8 questions to ask before you start building your email list

 Email marketing  Comments Off on 8 questions to ask before you start building your email list
Sep 282016
 

House building

If you were building a house, you’d likely do some research about where you’re going to build, what materials you’re going to use and how you’re going to schedule the work. Wouldn’t you? It could go horribly wrong if you didn’t do that kind of research.

In the same way it pays to do a little research before building your email list.

Every business wants a big list. And that isn’t hard if you have a big budget or plenty of time.  However a big list of people who care nothing for your product or service is worse than no list. What we really want is a list of engaged subscribers who look forward to hearing from your business. To achieve that you need to ask yourself the following questions before you start growing your list:-

1.    Who are you targeting?

It may sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many people take the ‘anybody’ approach. This comes from a fear of possibly missing out on business if they narrow their focus to any particular group. Time and again it’s been shown that businesses that specialise and cater for a particular audience, get better quality business (more satisfying and more profitable). So sit down and have a long hard think about which group perfectly fits with your product or service. You might find it useful to do a Target Profile Interview to help with this one.

2.    What are the concerns and aspirations of this group?

The Target Profile, mentioned above, can really help nail the answer to this question. It will reveal the particular things about your business offerings that appeal to this group. For a tourist attraction it might be obvious things like location, price, seasonality but other things may be revealed that you hadn’t thought about, like entertaining visiting relatives, for instance. Once you have a sense of who is in this group, you need to find them.

3.    Where do they hang out (online, in person, print)?

Sure you can advertise your list on every social media platform available but take some time to also find the groups on those social media platforms where your target audience hang out. So for instance, if you are in tourism, sharing to your county tourism social media pages will give you far more reach.

Don’t over look capturing customer data from those who visit your premises. You can devise fun incentives for people to leave their email addresses. If you have online ticket booking, ensure you give customers the chance to opt in for your sales emails or e-news when they book.

For business to business, LinkedIn groups and publishing on LinkedIn are a great way to raise your profile and invite people to your sign up form.  Don’t forget trade publications and guest blogging. Most on and offline publications are desperate for good content.

Once you start seeing results through these free but time consuming methods then you’re ready to do some targeting advertising. At this point it is worth attending to the form your content might take.

4.    How do they prefer to consume information (audio, video, image, article)?

If for instance you are targeting business professionals then well-written articles may fit the bill, but it depends what sector you are in. While a well-crafted article can be persuasive in most industries, there is no doubt it is competing with video, image quotes, podcasts and giffs to grab attention. So you might want to think about using a combination of media to first grab attention and then deliver your message. This brings us to the content.

5.    What content can you create?

Working out how to create a regular supply of engaging content can prove a headache when you sit down with a blank piece of paper and try to come up with topics. Forget this approach. Spend some time out and about taking a walk in your customers shoes, either literally or in your mind.

As you connect more with where they are at and what they are looking for, you’ll begin to realise what sort of content will attract and intrigue them. It may be ‘how to’  articles or videos. It might be ‘behind the scenes’ video clips or blog posts, it could be photo stories of attractions and events in your area.

The scope is endless. The main thing is that you feel inspired and confident in this area and have something to say. The medium you use will depend on what you know about and what interests you eg. writing, video, graphics, photography or what you are interested in learning about. Once you have some idea of content, then it’s best to make a schedule.

6.    How will you make that a regular feature?

The longer I do this work, the less I realise you can cite any rules as absolute. So while I’m inclined to say a regular schedule of content delivery is important, I know plenty of businesses who get on just fine with a far more ad hoc approach. The important thing is to manage expectations. If delivery will be at random, then say so.

However, if you are just starting out with this, for your own sense of satisfaction and to be able to better measure results, then a schedule could be good. Again this is best done with a healthy balance of hope and realism. You may think you can create and deliver four articles a week but perhaps start with two a month and see how you get on. If that works well, you could increase to weekly. Taking some time to research and master a good delivery method is a good investment.

7.    How will you get it in front of your audience?

For small lists, under 2000 subscribers, MailChimp is my preferred favourite email content delivery method. (Disclaimer: I am a MailChimp expert and offer online live tuition via Google Hangout). It is a lovely programme but worth investing time to learn how it works and how to get the best from it. Your content may be great and you may have found where your potential subscribers are hanging out. How do you get them to actually subscribe?

