A few years ago, we were all saying how email was dead, long live social! Well I think we’re all eating those words a little. Social, eg. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc, is still very important, it’s just that email lists can be just as relevant and for many, an even more marketing and communication tool.
Over the years we’ve put together a few emails for our own projects as well as for clients. Here are some suggestions for Indigenous organisations and Indigenous businesses to get started growing their email list.
Use a dedicated 2-step opt-in email service
NEVER send your regular newsletter from your own email address! Using your own email account to send emails means that you can never really grow beyond a couple of hundred subscribers. Your email will generally end up in people’s spam folders. There’s a good chance your email account will get blacklisted by ISPs as a spammer.
Using a dedicated opt-in email services has a lot of benefits.
- Opt-in services provide links for subscribers to opt-in to subscriptions. This means subscribers themselves are making the decision to receive your emails. There’s a real difference between someone who has had their name added to a list versus someone who has taken the time to subscribe themselves. With the latter, you have permission to communicate. (The two-step opt-in comes when subscribers are sent an email that they must click to confirm their subscription)
- Subscribers are able to easily, in one or two clicks, un-subscribe from your list (a condition of anti-spam legislation)
- When you set up your account, the sign up form has a link that you can share across your channels.
- Once published, each email also has a unique URL that you can share across your other channels (as well as link to an archive on your website).
- Opt-in services are generally white-listed which means they’re not penalised by ISPs and sent automatically to your spam folder.
We regularly use Mailchimp, a US based service whose only business is email. They have hundreds of different templates that you can customise and make your own. Many of the tools are drag and drop, the user interface is intuitive and easy for lay people to use. Their templates are fully responsive so that they can be viewed on a range of devices. Mailchimp also gives you access to insights – information about how many people are reading your email, what they’re reading, whether they’re clicking through to your site. This information allows you test different communication techniques over time. With Mailchimp you can also set up a number of lists within your database. You’re limited only by the information you capture. Mailchimp also has a number of pricing levels with a free option for accounts that send only a few hundred emails each month (great for start-ups).
Use your email as a round up of your business activities
Your email can be a round-up of your activity (for a week, month, or even quarterly). Capture your previous month’s activities blog posts, updates, news, events. You can link directly from your newsletter to your website so that your visitor numbers are increased.
Use your email to preview New Product Releases and Offers
Depending on your business, use your email list to announce new product releases. To increase your email list, you can also have offers that are exclusive to your email subscribers only.
Use your email to provide premium and exclusive content
Do you have expertise in a unique field? If you can find an audience for your knowledge and expertise, perhaps you may be able to monetise that service? As your audience and leadership role grows, you may find that you can offer exclusive content (either for free or for a fee) that grows an aspect of your business.
Just as sending your newsletter from your email is unacceptable practice, so too is creating your newsletter in publisher or word and saving as a PDF. These formats are almost the antithesis of social. If you’re going to the effort of creating and/or curating content, you want that content to be shareable. Don’t lock it up in a PDF or in your email account.
With a relatively small investment, you can create a unique newsletter that you can share with your audience, and in turn, your audience can share through their channels.