Think Before You Email

I was speaking with a customer the other day about ways that he could use email marketing to promote his business. He was belt tightening like most businesses today and he finally realized the possible value and low cost of this kind of promotion.

When I first built his site he asked for and I installed a free open source email newsletter management system called PHPList. There have been several visitors sign up and other than the initial welcome email there hasn’t been anything else sent. I explained that since it may have been several months since some of his visitors had signed up, his first email should be an explanation of why he had not written sooner. It’s possible some of his subscribers may have forgotten that they actually signed up and accuse him of spamming them.

My next chore was to talk him out of buying or renting a list of names to send to. It’s always a great temptation to collect a zillion names any way that you can and start sending email “Blasts”. I even hate the term “email blast”. While this method may have once worked very well for any business (and probably still does for some spammers), for most legitimate businesses the costs in terms of loss of your reputation and bad will from your recipients far outweigh any benefit. I have written before of the value of using your own list of names and email addresses.

Finally I mentioned that before he sent anything out that I would like to have a look at it. What I got was just a giant picture that only promoted his business. No text just pictures and nothing that I would call an special offer.

The first thing that I mentioned was that many email clients (Yahoo, Google, etc.) now block images by default, so those folks won’t see anything but a blank page. I also told him that he needed to send something that his recipients would consider valuable. An unadvertised special or a special tip (a trick of the trade) that would benefit his readers. I advised him to look at his email from his customers point of view and ask himself this question if he wanted to grow his subscriber list and business. Is this email something that I would consider passing on to one of my friends or family?

Here’s an interesting follow up article by Loren McDonald on the email Insider called

Are Your Emails ‘Shareworthy’?

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