We all know the benefits of sending out an email newsletter to our prospects and clients. In the following article we will look at some housekeeping rules which will ensure that you follow the strict etiquette of internet marketing, while presenting yourself and your business in a professional and ethical way.
Make sure your subscribers actually subscribed
There is nothing more annoying than being inundated with unsolicited sales emails. We all hate it. If you are boosting your subscriber list by adding email addresses from business cards you have picked up, trawling the yellow pages or your local Chamber of Commerce’s mailing list, your messages risk not only going straight to the junk mail folder, but also alienating people with whom you might have established good working relationships. Make sure the owner of the email address has requested that you send them information, or, at the very least, has agreed to receive it.
A ‘Double Opt-in’ System
If you use a proper ezine delivery service such as 1 Shopping Cart, Constant Contact, Aweber or Vertical Response, your subscribers will go through what is known as a ‘double opt-in’. This means that, after submitting their email address through your website form or other link asking them to sign up for your newsletter, they will receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription by clicking on a link within it. This is key, as it stops third parties from adding subscribers without their knowledge.
Use A Proper Email Delivery System
When you first start sending out email newsletters, it is very tempting to send them using your normal email delivery service, such as Outlook. After all, it is free and already there on your desktop. However, internet service providers frown upon mass mailing, and you will find very quickly that your email address will be blacklisted and you may be banned from sending any email. There are many legitimate ezine delivery services available whose costs are minimal; use one to manage your mailing list.
Send Messages At Reasonable Intervals
Do not use your ezine in the same way as you would Twitter or a blog. Your subscribers have given you permission to send them information, but, if you abuse it, they will soon be sorry they did. The result will be that they will leave your list just as quickly as they subscribed to it. Send updates once or twice a month and leave it at that.
Get The Balance Right
It can be very tempting to fill each of your ezines with information about your latest service or product, and, indeed, your readers will be expecting to hear a certain amount of that. But, do not forget also to include some free tips or an advice spot. Giving a measured amount of free information marks you as an expert in your field, and a generous one at that.
Send Useful Information
One of marketing’s basic rules is to know your target market well. Know their interests and things about which they like to be kept informed. If you come across information that you feel would be useful to your target audience, add it to your ezine (crediting the author or source, of course). The more useful the information you provide, the more likely your readers are to stay subscribed.
Do not forget to ask your readers for their comments, questions or future topics they would like to see covered. The whole point of writing an ezine or newsletter is to build a relationship with your prospects and invite further interaction. You want them to take the next step by picking up the telephone or sending you an email. Make it clear that not only is this an acceptable way of contacting you, but the best way.
Tell Your Readers What To Do
If you go to the effort of writing an ezine, do not forget to tell you readers what you want them to do next. You are writing in order to build a relationship. So, do you want them to go to your website to read the rest of the articles, or download something for free? Do you want them to purchase a product or service? If so, give them a reason to do it now rather than later, and provide a link to click, so they can buy it now. If you do not tell them what to do next, they will not do anything apart from read your ezine and delete it. Tell them what to do, and, provided that they are interested, they will do it.
Make Unsubscribing Easy
If someone wants to leave your mailing list, there is no point trying to hold on to them; they have already made the decision not to buy from you. To give one last professional impression of your business, you can at least make unsubscribing from your list easy and straightforward. It is ethical to include an unsubscribe link in all your ezines, and this should link to an automated system that will remove them quickly and painlessly. Wish them farewell and get on with providing quality content to those who do want to receive it.
About the author:
Justine Curtis is the director of My Virtual Assistant Limited which is currently expanding across the UK with a team of virtual assistant licensees and founder of the UK Association of Virtual Assistants (UKAVA) which offers free resources and information to its subscribers. Justine is the author of Setting Yourself Up As A Virtual Assistant and passes on the benefits of her vast experience of the VA role to aspiring and progressive virtual PAs as a co-founder of the VA Success Group. Justine is also a co-founder of Academy for Online Business, a company devoted to helping self-employed professionals and entrepreneurs to build their own online business empires.
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