How To Email Your List
Occasionally, I try to get off my elitist, conceptual high horse, swanning around talking about marketing theory all day (whilst wearing nothing but a boa, naturally) and talk tactics. Today is one of those times. You may as well pay attention. I’m not scheduled to be tactical again until 2013.
In this series, we’ve been addressing some of the more common roadblocks that stop potentially fabulous ittybiz owners from being, well, fabulous. Today we’re talking about a big one.
How to communicate with the people with the money in a way that does not turn you into:
a.) an irritating pest,
b.) a marketing skeezy pants, or
c.) someone they hear from so infrequently, they don’t remember your name.
I think we can both agree that those are bad things you do not want.
But! Problems! Danger!
If you avoid C, you might end up being A or B. Everyone will hate you and mark you as spam.
If you avoid A and B, you’ll probably end up being C. Everyone will forget you and mark you as spam.
Hello, rock. And hard place! What a surprise! We really must stop meeting in such close quarters like this. People will talk.
OK. Let’s get on to the good stuff.
How often can I email my list?
You may email your list as often as you have something valuable to communicate to at least 20% of them.
So if you have 500 people on your list, and it’s not unreasonable to assume that 100 of those people will gain some potential value from hearing what you have to say today, feel free to email them. Even if you emailed them yesterday.
Now, if your potential financial payoff is particularly high and you can limit the irritating or skeezy quotient, you can email when you have something to say that would be potentially valuable to 5% of your list.
For example, if you are opening up private coaching and there’s a good chance you’ll make $10,000, annoy whoever you need to annoy. You’ve got ten grand worth of skin in the game.
But won’t they unsubscribe/unfollow/de-friend/shoot me?
Definitely. It’s part of the game. You really need to try and get over that. It’s hard as hell, I know, and you’ll never fully succeed. But you have to try.
Try to remember that people sign up for mailing lists or blog feeds or social media updates for some VERY bizarre reasons.
I received a nastygram from someone once who told me they were annoyed I kept selling things. They were only subscribed because they thought I might actually show screenshots of a topless Skype call.
I have heard from someone who was upset that I kept telling personal stories since they’d only subscribed so they could put me in their swipe file of subject lines to steal.
I have been told on more than one occasion that the only reason they signed up was because they were drunk and bored.
Weird, anomalous subscribers become weird, anomalous unsubscribers. IT’S FINE.
Your list is NOT a list of hot leads. Your list is a motley crew of random internet strangers, some of whom are hot leads. If non-hot leads unsubscribe, you MUST STOP CARING.
No, but seriously! Every time I mail, I get unsubscribes! Every time!
Yes. So do I. And it’s hard to click “send” when you know it’s going to make certain people click “spam”. I know that.
But let’s look at some math.
If you email 200 people and 4 of them unsubscribe, you lose 4 people.
If you DON’T email 200 people, you lose 200 people.
And the 196 people who LIKE hearing from you get totally screwed out of the kind of stuff they signed up for because you’re freaking out about the four.
That’s really dumb and you have to stop doing it.
OK, but how do I know what’s “potentially valuable”?
Well, think of the things you’re a relatively active fan of. What do YOU find valuable?
I’m subscribed to six blogs. One I read religiously. I click refresh to see if it’s come in yet. The second, I read maybe half the articles. The rest I read about one in five of their posts, generally based on the compellingness of the title, but sometimes if I’m trying to avoid work I’ll read all of them at one time, plus back posts.
(This means include links to your other, or recent content. I’m bored! Give me something fun to do!)
I probably open 3 out of 5 emails from Sunwing Vacations. They have sort of a “deals of the week” newsletter that they send out, and I read it more often than I don’t. (It should be noted that the last time Jamie and I took a vacation through Sunwing was when we went to Cuba two years ago. We’re still reading.)
Norwegian Cruise Lines sends me probably four emails a week and I at least glance at about half of them, even though their “sales” are hardly sales at all. (Norwegian: I adore you. More than you could possibly know. But onboard credit is not a sale, it’s a bonus. I like both, but one is not the other. A dog is not a cat, and you can’t say it’s a cat just because cats get a higher open rate. It’s cheating.)
I’ve emailed three times this week to say “No. Seriously. Pay What You Can means pay what you can. Send $7.24 if that’s what you can afford. That’s why I’m DOING this, for God’s sake.” I will keep sending that email until I am thoroughly convinced that everybody who needs to hear that has heard it. I don’t care how many unsubscribes I get. As long as I keep getting, “OMG, thank you thank you thank you” emails right after I mail, I’m going to keep mailing. End of story.
Given that the average launch gets 50-60% of its sales on the last day, and 50-60% of THAT in the last hour, I mail twice on the last day. So should you. You think everybody’s heard about it, and you may, theoretically, be right. (You’re not actually right, but you could be in theoretical alternate universe land.)
Just because they’ve heard about it doesn’t mean they haven’t forgotten about it. You know, maybe I’ll say that again in bold. Just because they’ve heard about it doesn’t mean they haven’t forgotten about it. People are busy. They don’t spend their entire day thinking about you and your fantastic offerings. You MUST tell them again. And again. And again.
OK, I get that I have to mail. But what should I say?
Start with the simplest possible version of the truth you can think of. Get fancier as you get better at it.
If you don’t know what to put in your subject line that’s introducing your new line of jewelry, start with “We’re introducing a new line of jewelry”.
As you get better, start throwing “limited edition” or “get it while it’s hot” or “sale ends Tuesday” in there.
For most people, that’s really all you need to do if the communication is primarily commercial.
If the communication is pure content, or more content than commerce, lead with the title. If your ittybiz is at the point where you already have serious fans, put the title in sentence case. It makes you look friendlier. (This means capitalize the first letter, but not the first letter of every word.)
If you don’t have serious fans yet and you’re still proving yourself, leave it in title case. It makes you look smarter. (This means capitalize the first letter of every word, or the major words.)
Don’t put “newsletter” in your subject line. It’s a waste of ten characters, eleven if you include a colon, or twelve if you include square brackets. That’s just wasteful. This also applies to your name or your business name, unless it’s contextually relevant and necessary. They know who’s sending the email. That’s what the Sender field is there for. (Example: “IttyBiz is having a sale!” is fine. “IttyBiz: How To Sell To Damn Near Anybody” is not.)
Whatever. I’m still freaked out and confused.
OK, if you take nothing else from this article, take this:
The purpose of your list is to give people who like you the opportunity to hear what you say and buy what you sell.
Therefore, you must say it. And sell it.
It’s like reruns. People will watch their favorite TV show every day of the week, no matter how many times they’ve seen the episode. And if they don’t watch it, they still want to know it’s on. They might want to watch it, and if it went away, they’d be sad.
Your job is to become their favorite TV show.
You’re not going to do that by airing an episode once every five months.
The truth is, if you email your list frequently, whether it’s once a week, twice a week, or hell, even five times a week, EVERYONE will unsubscribe except for the people who love what you say and what you sell.
But here’s the secret…
They’ll bring their friends.
My point here is not that you should overwhelm your list with emails, especially if you don’t have anything valuable to say. My point is that you should write to the people who love what you say and what you sell, and give them as much good stuff to love as you can.
That is the only sustainable way.
And… one more time with feeling!
We talk a LOT more about these tactics and how to implement them in the Emergency Turnaround Clinic. Did you hear? It’s pay what you can. [oh my god, she's winking again]
Seriously. Check it out. Good things happen when you click this link.