So you have decided to start an email newsletter. Smart move. Email marketing is still one of the very best ways to keep in touch with contacts and stay front of mind. You have some helpful, relevant content to share and a database of people you’d love to reconnect with. You’re ready to go. Should you invite them to opt-in to receive your emails or send the first newsletter to everyone and hope that not too many opt out?
If you don’t have permission don’t send
I have a strong view on this. If you don’t have permission don’t send it – even if you’ve met the person and the content in your email is valuable. Why?
- Because not asking is disrespectful. According to Mashable, over 144 billion emails are sent everyday. Your contacts are no different from you – their inboxes are overloaded and a lot of what they get they didn’t want. Don’t make them unsubscribe. Have some respect and give them a choice.
- Because not asking pisses people off. I met a guy at a networking event recently. We swapped cards and the next day I was surprised to find he’d signed me up to his list and started sending me emails. I’d quite liked him but I was annoyed at his presumptuousness. I didn’t read the emails and immediately unsubscribed. I haven’t bothered to get back in touch. Not a great way to start a relationship. Do you want your contacts to feel like this?
- Because not asking is spam. If they didn’t ask for it it’s spam and you could get reported. Too many clicks on the ‘report abuse’ button and your ISP can block you. I’m not scaremongering. This happens to legitimate, over-eager marketers. You don’t have to be a spammer to be reported for spam.
- Because not asking devalues your content. When you’re walking through the centre of town and someone stuffs a leaflet in your hand, how often do you read it? You might, if they’re lucky, give it a cursory glance before dropping it into the nearest bin. Don’t make your newsletter feel throwaway.
At the end of the day, if you don’t ask it won’t work. You simply will not get the results you want from email marketing this way.
Don’t assume. Invite.
There is a better way to build your list. Craft a carefully worded email to your contacts. Invite them to opt to receive your email newsletter. Make this invitation personal, warm and relevant. Give a flavour of the value they’ll gain from your communication every month.
Yes, if you ask permission you’ll start with a smaller list than if you blasted your newsletter to everyone you know, but it will be a far warmer and more engaged list. You’ll be sending your valuable new newsletter to people who have chosen to listen, and that’s what you want.
Make your subscribers feel special. Let them know that if they’re on the list you’ll be sending them your best stuff. It feels good to be part of an exclusive club and they’ll reward you with loyalty.
Don’t be over-zealous at the start. I really understand the temptation to get your content out to as many people as possible but the best results come with patience. Know that if you promote your newsletter widely and keep providing value your email list will grow. Always ask for permission, have respect, make it as useful and interesting as you can and the chances are they’ll remember you when the time comes to buy.
As ever, I’d really welcome your thoughts. I know it’s a tricky dilemma.
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