Part of running a business includes marketing. Many small businesses have a limited budget for fancy marketing strategies. It’s tough and expensive to create and produce slick materials and advertise to your target audience. Don’t get me started at the idea of cold calling.
With the rapid growth of the Internet, email and social media have transformed the way we access potential and existing clients and fans. Now companies have engaging websites and blogs to learn about the company, Facebook and Twitter accounts to follow updates, and email marketing you can sign up for to receive newsletters in your inbox.
We’ve been thinking a lot about email marketing newsletters and have mixed feelings.
Let me share some of my reservations.
- Email volume is already high, do I really want to create more.
- Lots of email marketing we all receive is of low value.
- Most send too many emails and the ones that send them sporadically feel unprofessional.
- Companies add us to lists without our permission.
- It can be difficult to unsubscribe.
Now let me share some of the reasons to consider it.
- It is a low cost method for sharing updates and news about the practice with you.
- We have a large and diverse database of contacts we would like to stay in contact with.
- Email marketing pushes information to subscribers versus hoping you will continually visit and monitor our website.
- Recipients can forward the email to friends if they like.
- It’s another avenue, in addition to the blog, Facebook page, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to tell people about the work we are doing.
So, now you know how we think about email marketing. How can we test an approach that avoids the known issues we all dislike and benefits from the positive reasons? Here’s the approach we are testing in September.
- We chose an email marketing provider who is a leader in the industry and the strictest at protecting you from spammers – MailChimp. MailChimp does not allow you to import contacts without their permission and it tracks bounce rates and unsubscribes. Too many and it suspends us. It is also super easy to unsubscribe and it allows you to report us if you think we are misusing the service. Finally, it has strict procedures that are the best in the market.
- We are cleaning up our contact list and taking the time to categorize every contact. This will allows us not to email people more than once and we can target content to groups. That way folks in New Jersey don’t receive information about an event in Austin, Texas or healthcare contacts don’t receive ambulance news.
- We are not going to upload our list and then ask you to opt-out. While we know we may not have as many initial subscribers, we are going to invite all of our contacts to opt-in so we know you want to receive the emails.
- We will send a personal email (and probably one reminder) to each contact explaining the aim of the email newsletter, the frequency of the emails, an invitation to give it a try, and instructions to opt-in.
- A signup form will be on our website.
- The norm will be one email a month. More than that will be a special event.
- We will work hard to make the email content something worth reading.
- We’ll never bother anyone that unsubscribes.
This may seem like overkill to some, but for us it’s important that we respect our customers and contacts. We also want to apply the same values we would hope others would to us. It’s also a test. We don’t know if email marketing makes sense for DMWAustin or if it’s useful to you. We plan to test it this Fall and see what we learn. If no one signs up or we get feedback it’s not of value, we’ll suspend it.
Are we approaching this right? What are we missing? Any suggestions? Don’t want to wait, you can sign up here today.
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PDSA Time ??? – Failed to time
As I type this, it’s actually Sunday and not a business day. I’m still on the road and teaching in the early morning. So, my PDSA is to generate the content in advance and schedule it for tomorrow. It took longer than expected, but it’s done.