In my last post, I discussed why you should seriously think about relationship management through email marketing:
“Email marketing, as a rule, sends to lists of people/customers/clients that you know, have done business with, or that have requested to be on your list. These are exactly the people with whom you want to nurture a business relationship.”
The lists of email addresses to whom you send your email campaigns are referred to as “permission-based lists.” This distinction is important for two reasons:
- Just like you don’t like “cold calls” from telephone solicitors during dinner, people don’t like unsolicited email showing up in their already busy email inboxes.
- There is actually a U.S. law forbidding the use of third-party, purchased, or non-permission-based lists. It’s the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, updated in 2008. (This law covers a broader scope of spam definition including content, identification of the sender, false representation, etc.)
Reputable email services such as Constant Contact® make it easy to comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, but it is your responsibility to control the suitability of the lists to which you send email. Constant Contact specifically states:
“An opt-in email address (a.k.a. ‘single opt-in’) is one in which the holder of a specific address has had a previous relationship with you or your business, and has given their consent to receive future email communications from you. This could be through web based or in-store sign-up forms, previous product or service purchases, memberships, business or other personal relationships.
“Addresses that are not allowed are:
- Any purchased, rented, or appended list of email addresses from ANY source no matter what that source claims.
- Any non-specific or role email addresses (Examples of these are: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Any distribution lists or mailing lists, i.e. email addresses that mail to more than one email address.”
If you’re just starting to employ email marketing as part of your overall marketing strategy, use what legitimate email addresses you have. These may not amount to scores of addresses yet, so as soon as possible, implement as many address collection methods as you can. Here are a few ideas:
- Have a sign-up link on your website, social media sites, and in any email you send out.
- If you have a brick-and-mortar store, have a sign-up form and/or ask your customer, client, or visitor if you can add them to your mailing list.
- Have a fishbowl on the counter to collect business cards.
- Request customer email addresses during the online ordering and check-out process of your shopping cart.
- If you attend trade shows, have a sign-up form at your booth.
- As you network and collect names and business cards, ask if you can add your new contact to your mailing list.
- Add a space for email address on any comment cards or surveys.
- Add a field for email address to any memberships, pledges, or donations.
(Click here for more ideas on building your contact list.)
Create a purpose (interesting news, tips, how-to’s, announcements, “preferred customer” initiatives, coupons, special deals, insights, follow-ups, seasonal information, ideas, recommendations, testimonials, product reviews or comparisons) and a schedule for your emails (1-3 times per week, twice a month, quarterly, etc.).
And, remember: you’re nurturing a relationship. Treat your contacts like they are important to you because THEY ARE.
Can you think of additional ways to collect email addresses? What other information would you send out in your email campaigns? Leave your thoughts or comments below.
Next time: What Are You Doing for Christmas?