First, let it be known that there is a proper way to add people to your e-newsletter.
Invite, Don’t Subscribe!
Do not ever subscribe someone without their permission. This is the number-one way to lose subscribers, even customers. It’s tacky, it’s unprofessional, and it’s against spam laws. Which is better, a list full of people who unsubscribe angrily, or a list full of people who are excited to hear what you have to say?
How do you invite instead of subscribing? Set up your mailing list software so that people must reply to a confirmation email in order to be added to the list. Subscribing is therefore in their hands; if they reply they are subscribed, if they don’t they’re not. Believe me, you will get far more subscribers this way than if you automatically add everybody in sight.
Here are some other email marketing pitfalls to avoid:
Not using mailing list software
If you are maintaining your email list with an Excel file or an Outlook address book, stop right now. There are far better methods that will take away the onus of manually managing subscribes and unsubscribes. Constant Contact is one of the most common ways to do this.
Pestering people to join
I ask folks all the time if they want to subscribe to my email list – but I also take no for an answer. If someone chooses not to subscribe I encourage them in more subtle ways, perhaps by forwarding a link to a post I think might interest them.
If your e-newsletter is nothing but “buy buy buy” no one will want to read it. Be a valuable source of information and keep the selling to a minimum. By providing timely information on a particular topic, people will know what you do and seek you out when they need your help.
Drowning them with your wit
Yes, I realize your last newsletter made an incredibly clever quip about Elvis, but don’t send it out twelve million times. Set expectations with your readers as to how often you’ll post and what kind of content they’ll receive. You can repeat content occasionally, but don’t drown them in it.
Hiding the unsubscribe option
This is also against spam laws. Give people a convenient way to opt out. Losing subscribers is inevitable, and you have to accomodate that. Of course you want your subscribe buttons to take top billing!
Throwing your business card at someone in passing, without saying a word
Happened to me at a networking mixer. Seriously.
Is there a future in e-newsletters, given the rise of social media? I think there is, for the time being. People receive information from many sources, so you should spread your content as far as you can. Facebook, Twitter, and your e-newsletter can all work together to bring you traffic from a variety of sources.
Naturally, after an article like this I simply must ask if you’re interested in subscribing to Tech Tips by email. Plus, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @trionaguidry for breaking computer news and other geeky stuff.
How do you encourage email list subscribers? Share in the comments!