8.    What can you offer as a sweetener?

A sweetener or a thank you for subscribing is always nice to offer. Depending on your business it might be a free pdf with useful tips, or a free quiz e.g. A personality quiz with some illuminating insights from the results.  A local guide to the area for tourism businesses, free audios for coaching businesses. You get the idea.

You might be thinking, isn’t it easier to just buy a huge list and work on the basis you’ll get some interest even if the majority unsubscribe or hit junk? Absolutely not a good idea. For a start you very rarely see a return on investment from purchasing lists if you are a small business.They are far too general to be useful.

Second, if a large number of people hit junk, companies like MailChimp may well suspend your account. So this kind of short cut won’t help in the long run.

So just as you wouldn’t just start piling bricks one on top of the other, wily nily when building a house, so don’t dive headlong into building your email list without first doing some preparation work.

If you’d like to book a one off or regular sessions with me, Juliet Fay to help develop your e-marketing, do get in touch.

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How to import subscribers from your Apple Address Book to a MailChimp List

 Email marketing, Farm Diversification, productivity  Comments Off on How to import subscribers from your Apple Address Book to a MailChimp List
Nov 212013
 

How to import subscribers from Apple Address Book or (Contacts application, as it’s been called since Mountain Lion) to your MailChimp Lists

If you’re using OS X 10.6.6 or later, Mail Chimp has a lovely app called Chimport to get your subscribers’ details from the Contacts (the name for Apple’s Address Book application since Mountain Lion) into your MailChimp List. Here’s MailChimp’s article showing you how. Fine……….

If it works!

I’ve just tried it and although it claimed to import the subscribers, they have not appeared in my MailChimp List. Uh Oh!

Don’t let that put you off, others have made it work. I’m on OS X 10.6.8. If you have a later operating system, it may work for you. Give it a try! Or you can try my work around below.

Another way

My workaround may seem to have many steps but it is simple and straightforward. If you can copy, paste and drag, you’ll be able to follow this tutorial.

Before you tackle this, make sure people on your list have opted in to receive marketing messages. If you’re not sure of the rules check out the law in your country. Here’s what the UK Information Commissioner’s Office has to say on the subject. Scroll down for regulations on Electronic Mail Marketing.

If you’re ready, let’s get to it.

Getting set up

1. Open a blank spreadsheet, use either Microsoft Excel or Numbers for Apple Mac.

2. Open Address Book

3. Close any other open applications.

4. Re-size the Address Book and spreadsheet windows so you can see both on the screen.

Selecting the contacts in Address Book

1. Click on Address Book. In the first column, called GROUP, select ALL CONTACTS or choose the GROUP containing the email addresses you want to export to MailChimp.

2. To select more than one GROUP, hold down the COMMAND ⌘ key and click on the GROUPs you want, one by one.

3. When you’re done, click on one of the contacts in the second column, NAME. Then select all the addresses. You can do this by holding down the COMMAND ⌘ key and clicking A or choosing SELECT ALL from the EDIT menu.

Dragging the contacts onto the spreadsheet

1. Now you’re going to drag those contacts onto the blank spreadsheet. So simply place the cursor somewhere on the selected addresses, click and hold while you move the mouse to drag the cursor to the spreadsheet.

2. As you hover over the blank spreadsheet, you’ll see a white plus sign in a green circle and a red circle with the number of contacts in it. Let go of the mouse.

3. Next, you want to select the contacts in the spreadsheet. It’s very important, you only select cells that have contact details in them. Don’t highlight the column names. To do this click in the first cell of the first column that has data in it. Then hold down the SHIFT key and click on the last cell that has data in it.

 

If you have problems clicking on a cell containing an email address, hold down the SHIFT key and click on the cell to the left of the last one, then still holding down SHIFT, use the right arrow on your key board to move into the last cell.

Don’t worry about the order of the data. It doesn’t matter whether your first column is LAST NAME, FIRST NAME or EMAIL ADDRESS. You can sort this out during the IMPORT process.

