E-Mail Campaigns: 8 Ways to Reach Customers Without Annoying Them

I’ve received a monthly e-mail newsletter from my chiropractor for nearly two years. The first one was so impersonal and poorly formatted that I never opened one again.

Still, it keeps coming—every month. No one in the chiropractor’s office has noticed that I don’t open it. Because they haven’t removed me from their list, I perceive what they send as spam.

That’s the downside of e-mail. On the other hand, an effective e-mail campaign can give you a comprehensive assessment of customer interests and trends. But, like every marketing effort, it requires a strategy. Here are eight tips for e-mailing customers without being an e-nnoyance:

  1. Develop a plan and start collecting e-mail addresses. Send a postcard to everyone in your database announcing the store is launching a new e-newsletter. The card should invite people to sign up, either by visiting the store Web site or stopping by the store. Mention that the store will offer members exclusive offers and promotions unavailable to other customers. This is more cost-effective than buying a list, which can be expensive and unreliable. It also ensures that you target existing customers who are more likely to feel comfortable participating.
    In addition, encourage your staff to ask for e-mail addresses and to talk up the e-mail campaign with customers.

  2. Think about what your customers would want in a newsletter. Brainstorm what information would set you apart from your competition. Also, ask your customers.

  3. Send e-mails only to people who have opted in or given permission to receive your messages. Those who ask for it are more likely to open it.

  4. Send e-mails on a regular basis. If you develop a monthly campaign, stick to that schedule. Running your e-mail campaign in-house can save money, but I’ve heard many stories of people who wound up hiring out to maintain a regular schedule.

  5. Track how your respondents use the e-mail. This means finding out if the customer opened the e-mail, what he or she looked at and clicked on, and if any action was taken. Did he redeem a promotion in the store? Did she buy something online? You should also know how many e-mails bounced as well as any spam reports. With e-mail campaigns, tracking is usually built into the software used to send the e-mail. If you’re working with an outside vendor, they should regularly provide you with a stat overview.

  6. Be sure to send new members a “We’re glad you signed up for our newsletter!” e-mail. It should include an opportunity to change or manage their preferences.

  7. Send members an annual statement reminding them why they’re receiving your e-mail. Again, give them a chance to change or manage preferences.

  8. If a customer is not opening your e-mails, remove him from your list. But first send a notification via snail mail. Include a coupon to invite her into the store. If he does not respond, remove him and send a postcard that states you’ve done so.