A person would have to be a technology Luddite to not know we are in the midst of the holiday gift-giving season. Buy this-give that commercials surround holiday-themed television programs and my email inbox is as stuffed as a Thanksgiving turkey with discounts, freebies and countless email offers.

Why are so many marketers sending so many emails?

(Drum roll please…) Because it works!

E-mail is a far more effective way to acquire customers than social media…nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined (McKinsey & Company Exhibit). That’s because 91 percent of all US consumers still use e-mail daily, and the rate at which e-mails prompt purchases is not only estimated to be at least three times that of social media, but the average order value is also 17 percent higher, according to the McKinsey Report.

email-Fotolia_51200802_XSNow that marketers have permission to email, what are the best practices for maintaining email relationships?

Here are 10 tips for maintaining email relationships:

  1. Add a permission reminder to your emails. Remind recipients why they are receiving an email from you. Whether they are a valued customers, a prospect who expressed intent, or a client you want to keep in touch with, adding a reminder will add credibility and provide context for your email.
  2. Be straightforward at the point of sign up. When asking people to join your mailing list, be straightforward about what type of content you plan to send. Special offers, promotions, and exclusive content are a great incentive for people to join your list but if you don’t follow through, you could lose them as a reader and possibly a customer.
  3. Give people the option to opt-out. Permission can be taken away as easily as it is given. It is very important that every email you send has the option for the recipient to unsubscribe or “opt out”. Interests may change over time and communications may no longer be valuable to a particular subscriber. Those subscribers are entitled to withdraw their permission at will. Also remember this is a requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. Fines are hefty.
  4. Respect your audience’s privacy. Trust plays a big part whether or not someone decides to join your list. Your privacy policy should be clearly posted. It adds credibility to your company and your email even if recipients do not click on the link.
  5. Listen to your readers. Are your email communications of value? A survey is an inexpensive, easy and immediate way to find out how your customers really feel about your company and your email communications.
  6. Keep your contact list up-to-date. People change internet service providers, jobs and email addresses at random. You will likely be the last to know. Ask for updated information and give subscribers an easy way to change their email address. This will ensure that your communications continue to be received if, and when, they make a change.
  7. Don’t overwhelm your audience. Respect the privilege of communicating with your customers and prospects by taking care not to communicate too often. Carefully plan how many and what kind of communications you send to your subscribers.
  8. Be diligent. Some subscribers will reply to an email to unsubscribe instead of using the automatic unsubscribe link. Monitor your inbox for unsubscribes and complaints, then make sure you remove unsubscribe addresses right away and take action on any grievances. Under CAN-SPAM you only have 10 days to comply with unsubscribes.
  9. Watch your reports. Look at your reports! There’s a wealth of information just waiting to be discovered. Always pay attention to your unsubscribe rate. If you are losing more than .5% of your subscribers per month, you need to make adjustments. Opens and click-throughs can also indicate where you might be missing the mark.
  10. Never buy or rent a list. Beware of strangers bearing lists! Permission is not transferrable. Today, subscribers want to receive email from those companies they have subscribed to, not an unknown third party. Don’t be followed by the false promise of ready-to-buy lists. Be one of the good guys?ask permission!

These tips are provided by Constant Contact, an email marketing service that is an easy and affordable do-it-yourself solution. If you would like to get started with email marketing on your own, you can try it here for 60 days absolutely free.

If you aren’t using email marketing yet or you’ve outgrown your start-up solution, ask us about our resources. We can help you integrate all of your inbound marketing tactics like blogging, email and social media into a single solution. Having an inbound marketing strategy instead of employing individual tactics like blogging, email or Facebook will help you learn more about what your customers and prospects really want from you.

Now, that’s a gift that will keep on giving throughout the New Year!

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