4. Copy the data either using ⌘C or the COPY option from the EDIT MENU.

Copying and pasting the contacts into your MailChimp List

1. Now, go into your web browser (Google Chrome or Firefox for preference) and log in to your MailChimp account.

2. Select LISTS from the left hand side.

3. On the far right of the screen is a downward pointing triangle next to a button marked STATS. Click on that downward pointing arrow for the list you want and select IMPORT.

4. Scroll down and click on COPY/ PASTE FROM EXCEL. It is the second button in the top row.

5. Place your cursor in the box below where it says PASTE YOUR LIST. And paste your contacts using ⌘V or choose the PASTE option from the EDIT MENU.

6. If you have set up groups for this list, you’ll have the option to choose a group at this stage.

7. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see the IMPORT button. Hit the button.

8. Next MAILCHIMP will ask you to match columns. In the first column you will either see MAKE A SELECTION or MAILCHIMP will suggest a column name e.g. EMAIL ADDRESS. To make a selection use the pull down menu, to find the appropriate column name, e.g. FIRST NAME. Then click OK. If MAILCHIMP has already made the correct selection, you just click OK or if you don’t want that data imported e.g. Phone numbers, then click SKIP. Then you’ll move to the next column. Check each column and click OK or SKIP. There’s a short cut if you have a large number of columns.

10. If you have brought in a large number of columns and you realise you don’t need most of them, there is a SKIP ALL option, it is above the columns, in blue text, in brackets after the text about how many unmatched columns are left. Only use this once you have hit OK for the email address column, first name and last name (if you have them).

11. Once the IMPORT is complete, check the list to make sure it has come in as you intended.

That’s it. Use the comments to let me know if this worked for you or if you tried out Chimport, I’d love to hear how you got on.

Apr 162013
 
Benefits of running build over time

As with running the benefits of email marketing build over time

I’m a runner. Not particularly fast or fit. Some weeks I hardly run at all. Other weeks I’ll cover 15km. I started running in 2007. At first it was awful. After just 2 minutes, I thought my lungs would burst. But I’ve kept at it. Over time, it’s got easier and I’m fitter as a result.

When I run, I feel sharper, mentally and physically. As I urge tired legs up the hills around my farm, I appreciate the changing beauty of this place I call home. The more I run, the better life gets.

Email marketing is a bit like running. It’s hard to get started. Easy to give up in frustration but the benefits come over time, if you persist and build your skills.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is using email to send out regular updates – offers, news, events, articles, links to videos or photo galleries – to a targeted audience. The idea is, to get that audience to act. Learning, sharing, booking and buying are all good outcomes.

Why is email marketing important for rural businesses?

Daily it seems, ever more glamorous forms of communication mushroom all over the web. It’s not just Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn but Foursquare, Pinterest and no doubt there’ll be more.

It’s tempting to believe those who claim email marketing has had its day. Too slow, too overdone. Social media is the place to build businesses, relationships and whole new civilisations. So they say.

That’s not my experience.

Email marketing is my number one sales tool. Done well, I believe it offers rural businesses a reliable and robust route to sustainable commerce. Every email I send provokes a response. Requests for training, for coaching, for a marketing consultancy quote, or more details on writing services I offer.

Email marketing has brought me business

More than that, it has built a small tribe of people interested in learning more about rural marketing, email marketing and digital tools. People who believe in the value of learning and who strive to do things better. My subscribers share a similar outlook. They shy away from over hyped marketing tactics.  Rather they want robust forms of commerce, based on strong relationships with loyal customers.

Email marketing is a powerful tool to do just that.

Why email marketing is so effective for rural businesses

Here’s 10 ways I’ve found email marketing builds value for rural businesses and their customers:

  1. The discipline of writing the articles month in month out helps build your confidence in your area of expertise.
  2. Researching articles keeps your specialist knowledge up to date.
  3. Answering questions from clients, forums or social media groups, helps your audience make better decisions.
  4. Your regular articles keep you and your services or products in view of your subscribers.
  5. Sharing your knowledge, establishes your credibility and gives the back story to your products and services.
  6. Sharing your expertise gives prospective customers a ‘no pressure’ look at what you offer.
  7. It’s an opportunity to educate subscribers before they become customers. For example an article on the legal issues around email marketing may make a subscriber realise that they need to learn more about the subject. That might prompt them to come on a workshop.
  8. In a networking situation, it’s far easier to ask someone to join your mailing list than for to ask for a sales meeting. Then you have time to build the relationship.
  9. You can measure results (using programmes like MailChimp) and try out small changes, one at a time, to improve results.
  10. Email marketing (using programmes like MailChimp) is free or low cost and you can do it any time of day or night using scheduling tools.

