How to use your mailing list
In the previous post we looked at why your website needs a mailing list. In this post we will look at how you can get the most out of your mailing list.
The most important thing to remember is that someone on your mailing list already knows what you sell and didn't sign up to your list to have your offerings pushed at them. If all you do is push sales in your emails, your email open-rate and your list size will shrink as the subscribers start ignoring your emails, or worse, they unsubscribe.
Give your list what they want. That means more information, tips, advice and anything they can use to make a more informed decision on what you offer.
So let's take a closer look at how you can set up your mailing list in a win-win scenario that benefits both you and your potential customers.
WHAT TO EMAIL
What to email is the most important aspect of a successful mailing list. When setting up mailing lists, we often have to explain to our clients that constantly pushing sales to your mailing list is counter-productive. When deciding whether or not to send a promotional email, a rule of thumb is to follow the 80/20 rule. That is 80% information and 20% promotion (e.g. exclusive offers or discounts). That could mean that each email contains 80% information and 20% promotion, or 80% of your emails are informational, with only 20% being purely promotional.
As we mentioned previously, those who have signed up to your mailing list do not wish to be sold your products/services. They already know what you offer because they have been to your website. These are potential customers who are deciding two things:
1) whether or not they want/need what you offer, and
2) which company offers this in a way that best suits their situation.
Your emails should address both of these.
You need to prove to your readers that you know a great deal about your area of expertise and you're willing to use that knowledge to help them make an informed decision. A great way to show you mean business is to take a certain benefit (not a feature) of your products/services and expand on these. Give your readers detailed information that will help them make the two decisions mentioned above. The emails could be blog posts you have written (such as the one you're reading right now) or they can be their own separate sequence of information.
HOW OFTEN TO EMAIL
This is a call you will need to make. The frequency of your emails will depend on many factors including your industry, the length of the buying cycle for your products/services and a range of other factors. A rule of thumb is to email your list once per week but there are cases where more or less frequent emails may be more appropriate.
If you are selling something with a long buying cycle (i.e. the decision to purchase takes a long time), such as a house or luxury car, you will want to keep in mind that your readers will often take longer to make their decision and may become disinterested in your emails if they are too frequent. The awareness and consideration stages of the buying cycle might take several months. In this case you might want to email your list every two weeks.
On the other hand, if you sell a product or service with a very short buying cycle (less than a week), such as jewellery or Pilates classes, you may want to email your list more frequently. You are the expert in your industry and you know how long the buying cycle is for what you offer. Use this knowledge of your customers' purchasing habits to determine how often to email your mailing list and keep an eye on your unsubscribe and open rates. If you are noticing a trend of un-subscribing and/or lower open rates, this could be because your frequency is too high or too low. However, there are a number of reasons why someone may choose to unsubscribe or ignore your emails. It may also be because your content is not benefiting them, so don't immediately adjust your frequency of emails without looking further into possible causes.
WHERE TO PUT YOUR EMAIL SIGNUP FORM
The email signup form should be available on all pages of your website. We recommend putting it in the footer, right above your business details. This means the website visitor has already seen all the content on your home page (or any other page). If your website is designed to get your message across quickly and clearly, the visitor who has reached the bottom of the page already has a good idea about who you are and what you offer. This is an ideal time to collect an email address from an interested website visitor who is not yet ready to purchase.
You can also put your email signup form in a side bar. Ensure that wherever you decide to put the form, it is easy to access but does not distract the visitor from the main desired action of your website.
It should be noted that you may need to offer something in exchange for a website visitor giving you their email address, or tell them in advance what type of information you will be sending them. A website visitor will no doubt be suspicious that you will use emails to sell to them. Without offering something of value upfront they may not wish to sign up to your mailing list. What to offer upfront is another whole topic that we will cover in a future post.
Let's use a real estate agency as an example of how to use a mailing list.
WHAT TO SEND:
There are many different topics the real estate agency can send their mailing list, all of which allow the reader to gain leverage from the knowledge of the agency and make their own decisions based on the new knowledge they have acquired. For example, the agency could send emails such as a case study of a recent house that sold for more than the asking price, an analysis of the local apartment market, tips for buying vacant land, whether an auction is the right choice for you, etc.
HOW OFTEN TO SEND:
Given the longer buying cycle for real estate, the agency may wish to email their list with tips and advice every two weeks. In two months, the reader will have read 4 or 5 emails from the agency and feel more confident in their own ability to make an informed decision. The goal for the agency is to have gained the trust of the reader and be the first agency the reader thinks of when they are ready to take the next step.
Note: this is separate and distinct from a "latest listings" notification email you might have seen from real estate agencies. These usually cater to people who have already made the choice to purchase and not those who may be 6-12 months away from purchasing a property.
Now that we've covered the basics of a mailing list, it's time for you to put this into action! Start with one list and take it from there. When you begin to see positive results from your mailing list you can expand to several lists that cater to readers who are at different stages of the buying cycle, or have requirements that differ to other potential customers. Going back to our real estate agency example, they may wish to have one list for buyers and another one for sellers. They may even wish to have another list for investors, one for apartment owners etc. The more specific you can get your lists, the better chance you have of delivering the exact information those readers are looking for to make an informed decision.
And who is the informed reader going to look to first when the decision to purchase has been made? You, of course!
TIP: You can use tools like Mailchimp to manage your list/s and create automated email sequences that reduce administration time.
Good luck! And if you're still unsure about how to utilise a mailing list to grow your business, you can contact us here. We're here to help!
Stay tuned for the next post on 8 Ways to Grow Your Mailing List.