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Use LinkedIn for a mass email without angering your connections

Do you remember my cranky post railing against people who add me to their e-newsletter lists as soon as we connect on LinkedIn? I send those people’s communications straight to spam.

However, earlier this year I received a mass email from a LinkedIn connection that did not make me angry. Why? Because the sender made it clear that she would not bombard me with emails. Here’s the start of her email:

annual LinkedIn email

 

 

Why did this email work for me?

  1. The sender immediately reassured me that I was not being added to a frequent newsletter without my consent. Also, she enhanced her credibility by explaining why some recipients might see more of her than only her annual message.
  2. She sounded like a human being in her writing style, as shown by the third paragraph in the image.
  3. She offered some interesting information in the rest of the email.

 

Is this a technique that you could adapt for your communications with your LinkedIn connections? Tell me how it works out if you try it.

Catch e-newsletter non-openers with this technique

Do you feel disappointed when some of your e-newsletter subscribers fail to open your newsletters? It happens to everybody. The average “open” rate for financial e-newsletters is about 18%, according to Constant Contact.

I’ve learned a technique that has boosted my open rates significantly in two tests. First, I increased the open rate on one of my monthly e-newsletters from 20.4% to 29.1%. Second, I increased the open rate on one of my Weekly Tips from 20.7% to 27.2%. Since then, I’ve achieved open rates greater than 30% on some newsletters.

The secret of my higher open rates

I achieved this improvement by re-sending those emails to people who hadn’t opened them within about a week following their original sending. It’s big win to boost the open rate this easily.

How did I do it? I had my virtual assistant use the QuickSend feature in Constant Contact. I imagine that other forms of e-newsletter software offer similar features. For example, Mailchimp has an option to resend an unopened campaign.

I use QuickSend on every issue of my monthly newsletter. I use it on just one of my Weekly Tips because I don’t want to overwhelm my subscribers’ email in-boxes. I time the Weekly Tip re-send so it doesn’t overlap with the re-send of my monthly newsletter.

How about YOUR newsletters?

Look at your newsletters. Think about how you can use this feature. If your newsletter is monthly, it’s a no-brainer to use this QuickSend approach. If you publish more frequently, be careful that you don’t overwhelm your readers’ in-boxes.

Please tell me if it boosts your open rate and, more importantly, if it helps you to improve your relationships with clients and prospects.

Another tip for your e-newsletter

In addition to using QuickSend, I have another tip for boosting the open rate for your monthly newsletter.

Don’t wait until your regular monthly date to send a newsletter to a new subscriber. I try to send weekly to new subscribers. I hope to attract more attention by contacting them while they still remember signing up for my newsletter.

Quit sending press releases as attachments!

Is your goal to get your press releases deleted from the recipients’ email inboxes as quickly as possible? Then continue sending press releases as attachments to your emails. Oh, and here’s another helpful tip: don’t hint at the content of your press release in the body of your email. The body of your email should consist simply of “Here’s your press release for this week.”

If you think my first paragraph is sarcastic, you are right. I do not recommend sending press releases as attachments.

Why sending press releases as attachments is wrong

It is annoying to receive press release emails—indeed, any email—that refer you to an attachment for a reason to learn about the sender’s news. When you send press releases only as attachments, you’re making me 1) take an extra step to find the information I need and 2) expose myself to the risk of viruses in the attachment.

My attention span, like that of most email readers, isn’t very long. “Our initial data indicate that, on average, readers are spending 15-20 seconds on each email they open,” said Loren McDonald, EmailLabs VP Marketing in “Alarming Research Results: Average Email Open Time is 15-20 Seconds — Recommendations for Emailers.” That article appeared on MarketingSherpa back in 2005. I imagine that readers’ attention spans have only shrunk since then.

Improve the odds of my reading your press release

If I must click to open your press release sent as an attachment, you’re demanding too much of my time. At a minimum, you should insert some teaser copy in your email that gives me an incentive to click.

However, even better would be to drop the body of your press release into the body of your email.

Concerned that you’ll lose valuable formatting by dropping your text into email? Then use newsletter software such as MailChimp or Constant Contact to increase your control over the appearance of your release.

Why I’m lucky clients didn’t flock to me

I reluctantly launched my career as a freelancer after getting laid off from a wonderful investment communications
job at an investment management firm. After I decided to freelance, my phone didn’t ring with eager prospects. On the other hand, as an introvert, I didn’t do much to market myself. Cold calls? Heaven forbid.

Blessing in disguise

So, how was this a blessing in disguise? Because I developed a style of communicating that fits social media.

I wish I could say I foresaw social media. It might be nice to be a guru. But, I simply acted like myself.

