An e-newsletter can help your business in many ways. It can help you keep in touch with existing clients, bring you new clients, showcase your expertise and increase awareness of your products and services. And while you can (and should!) post links to your publications on your social media profiles, websites and blogs, your mailing list will be your primary distribution method. A robust list of interested readers will help you achieve your business goals and ultimately grow your bottom line. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when building this list.
- Keep your list ‘clean’
One of the primary “terms and agreements” that you agree to when contracting with an Email Service Provider is that you will only mail to people that have expressed interest in receiving your publication. Adding every contact in your address book and the names of people that did not request your e-newsletter or will no longer recognize your name is in violation of this agreement. It will also lead to low open rates and, more importantly, make you vulnerable to SPAM reports. And if that isn’t enough to dissuade you, many Email Service Providers will base your monthly charge on the number of contacts on your list, making bloated lists both less effective AND more expensive.
- Segment your list
For ease of management, segment your list BEFORE you upload it. While you can re-categorize addresses once they have been added, it is much easier to do so before they are uploaded. For more on this topic, see my article “3 Ways to Use List Segmentation to Ensure Success with Your E-Newsletter”.
- Gather names legitimately from all venues
Add a sign-up box to your website, blog, social media profiles, etc. (Place this ‘above the fold’ on the top half of your page, wherever possible for optimal visibility). And as you meet people, collect their contact info and ask them if they wish to receive your e-newsletter.
- Decide, early on, if you will be using personalized fields in your mailings.
Personalized fields allow you to include greetings such as “Dear Mr. Potter” or “Hello Harry” in your mailings. If you would like to use this type of personalization, you will need to collect and structure your lists to include it. While there are default settings, such as “Greetings”, for people that you do not have full contact info for, if you are going to regularly include personalization, make sure to collect and/or input full names as you gather your addresses. Going in after the fact and trying to add names is often difficult (figuring out the first and last name of catlover@ yahoo can be vexing) and time consuming.
- Don’t buy mailing lists
This goes back to the point made in item 1. If you send something to someone that did not request it, it is legitimately considered SPAM. And that is not a good thing. Enough said.
A small list of legitimately collected contacts will grow quickly if you are publishing useful information. This is much more valuable than a huge list of meaningless contacts and will create a more stable foundation on which to build a successful online marketing campaign.
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