That’s because your audience — clients, prospects, collaborators, suppliers — are very difficult to replace.
These days, your list is the collection of email addresses you obtained with permission. How are you protecting and growing this asset in the age of social networks?
PASSIVEI've been using social networks to stay in contact with my network. This is easy but ineffective because your target recipients may never get your message. They already receive too many updates from their connections. How can they pay attention to you too?
Let's use Twitter as an example. One time-effective technique is to set a duration (e.g., 15 minutes) to read and participate. You ignore what happens outside this window. That means you could be ignoring most of the activity if you follow more than a few people.
On LinkedIn, I used to check all the updates from my connections since the last time I checked updates. That works when your network is small and relatively inactive. Mine keeps growing. Starting in January 2013, I stopped exploring all updates. I’ll explore for a few minutes but rely on emails from LinkedIn to tell me what's happening.
What do you do? Chances are good that you limit your time on social networks too.
You may post a message that many could see but which few do. I figured that posting an announcement or two about my trust workshops would be enough to fill the room. Not quite. Even after three events, I’m finding people who didn't know about them. Or who’ve forgotten.
The solution is a more active approach.
ACTIVEEmail remains the most effective way to get your message to specified people. Yes, boring old email still has a role. You might not get an immediate response. Your message might get sent to a spam folder, but you've still got a reliable way to reach most of the people you intend.
How humbling. Since email is difficult to personalize and track, using an electronic newsletter is an ideal solution. I sent out Marketing Reflections for 42 months. I stopped last December ago because I thought using social networks would work instead. Wrong. There is still a need for email.
I had been using Benchmark Email, which worked fine. Now there are free options like MailChimp (free for 2,000 subscribers) and Mad Mimi (free for 2,500 subscribers). They both allow you an easy way to experiment. Benchmark Email also has a free for life plan but only for people who subscribe through a signup form. Importing a mailing list is much easier.
Protecting Your ListThese days, your list is 100% opt in. You can no longer email messages without permission. Your audience can opt out anytime — and report you for spamming them anytime. Adding value and acting properly are both essential.
The PlanMy plan is to
- put connections into a social CRM system (underway)
- restart a newsletter (details here)
- start autoresponder campaigns (e.g., to help workshop graduates reach their goals)
- find ways to build the mailing list
- find ways to connect the mailing list to the CRM system (easiest with MailChimp)
- Subscribe to the Transparence for TRUST AND YOU newsletter (new)
- Use Mad Mimi for your email newsletters (new)
- How to protect your business’s most important asset (Copyblogger, Jul 2012)
- Why you need a newsletter (4 part series)
- Picking a CRM solution
- Three steps to get your emails answered
- How to get your audience’s contact information
- image courtesy of Jane M Sawyer