Nobody stays in one place anymore. That is the title to a great song and the reality of today’s business world. Everybody is on the run constantly and how we communicate with one another couldn’t possibly be more different than it was ten years ago.
This is particularly true with how your business communicates with customers. Gone are the days of dropping by your customer’s office or place of business, hanging out and shooting the breeze. *TANGENT ALERT* By the way, have you ever seen anyone “shooting the breeze”? Seems to me that this would be an exercise in futility and a great way to have your local law enforcement ask questions about your sanity. *BACK TO THE POINT ALERT* Long story short, staying in contact with your customers is essential for your business, and how you go about that communication will determine much of your success.
Enter electronic mail. Customers want to stay in touch with the businesses they patronize and they want to do it in a way most convenient to them. It’s no wonder that email has become the most common form of advertisement and way for businesses to keep their clients up-to-date on new stuff. So, if you want to be a successful business, you should just email all of your customers all of the time? Wrong. You need to be smart about it! Every time you email your customers you are providing them a lens into how you do business and what you think of their relationship. It is not easy to create and maintain a successful email marketing process, but if you avoid the following mistakes you should be just fine:
Not Having Permission Want to show your customers that you don’t care about their privacy or how they want to work with you, then start sending them emails without getting their permission. We’ve all been there, going through our inbox deleting one item after the other. Wondering if someone who doesn’t like you gave your email address out to every Nigerian prince looking to ship money to the United States. Maybe that same hateful person thought you were really sick or unhealthy, which would explain the nonstop prescription drug solicitations you are getting (though I’m not sure buying all of the male enhancement prescriptions being emailed to me would be good for an Olympic athlete’s heart let alone mine). The point is, just like you wouldn’t want any of the businesses you deal with to call your house whenever they want, then you don’t want them to email you without discrimination either. Ask for you customer’s consent, make sure you keep it and provide them a way to unsubscribe or opt-out if they no longer want the emails. Respect their inboxes and you’ll be surprised how effective your emails can be!
Know Your Audience If the last ten years have changed the way that businesses market to their customers, then the last five years have changed the way that those customers access their email. We’ve talked before about how smartphones are integral to basically everyone in the recent “5 Killer Apps to Track Your Time and Increase Productivity” article. The way smartphones have impacted email marketing is how those emails need to be formatted now. If you are going to find ways to communicate regularly with your customers, understand that they are likely to access your emails on their smartphone. Make sure that your emails are formatted in a smartphone-friendly way. Don’t know how? Check out this article to familiarize yourself with email marketing to smartphones. Additionally, not all of your customers want to be emailed everything that you have to offer or communicate. There may be nothing more off-putting than receiving emails for stuff you have no interest in. To get the most out of your emails, make sure that you have asked your customers what type of things they’d like to be kept informed about. Save their preferences and most importantly adhere to them. There’s nothing worse than asking someone not to do something and they do it anyway…
Looking Like an Amateur Remember when your parents told you to mind your manners and be polite? They would tell you that how you presented yourself and your actions would be how people made their opinions about you. Well, once again, your parents have provided a pearl of wisdom to be followed in the business world. Your email communications with customers are an extension of you and your business. Likely, they will be how your customers interact with you most and how you will be able to update them on new things. Make sure that your emails and subjects lines are concise and professional. Spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes are unacceptable in the business world and your customers won’t soon forget the faux pas. If you are sending your customers emails, then you probably have a website. This means you have the ability to have your website’s domain name as part of your email address. Don’t include email addresses for them to get a hold of you that are from Gmail, AOL or other major providers. This will look unprofessional and tell your customers that you are running a poorly organized business. There are no shortages of great templates and examples of fabulous email marketing in your inbox. Study them, choose the best marketing techniques and then go communicate with your customers. Your communications with customers mean everything because they act as a representation of you and your business, so don’t make the common mistakes listed above. Your business depends on it!!
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