How do you keep an e-newsletter going?

Here’s my list of tools and strategies:

  • I use a timetable, breaking up the process and sending out 2 articles a month.
  • I use a programme called MailChimp. It’s internet based and is free to use if your list is under 6000 contacts.
  • I gather topics (often from subscriber questions) as I go about my business.
  • Articles are often prompted by things I read on Twitter, questions from clients and stories from businesses.

How do you tackle the business of writing?

I keep a store of topics and use outlines extensively. Ideally I’ll write the outline a day or two before I draft the article. If I can also leave a few hours before editing and uploading the article, I tend to get a better result.

That’s okay for business to business services but what about business to consumer?

Whatever business you’re in, you can take the knowledge and experience you’ve built up and present it in bite size, helpful articles. If you sell plants, offer gardening tips. If you produce free-range meat, share seasonal recipes. If you’re a builder, give building maintenance hints. Jewellery maker? Style guides. Web designer? Search engine optimisation advice. It’s not so difficult to extract the knowledge in your head. But yes, it does take time.

Isn’t email marketing a time consuming activity with no guarantee of good results?

All marketing & promotion is time consuming. Networking is time consuming. Email marketing is a long term strategy. It builds an engaged audience of people willing to buy from you. It gives you a sustainable marketing strategy without using hard sell tactics. You can easily measure the impact of your campaigns and fine tune for better results.

Don’t just take my word for it. As well as her 350K plus fans, Mari Smith, Queen of Facebook marketing, sends out an e-newsletter called Social Scoop.

Email marketing has allowed me to build a professionally satisfying and financially viable consultancy and training business from a remote Welsh hillside. It enables me to live the life I want (most of the time) which includes running around these beautiful Carmarthenshire lanes come rain or shine.

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Want to learn more about Email Marketing and MailChimp?

Early Bird single and double tickets now available for Email Marketing Workshops. Visit my Events page for more details.

Coming soon Email Marketing Online Training programme. Join the mailing list to keep up to date with release notes.

 

Cool apps from MailChimp for mobile email marketing

 Direct selling farm produce, Email marketing, farm retail  Comments Off on Cool apps from MailChimp for mobile email marketing
Sep 262012
 

I found an excellent list of apps from MailChimp to improve subscribers’ experience when receiving your email marketing campaigns on their mobile phones.

Of particular interest for farm retailers and farm entrepreneurs are:

Pyow for iPhones

A free app to generate and manage QR based coupons in MailChimp email campaigns via mobiles. You create a coupon in your campaign. Then when your customer shows up at the stall with the coupon showing on their phone, you simply scan the QR card with Pyow and verify the coupon. You can set how many times the coupon can be redeemed. This makes using email marketing to bring customers to your markets even more useful for you and your customers.

Find Pyow in the Apple App store.

Chimpadeedoo for iPad

Wouldn’t it be great if you could get people to sign up to your list on the spot? If you have an iPad, now you can! Chimpadeedo is a sign up app for iPad. You don’t even need to be connected to the internet. The app will collect subscriptions and store them until the next time you’re connected, then it pushes the contacts to your main MailChimp account.

This would be perfect at festivals, shows and events. If people are engaged and interested, ask if they’d like to subscribe there and then. Even at permanent retails outlets, like Farm Shops, you could have the iPad secured near the counter and if people are queuing encourage them to sign up. Restaurants and cafes too, could make it oh so easy for people to subscribe. If you do box scheme deliveries and people stop you at the van, you could ask them to sign up to find out more.

But remember, you don’t have a right to email people. They are doing you a favour when they give you their email address. And all the fancy apps in the world won’t persuade them to part with their personal information unless you are offering something of value.

So be clear and specific about what you offer. For example. Sign up here to get monthly updates of our new products/special themed nights/food tasting events/reminders about our next markets. It is easier to be clear and specific if you segment your lists and allow subscribers to choose the information they want.

Find Chimpadeedoo in the Apple App store.

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