Following last week’s Content Kitchen video Guy explained what permission marketing is and gave you three top tips to get you started:
- Be clear about what people are signing up for
- Give people an option to opt-out
- A yes is not forever – unsubscribing is a healthy sign
If you’re using email marketing to reach your customers you need to know how to reach out to and engage your potential customers. So in this blog post we explain more about permission marketing and how it can work for you.
Why is permission marketing important?
This means your content is delivered to the right people (those who are potential customers) at the right time (after they’ve given you permission).
Which side of the wall are you on?
As the internet has grown, so has the way businesses and brands market to their prospective customers. Permission marketing allows for personalised and long-term relationships that are built on trust and sharing, rather than traditional marketing methods that ‘interrupt’ consumers with advertising they don’t necessarily want to see.
Marketers seem to be on two sides of a wall – those who follow permission marketing and those who don’t. It seems like those who do are in the minority, but if you’re serious about building a community or ‘tribe’ who’ll respond to what you’re offering, then you need to follow a few basic principles.
1. Be clear about what people are signing up for
Let’s say on your website you’ve got a sign-up form saying: Sign up to our newsletter. But no-one signs up. Why? Because it’s not clear enough and doesn’t set expectations. How often will they receive emails? What kind of content will you be sending them? How will your content make their life better?
Make sure you’re explicit about what people are signing up for and how often you’ll be delivering your content to them. You can also provide a sweetener called a ‘lead magnet’. This is a valuable resource that you give away for free in return for an email address, such as an e-book or other useful download. You can read more about this in How to grow your email list using lead magnets.
2. Give people an option to opt-out
Giving your readers the option to opt-out of your email communications is really important. It reminds them that the whole process of receiving your emails is voluntary and they can choose to stop receiving them at any time. People often forget why they signed up in the first place or may not find the information useful anymore.
3. A yes is not forever – unsubscribing is a healthy sign
Yes, that’s right! When people are unsubscribing it means they’re engaging with your brand. And for every person that unsubscribes you’ll find another who signs up. This will enable you to find your ‘tribe’ – that is to say, people who are genuinely interested in the content you’re sending and some of whom may convert to paying customers.
Don’t worry when you see that someone has unsubscribed. It’s a very common trap to think that email lists are a numbers game. Having a big list is what we call a vanity metric. This is a number that makes you feel good about yourself or your business but provides little or no value. List growth can also be a vanity metric, i.e. my list is growing by X subscribers per day, week or month, but how many actually engage and eventually buy?
Always favour quality over quantity: it’s always better to have a small list of 100 people who show genuine interest in your brand, over a list of 1000 who don’t engage with you.
So where should you start?
A good way to start growing your business is to sign up for a free MailChimp account, as we showed you in 5 reasons why you should use MailChimp for your email marketing. The next step is where many people go wrong – they export all their contacts from their email into Mailchimp and start sending out regular emails. This approach will get you banned from MailChimp almost immediately! So it’s important to follow the correct guidelines that will ensure you get the most out of your email list.
What many people don’t realise is that good permission marketing by email works best when tightly integrated with regular blogging. So, in order to grow your email list you need to be creating regular high quality content that your subscribers look forward to receiving.
- Do some research – In how to do keyword research we explained why keyword research is so important for your website. In a nutshell, knowing which words and phrases people are using to search for your product or service is key to being found by the right people in organic search.
- Start regular blog posts – as we pointed out in 7 steps to writing a great blog post the key to growing and maintaining your audience is to publish consistently. Set a weekly or fortnightly schedule for blog posts and stick to it. Make sure you have a call-to-action in your blogs, such as a sign-up to receive emails containing future blogs or a lead magnet.
- Send an engagement email – to make sure you definitely have people’s permission to email them, send a one-off engagement email inviting them to opt in and be clear that you won’t email them again if they don’t.
Best practices for permission marketing
Content marketing is not a shortcut to success – it’s a methodical approach to growing an audience, some of whom will hopefully convert to customers. With that in mind, here are our top tips to ensure you’re following best practices for permission marketing.
- Always include a reminder of how people got added to your list and always give people the option to opt-out – these should both feature in the footer of every email.
- Make sure you segment your list, as explained in nurture your community by segmenting your email list. You can give people options to choose from, such as: “I’m interested in events in Stockholm” or “Send me your weekly inspiration email”.
- Regularly ask your subscribers for feedback – it doesn’t have to be a one way street. What do they like? What do they want more of? Do they like your next big idea?
- Periodically send out emails reminding people why they’re receiving your emails and let them know about any changes in scheduling or new emails you’re sending out.
- Give your subscribers the option to update their preferences and continue to receive content that’s relevant to them.
- Periodically prune your list and get rid of dead or unresponsive emails, as we detailed in 4 steps to a high quality email list.
- Grow slowly: it’s better to take your time creating content that people find useful and growing your email list slowly over time than aiming for fast growth.
By choosing to be on the permission marketing side of the wall, you can build trust and a loyal relationship with your audience. And by carefully tending to your email list and their preferences, you can create a ‘tribe’ of those people who are engaged and responsive to what you have to offer.
Not sure where to start? We offer a free consultation for anyone interested in learning more about authentic content marketing and what it can do for you. Get in touch to find out more!