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Hi, this is Chris Leake with Local Leverage, and in this edition of Internet Marketing Insights I'm going to give some email marketing tips for local businesses.
I talk to local business owners fairly frequently about email marketing, and I find that a lot of you are really skeptical about it. And I want to offer kind of a different perspective in this video.
I think email marketing has gotten a bad reputation because of spammers, but properly done, email marketing can be extremely effective. In fact it's one of the best marketing mediums going out there today, believe it or not.
It'll never top face-to-face personal contact or something more personal like a phone call, but as far as mass communication channels, email marketing is one of the best things going out there.
Now when we talk about email marketing, were not talking about spam. Spam is unsolicited messages that nobody wants, but when you have people who are familiar with your business and who have agreed to let you contact them and want to hear from you, that’s a whole different ballgame.
Email marketing, in my mind, trumps social media, things like Facebook and Twitter right now, because the fact of the matter is, a lot more people are going to see your messages and take them into account in an email than they are on social media. It really trumps most other mass communication channels these days.
So let's talk about some tips for how you can use email marketing effectively for your business:
The first tip, obviously, is that you have to have people on your list. So ask people to join at whatever opportunity you can.
Obviously one of the best ways, if you have the kind of business where people come into a store or come in to an office, or even if you go out and serve clients with your business, every time you have contact with a customer or client, ask them to sign up for your email list.
Also on your website, on your Facebook profile, anywhere you can online, put email sign-up forms everywhere in prominent places asking people to join your list.
So the first thing, obviously, is that you have to have people on your list who are interested in your business or who have done business with you before.
The second tip is when you send messages to people, use plain text, not HTML. HTML emails, any time you create an email, for example from a template that has nice graphics or something like that, that's an HTML email.
And you know, they have a nice look to them, you can get some nice templates that seem fancy, and a lot of people want to go that way because they think of it in terms of helping with their branding and stuff, but here's the difference between plain text and HTML email. Let me show it to you this way:
Here is a plain text email I recently got from a guy whose list I'm on, and he gives sales tips to people. I read his messages because he provides great information in them, and he's kind of earned my trust.
So when this email showed up in my inbox a couple of days ago, I read it. Things I like about it are that it has a personal feel, it's addressed to me, it doesn't seem “spammy”, he communicates in a way that this comes across as one friend talking to another friend, and so it feels like a friend not like it's from some corporation or something like that.
Compare that to this one that I got: I dug this message out of my trash folder, because I deleted it immediately when I got it. This is another list that I'm on, and you can see, this is an HTML email, it does have nice graphics and stuff, but it feels like it's from a company – there’s nothing personal at all about this message.
It's a very long message, it has several different articles to it, none of it I care about because I am not interested in a newsletter, and that's how this thing is titled, “Our New Year's Newsletter”.
I don't care about a business's newsletter, and most of you don't either, and that's why you delete things that come to your inboxes that say newsletter, just like I do. When I get a message like this, I feel like I'm one of 100,000 people receiving this message. I don't feel like it has anything valuable or useful to me whatsoever.
By comparison, I'm on the list of another guy who gives internet marketing tips, and I happen to know that I'm one of about 100,000 subscribers to his list, but every message he sends out is in plain text and has a very personal feel to it. So even when you have a very big list, you can make it feel very personal, and one of the best ways is by using plain text.
Another big reason is that far more plain text emails will end up in your subscribers’ inboxes than HTML. HTML is much more likely to get blocked by spam filters.
Okay, tip number three is to use auto responders. Auto responders are when you use an email service that automatically takes care of handling your subscribers and your lists and handling unsubscribes for you – and by the way you need to use an email service like that because of anti-spam laws, by law you have to give people a way to unsubscribe in every message that you send.
Set up auto responders. Auto responders are automatic messages that go out to people at certain intervals as soon as they sign up for your list.
And the reason for this is, let's say someone signs up for your list, and they happen to hit at a busy time when you've got other stuff going on and you don't get a message out for a couple of weeks. Instead of them signing up for your list and then not hearing from you for a while and possibly kind of forgetting about you before they ever receive their first message from you, have a series of your best content that automatically goes out to them as soon as they subscribe. It's a great way to build trust and build rapport with people as soon as they get on your list without you having to do anything hands-on right at that time to make it happen.
So there are a number of different email services you can use. Constant Contact is probably one of the most well-known ones out there. They're putting a ton of money into advertising right now, so you see their name everywhere. They're okay, but they are not the company I would most recommend.
I'll give you some others I would recommend higher than Constant Contact:
AWeber is a great one. They are pretty much the standard used by all internet marketers, and that's because of a lot of the features they have that let you really track things well and segment your lists very well and do split testing to find out which kind of headlines get the most people to open your emails.
They're not the only ones who do split testing, but they do it very well. So AWeber is a great one.
Instant Customer is what I use for a lot of our campaigns and for a lot of our clients. This is a very good system as well that incorporates a lot of other features like text messaging and across different communication channels letting you communicate with people.
Right now, at the time I'm recording this video, they are not accepting new customers; however, if you are a client of Local Leverage, then you will be able to use the Instant Customer system, because we have access to it.
Another good one is Mail Chimp. Mail Chimp is a free option that attracts a lot of people.
The problem with their free option is it does not have the features that you are most going to want to have. First of all, it's going to put in Mail Chimp logo in every message that you send, which is going to take away from your branding and the personal feel.
And secondly, they do not allow you to use auto responders with their free account. But they do have paid monthly subscriptions, and those are a pretty good option too, so Mail Chimp is another decent option. Read through their terms of service though to make sure that your business does not fall into one of the categories that they do not let people use their service for.
Finally, the fourth tip is provide valuable content. Like I said already, people do not want to read newsletters and hear a bunch of boring stuff about your business. They want content that is helpful and useful to them.
If you want to engage with people, if you want to earn their business through email marketing, then provide things that really help them out, that solve problems that they have, that give true value to them.
When you do that, don't make a big sales pitch for yourself all the time. Provide valuable things, without asking anything in return, and you will earn their trust, you'll stay in front of people, and you'll be able to effectively leverage email to market your business very well.
So those are four tips, and until next time, make sure that you’re signed up on our list so that you can get all of our free content on internet marketing for local businesses as soon as it comes out. To sign up, you can visit local-leverage.com/free.
Make sure you're on our email list, and then you'll always hear as soon as we put out new free content on internet marketing for local businesses. We'll see you next time.
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