send them another message.
5. Send what your subscribers signed up for. If you invited people to join a “monthly newsletter” and you are now sending daily promotion emails, people are going to be unhappy and will likely unsubscribe. Keep your subscribers happy by simply sending what they signed up for.
6. Personalize your messages as much as possible. Email Service Providers have lots of tools to make it easy to add names and personal details to your email messages. The more personalized, the less it feels like marketing.
7. Send exclusive content to your list. If you publish a blog, don’t just re-purpose your content and send it out to your email list as well. Make your email messages unique in some way: give them an extra bonus, or an exclusive tip, or even just allow them to be the “first” to view what you write.
8. Take care of your subscribers when you take a vacation. Your subscribers needs don’t stop just because you need to take a break. Use the schedule feature to send out emails while you are away getting your much needed rest and relaxation.
9. Back up your list. Equipment fails, companies go out of business, accounts are compromised. Make sure the valuable emails in your list are backed up regularly. Set up your backup system to leave out those who have unsubscribed; you don’t want to be tempted to email them again.
10. Track your ROI. Email marketing does work, but it works best when it meets the needs of your subscribers and your business. Only by tracking the effectiveness of what you do will you be able to know what is working and what isn’t.
Know and understand the guidelines that govern email marketing and your marketing efforts will be much more effective.