Hi there email marketing! Welcome back

HTWB email marketing Aug-14Do the words, “owned content” resonate with you yet? If not, they should.

As I suggested in this article recently, posting your blogs and articles directly on to social media is at best risky – and at worst utterly brainless. What these new vibrations DO permit, however, is for us to take a long, hard look at our earlier means of bizcomms and why they are so valuable to us right now.

Email marketing, considered passé just a few years ago, suddenly has jumped back into prominence. But first: the background…

Social media? Yeah, yeah

With the social media platforms continuing to move their goal posts sideways, up, down, up their colorectal orifices and even out of the arena altogether, we SME business types have no idea what those platforms will come up with next. And of course we have absolutely no control whatsoever over their decisions, foibles and sneakily clever monetizing schemes that can be (and often are) introduced overnight without anyone telling us.

Take the SWAM initiative that I described in this article. It basically allows LinkedIn to control what you post in their groups, when, and only relenting when they feel like letting you off the hook.

Then there is the undoubtedly well worked out algorithm that Facebook uses to figure out how to share the posts you include on your FB business page without paying for more. Check out my Facebook business page to see how many people they allow to see my posts … until I agree to pay. Impressed? And there are many more.

Enter – or rather Re-Enter – the email marketing hero

Whoever says that email marketing is passé needs a reality refresher, although I do doff my cap at Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg who, back in June 2010, said …

“Email – I can’t imagine life without it – is probably going away.”

Given that at this point the SocMed platforms hadn’t yet figured out how to screw megabucks out of online posters, I can well see why our Sheryl felt this way at the time. I would be very interested to know how she feels about it now, though. And I figure she had a valid point even back then: we can’t imagine life without email.

Email: the ever-faithful

One online marketing expert who has never lost faith in email marketing is Jon McCulloch, that irrepressible, potty-mouthed virtuoso who emails his list every day, Monday to Friday, and on weekends sometimes, too.

Much as you might think, “sh*t – email your list of clients and prospects every day?” Jon has proven many times over that this works wonders not only for him, but also for his clients whom he tutors both in Ireland where he lives and across the other main English speaking markets.

Needless to say there are some who get turned off by a daily email in their inboxes. But in McCulloch’s culture, those people aren’t worth having on your list anyway, because they are unlikely to buy from you and probably are there, even, as online equivalents of offline tire kickers.

If your email messages have been inspired by McCulloch who knows how to grab and keep hold of email list members’ loyalty, you end up – OK – with a mailing list that may not consist of too many … but each person on it is a valuable contact who is very likely to buy from you when s/he is ready.

I confess, I don’t email my list every day – it’s just not right for us. But I can see the logic in doing so for myriad SME businesses wherever you are.

What should your email marketing focus on?

A no-brainer, really? But wait a minute… If you’re going to keep in regular touch with your email list, sending out email marketing messages that are, well, just marketing messages, is going to bore them pretty quickly. Here are some ways to avoid that boredom element:

Take a leaf out of Jon McCulloch‘s book and be a story-teller. Write about anything that happens to you, as long as you can bring it back, in the Call To Action bit, so people make the connection between what you have written and what they need to do. I know I sound like a Jon McCulloch evangelist here, but trust me – this guy knows how to turn a dead rat into a worthwhile business parable and shares such lessons every day. Subscribe to his list and be amazed: buzz him on info@jonmcculloch.com. And I don’t even get paid for saying so.

Use it not as a means of selling, but as proper content marketing. In other words, just because it’s email marketing – and previously this was all about transposing good old sales letters to their new online equivalent – now, forget the heavy sales spiel. Use it to forge stronger links with your list members and make them realize why they subscribed to your list in the first place. Be yourself, write as yourself, and keep the “sell” element in its box.

Ask your list members to share this on. If what you produce in your email messages is worthwhile, some or even many of your listees may feel it’s worth sharing. Don’t hesitate to ask them to share on.

Get into curation: it’s priceless. Curation is all about getting hold of the pick of information on your topic from around the internet and sharing it with your audience. Don’t be territorial: if someone else has written a brilliant article about your topic, share it on. Who knows, the author may return the compliment one day. And much more to the point, your readers will thank you for sharing good, relevant information whether written by you or by Sir Richard Branson.

Email newsletters and blog posts: a symbiotic relationship

Depending on the nature of your business you can repurpose blog posts and email newsletters in very useful ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Preview of your next blog post sent out to your list before it’s published online
  • Round-up of abstracts of your blog posts of the week / month, with links to full versions
  • As above, but including the comments made on recent blog posts and the discussions that ensued
  • Brief summaries of your blog posts over the past week/month asking what subscribers would like to read about next

So: how do you feel about the resurgence of email marketing?

Please share!