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Your Communication with Your Mail List

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To be successful with private mail list marketing, you have to have a great targeted list and you have to know how to communicate effectively with your subscribers. How often should they receive your messages? When do you start to become an irritant? What time and day are your recipients going to be most receptive? How should your communication be formatted? Should it be text or HTML? These all are important questions to be answered if you want to improve the response.

How often should you communicate? It depends on what you’re sending and what they asked to receive. Newsletters should generally be sent out every couple of weeks or once a month. Special promotions, coupons, and e-specials generally will be sent out weekly or biweekly at a consistent time. What’s-new updates would generally be sent monthly unless you’ve got something “hot.” Tips of the day should be sent . . . daily. Tips of the week should be sent . . . weekly.

The content should always be relevant, valuable, and useful to the recipient. You might consider sending different email content to different target markets. You might also consider doing dynamic personalization where everyone in your
database receives different specials or promotions based on their priorities, preferences, interests, or past purchases.

You might also consider sharing the load—making this a joint project with other, related organizations. That way everyone will contribute a little. There are many sources for your email content:

  • Create it yourself.
  • Find syndicated content online.
  • Reprint articles with permission.
  • Ask your business partners to contribute an article.
  • Recap highlights of interesting articles.
  • Interview an expert.

There are many places that offer syndicated content online. A few suggestions on where to find free articles include the following:

  • YellowBrix (
  • (
  • IdeaMarketers (
  • Amazines (
  • FreeSticky (

When should your communication be delivered? There have been many studies on this topic, and consensus has it:

  • Never send your message late in the day or first thing in the morning. If you do, your email is included in that large group that is in the recipient’s in-box first thing in the morning. You know what happens to all that email because you do it yourself—the first thing is to see how much you can delete, starting with anything that looks remotely like an ad or promotion.
  • Don’t send after 2 p.m. on Friday or at all in the afternoon on Friday in the summer months. Being buried in that huge pile awaiting a recipient on Monday morning is the kiss of death for your email.
  • Lunch hour is best. Generally, people clean out their email first thing in the morning and again before they go to lunch. After their lunch break they are a little more relaxed, and the first thing they do is check their email. This is the best chance for your email to get noticed.

When it comes to the formatting of your correspondence, if you communicate through a newsletter, coupons, e-specials, or similar type of marketing content, an HTML message has a better chance of grabbing the viewer’s attention. If your message is meant to look like a personal one-on-one message, then text-based is better. Your communications should be personalized using the recipient’s first name appropriately throughout the correspondence and in the subject field.

Your content should always be valuable, fresh, relevant, and succinct. One bad message could result in many “Unsubscribes.”

Each paragraph should be written so it can easily be scanned, containing no more than six or seven lines. Include calls to action.

Always encourage viral marketing—“Send a copy to a friend”—and provide instructions for the friend to subscribe to be included on your list.

Use a personal name in the “From” field. You want to build a relationship!

Take time with your subject field:

  • Avoid ad copy.
  • Avoid gimmicky slogans.
  • Build business credibility.
  • Use action words.
  • Be positive.

Personalize your message with the recipient’s first name in the subject field as well as the salutation and throughout the email. Good mail list software makes this easy to do.

More advanced Internet marketers are using dynamic personalization where the various parts of the message are personalized based on each individual’s priorities, preferences, past purchases, or other criteria.

Be sure to check the preview screen. Most email programs these days have a preview screen that allows users to get a glimpse of the message before they actually open it. You want the most important information of your email to show up in the preview screen, so be sure to keep it simple and to the point.

Close your email with a P.S. and use the P.S. to restate your offer, give it a sense of urgency, and make it easy for readers to respond. Use phrases like “while supplies last,” “in the next 24 hours,” “call now,” “reply to this email.” You should always place your P.S. above your signature, as most people do not read past the signature.

Provide rich content with links back to your Web site. The more time people spend on your site, the more your brand is reinforced and the more people start to get to know you, trust you, and see you as an expert in the field. People do business with people they know and trust. Differentiate yourself. Become the recognized expert.


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