I started an email list to stay in touch with the nice people at my old company. Rather than make my emails all about myself, I started writing up the presentations I attended at the Boston Security Analysts Society, where I networked regularly. I wrote about the bits that interested me, similar to the way I wrote up “How Merrill Lynch and US Trust stay relevant to clients, according to Justine Metz.”

When former colleague Tom Manning emailed me that he looked forward to my emails, I’d realized I’d stumbled onto something good. I turned my emails into a monthly e-newsletter, and I invited my networking contacts to subscribe. Those newsletter articles evolved into blog posts.

Back then, I looked jealously at writers who immediately landed steady work with earlier employers or their vast pool of contacts. But, if I’d done that, I wouldn’t have developed my newsletter, which has become the foundation of my success.

Lessons

I learned a style of marketing that works for an introvert like me, especially in the age of social media. Its components include the following:

  1. Give away useful content.
  2. Send mass emails only to people who agree to receive them.
  3. Keep your name in front of prospects on a regular basis. You can’t sell them until they’re ready to buy.

A veteran of the cold calling, hard sell school of marketing once told me, “You’re lucky you know how to write without always asking for the sale.”

I think I’m lucky the world has swung my way. I’m also grateful for the wonderful readers who have supported my e-newsletter and blog.

Help! My emails are too salesy

Nobody likes a pushy salesperson. Overly aggressive techniques can divert your email into spam folders. However, I believe it’s possible to market yourself without being too salesy.

I’m writing this post in response to an FPA Experience attendee who asked this question anonymously.

Focus on the prospect

If you understand your prospects’ hopes, dreams, and fears, you’re off to a great start. Focus your email on your prospects’ desires rather than your products, services, or needs. Potential clients or customers are most receptive when they feel you understand them.

Email structure

You can structure an email as follows:

  • You have this need
  • The solution to your need is…
  • The solution I offer will work for you because…
  • To learn more, take the following step.

Recipients must “opt in”

Your mass emails count as spam under the CAN-SPAM  Act. It’s not a question of being too salesy. Your communications are illegal if you don’t get permission to email the people on your list.

Offer something of value for free

You’re probably familiar with the offering of free reports to get people to agree to receive emails from you. It’s popular because it works, as long as the report provides useful content.

Don’t plug your product or service at length at the beginning of your first contact. Instead, leave it to the end or weave it unobtrusively into the body of your report.

On the other hand, don’t forget to promote your product or service in your freebie. That comes with the territory.

Expect that not everyone will buy

I wonder if my anonymous questioner felt too “salesy” because she or he didn’t get much of a response to emails or even lost some subscribers after an email blast. Low response rates and subscriber attrition aren’t unusual, but they may have nothing to do with you. Your offering simply may not meet the prospects’ needs or your timing isn’t right.

You can’t make everybody happy

At least one person will find you too salesy. I guarantee it.

When that happens, I remember what marketing expert Sandra Ahten told me, “Don’t worry if someone unsubscribes after you send a promotional email. That means they weren’t ever going to buy from you.” Sandra also said that interested prospects appreciate email reminders about your offerings. Despite my skepticism, I discovered she was right.

Test your email

You may not be the best judge of your email’s sales quotient. Running it by a friendly member of your target audience can give you a better sense of whether you hit the right tone.

You can also experiment with splitting your email list into two groups and sending them different versions of your email. If one segment of a homogeneous group responds better to Email Version 2, you know that’s the winner. Learn from what works in Email Version 2.

Your thoughts?

I don’t have the definitive answer to identifying what’s too salesy. Please share your opinions on this in the comments section below.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Stop Sending ‘Dear Valued Client’ Emails”

When you address your correspondence to “Dear Valued Client,” you send the wrong message. It says you don’t care enough to personalize your message.

So, check out the email solutions described in “Stop Sending ‘Dear Valued Client’ Emails” by Bill Winterberg on his FP Pad blog. He suggests using a service like Constant Contact, which I use to send my newsletter, or mail merge, like the function available in Microsoft Outlook.

Allow plenty of time to get the hang of mail merge. It’s complicated. At least, that’s my experience.

And, be sure to test your mail merge on non-clients before your first email to clients. 

I discovered some unexpected problems the first time I used Outlook’s mail merge function. Luckily, I’d used my husband as my mail-merge guinea pig. So none of the prospective clients for my writing and editing business had to suffer through my mistakes.

March 13, 2017 update: The number of newsletter services has multiplied since Bill and I originally wrote about this topic in 2008. If I were starting my newsletter today, I’d look at MailChimp (free for up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month) and other competitors to Constant Contact.

If you liked this article, you may also enjoy “Personalized subject lines can backfire in emails.”