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Best practices: mailing lists

Posted on June 6th, 2012 by

Photo by Jim Epler via Flickr

There are many benefits of creating a mailing list for your business. For one, it’s a powerful tool that helps drive consistent and loyal customers to your website or blog. Plus, with a number of quality email marketing providers offering cheap or free services, it’s easier than ever before to create attractive, custom newsletters. Still, there are best practices as to how to go about creating a newsletter.

Sign up with a reputable email marketing provider

The choices are many here, but choosing any of the most popular providers will get you fast on the right track. We’re currently enjoying MailChimp quite a bit here at SMC — especially since its basic services are free to an extent and it offers many useful instructional videos. Other providers like YMLPAWeber and Constant Contact get the job done just about as well, too.

With any of the providers, you’ll likely end up with a small monthly fee eventually, but you’ll be glad to pay when you realize what you’re getting. Each of the the above providers makes it easy to import and manage your database of emails. You can also compose an attractive newsletter complete with graphics and hyperlinks with relative ease. When all is said and done, you can schedule when you’d like your newsletter sent out to your mailing list subscribers and even check out analytics such as open-rate (the number of people who actually open the email).

Make sure people can subscribe/unsubscribe easily

It only makes sense that you add a form to your company’s website where people can subscribe to your mailing list. Most blogging platforms offer this and many email marketing providers offer a free html code that can be placed on your website. This is key because anyone who actively subscribes to your newsletter is already a loyal customer.

Likewise, making it easy for someone to unsubscribe to your newsletter is only fair. All of the email marketing providers mentioned above have solutions for this, making it a hands-off experience for you, which will only save you the numerous headaches that go along with trying to delete/update/reorganize your contacts.

An introduction to MailChimp:

Incorporate social media and other necessary links

At SMC, we believe in social gravity. This means your website compliments your blog which compliments your Facebook which compliments your Twitter which compliments your LinkedIn — etc. — and vice versa. When each wave of your online presence is in synch, well, you start to create a mighty tide. Naturally, your newsletter is part of this. At the very least, include links to your various social channels as well as your website in each newsletter you send out.

Content and consistency are key — and don’t spam!

No matter what, make your newsletter worth reading. Linking to recent blog posts is a start. Adding the latest company news can be good as well. Offering exclusive content, like discounts or prizes, is a tried-and-true way to make sure people will at least glance through your newsletter (you’ll likely gain new subscribers this way, too). However, if you don’t have anything worth sharing, don’t send out a newsletter of non sequitur — you’ll risk testing your subscribing customers’ loyalty if they start receiving what they consider to be spam.

Depending on the nature of your business, the rate you send your newsletter out will vary, but making sure each newsletter is sent out routinely (like every Monday or the first Monday of the month) will help your subscribers anticipate what you have to say next.

Takeaway

When done right, mailing lists/newsletters are a powerful tool that, when synched with the rest of your online footprint, help boost your company’s online presence and no doubt sales.

By Will Silvey Simons • @silveywill

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Resources

21 Quick Actions You Can Do Today to Set Your Blog Up for Massive Success (ThinkTraffic.net)

How to Build Your Email Marketing List with a WordPress Website (CopyBlogger)

6 Smart & Effective Email Marketing Tactics (Mashable)

Why Email Newsletters Don’t Reach Customers (Contently)

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