Here's a quick post to share some insight around how you should communicate with your email list. I know that I've been beating the email drum pretty hard around here. I hope that you've gotten a sense of how important this is for your small business.

I also haven't been posting quite as regularly as I'd like to, because I've been on a guest-posting rampage all around the internet. This has allowed me to get the word out about PreSold & Hooked, my totally free, 4-day course on how to build and grow a profitable email list for your business. We had over 50 people sign up yesterday!

Anyhow, on with today's case study.

What's Wrong With This Picture?

Here you see a recent email communication I received from a local outdoor gear shop. Their name has been redacted to protect the innocent (I've always wanted to say that). Having not remembered ever signing up for their list, and being wholly underwhelmed by what they were offering, I opted out of the list.

Don't Let This Happen To You

Here's what you can learn from this shop's slip up:

  • If the most eye-catching thing in your message is the unsubscribe button, then you're going to witness a mass exodus, like the one I'm sure that bike shop saw.
  • If you don't contact your list regularly, you need to sell it back to them each time. Remind them of the benefits. The  shop attempted to do this towards the bottom of the letter, but it was too late- my mind was made up. Lead with the benefits.
  • If you are switching email list providers (like many businesses do when they realize how vital email is) any reputable provider is going to make your list “re-opt-in”. In english, this means that everyone on your list is going to have to reconfirm that they want to get your emails.You're better off starting with a paid email list provider from the beginning to avoid ever having to send a message like this.

Here's the email marked up with my comments:

This is a sensitive situation that requires you to highlight the benefits of being on your email list. Here are my tips:

  • Rather than framing this message as “we are changing email list providers, so here's your chance to unsubscribe”, this shop should have taken the opposite approach.  “We are changing email list providers so here are some great reasons why you should stay subscribed” is a much better message.
  • If possible, offer an incentive for re-confirming. Something that is available only to subscribers. The bike shop could have offered me a one-time 10% discount off of my purchase, or even something as simple as a free sticker.  I probably would have stayed.

Questions to Ponder

I don't want to take credit away from this bike shop for the communication that they are already engaging in.  The fact that they even have a mailing list puts them ahead of their local competitors. With a little bit of practice (read: regularly contacting the list), this shop will see increased customers and sales as a result of their efforts.

What are some examples of great (or terrible) email list messages you've seen? Share them so we can all learn!

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