There’s been an interesting discussion going on in a class I’m co-facilitating about the best way to reach customers and prospective customers:
Should you post your articles on a blog?
Should you email those articles to people who have subscribed to your list?
Or something else?
The Death of Opt-in Email?
Up until fairly recently, when you wanted to keep in touch with customers and prospects, you used email to send periodic messages to people who opted-in to receive your mailings.
For example, since 2005 I’ve been emailing my Contagious Marketing Ezine on a monthly basis (more recently bi-monthly).
Over the past few years, blogging has generated a lot of excitement as the best, coolest way to market your products and services online and the word is that “email is history. ”
Arguments in favor of Email’s impending demise include:
Email is less and less successful when it comes to reaching peoples’ in-boxes.
People are so sick of spam, they’re using aggressive settings to get rid of anything that has the faintest whiff of being an unwanted sales pitch.
More often your email is languishing in a Junk Mail folder … or even going straight to the Trash.
People are reluctant to share any personal information including their email address.
You don’t need to share any information when you are visiting a blog to access free articles, services, and so on.
People don’t have time to read articles. Blog posts are shorter and better fit our limited attention spans.
Blogs and social media applications like Twitter and Facebook allow people to interact. Email is only one way.
The “impending death of email” makes many small business owners nervous: should they invest any time or effort into growing an opt-in subscriber list? Or should they bag the idea of a subscriber list and just work on their blogs?
Opt-in Email: Not Dead Yet Baby
Although blogs and social media have opened up some very cool ways of connecting businesses to a communities which include but are not limited to their customers, I believe opt-in email still has a place in your small business’ marketing strategy.
An opt-in is a higher form of commitment.
When we give something, even something very small like our email address and permission for someone to send us stuff on a regular basis, we are making a small but significant commitment.
It is an action that tells the business owner that we are interested in what they are offering.
Because of the implied commitment, an opt-in allows more latitude for offering products and services you are selling. People are a lot more sensitive about blogs posts and social media that push sales pitches their way.
Personally, I have no problem reading an offer emailed to me if I opted into the list. But if someone I follow on Twitter, for instance, sends me a direct message asking me to “check out” some program they’re selling, I stop following them.
Opt-in email allows you to control who gets what and when.
Most opt-in email management services like Aweber, Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc allow you to create different groups to whom you can customize offers and information.
Some people just aren’t open to getting information through blogs. I’m horribly embarrassed to admit this publicly but I rarely, if ever, read my RSS feeds. I use blogs quite a bit, especially when I’m doing research and want to find out what others have to say on a topic but as way to keep in touch with a business, nope, I still prefer getting articles emailed to my inbox.
My Recommendation: a Hybrid Solution Rather than dumping one or the other, I use and recommend you consider using a “hybrid solution which allows you to take advantage of both technologies so that you can benefit from the unique benefits each offers.
Here’s what I do which, so far, has worked for me and adds minimal work:
I write my articles as blog posts directly within my blog.
Once my post is finished and edited, I copy and past the post as a message in aweber. Aweber is the service I use to email my articles to everyone subscribing to my Contagious Marketing ezine.
I use the application, Ping.fm to send a new post to my Facebook, Linked In and Twitter accounts which announces the new article and provides a link for anyone wanting to read it.
And voila! People who prefer to get my article emailed to their inbox get the article. People who prefer to subscribe to my blog get the article via RSS feed and people who follow me on Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn get a link to the article post on my blog.
It isn’t a perfect system: I include offers to buy products and services in my email articles. I don’t currently sell much on my blog.
And I’m still getting a sense of what kinds of offers work using Twitter and Facebook.
But it allows me to reach people who prefer opt-in email and people who prefer subscribing to blog posts and allows me to benefit from including offers as well as encouraging the two-way conversation that blogs facilitate.
If you’re a small business owner trying to sort through how best to communicate regularly with customers and other communities, I encourage you to use both opt-in email AND blogging.
Both methods offer unique advantages and you can adapt a system like mine which allows you to send your messages through both without spending much extra time.
Copyright ?? 2010 Judy Murdoch
— Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost, effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals, guerrilla marketing activities, and selected strategic alliances. To download a free copy of the workbook, “Where Does it Hurt? Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers Crazy!” go to http://www.judymurdoch.com/workbook.htm You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or firstname.lastname@example.org