One of the first things I did when I started doing craft shows was put out a notepad and a pen so that customers (or potential ones) could subscribe to my mailing list. Throughout my business, I used MailChimp for my mailing list because it was free and I thought I didn't need anything fancy. I'd collect emails at shows, or offer discounts on my website, and then I'd send out an email with a flash sale when I needed to make rent.
I'd throw up some pretty product pics, my logo, and my sale code then send it out and cross my fingers.
And I'd get like, 5 sales.
So why did it fail so often? Because there wasn't a relationship with my customers outside of me yelling “SELL! I HAVE THINGS TO SELL! BUY THE THINGS I HAVE TO SELL!” Besides my Mom and Gram (because they're always my cheerleaders), who cares? I wasn't trying to have a conversation with my customers. Instead, I was yelling at them when I was in an emergency. It was intrusive and I bet that many of my customers had totally forgotten they were even on my mailing list because there was no regular communication.
“But Megan,” you say “I don't want to bother my customers!” and I get that. I really, REALLY do. We all get ridiculous amounts of email and you adding to the noise will just make you feel like you're becoming a nuisance.
There's a trick to this, and like DMX I'm gonna give it to ya. Ready? Your mailing list will not despise you if you give regular content that is valuable.
Let's get real here: there are people that will hate the number of regular emails you send. They'll unsubscribe. BUH-BYE! Don't even worry about it because how much money do you think you were making from them anyhow? These people aren't your customers, they aren't someone that wants to be part of your circle so don't even sweat it. They ain't invited to the par-tay.
Don't worry about those that unsubscribe from your mailing list because you're sending too many emails. They aren't your customer and they aren't invited to the party.
What you need to do is rethink the goal of your mailing list. Having a newsletter is a key tool in developing a relationship that is outside of your website. It can be used to sell, yes, but it can also be used to give.
If you read this blog a lot, then you probably see I mention the KNOW. LIKE. TRUST. factor a lot. Like, a lot a lot. KNOW. LIKE. TRUST. is so important when it comes to asking someone to buy your products.
Much like making a blog is a great way to increase your authority, so too can a newsletter increase your status in the minds of your customers.
Being in their face all the time is gross. I've unsubscribed from numerous newsletters all because they sent me nothing but crappy sales in stuff I wasn't ever interested in. You know whose newsletters I've kept?
Why? Because their emails are plain, they aren't all over the place with imagery or colors. They're simple. They send them weekly. All of their emails are essentially just blog posts with a link or two. They're rarely about selling to me but more about either teaching me something about business OR teaching me something about them.
And I like those women. I've never met any of them in person but I DESPERATELY want to be BFFs with all of them (seriously, Chalene? Email me.). I didn't get on their lists to get a discount, I actually got on their lists because they sent me free shit.
Over time, I began to learn about each of them, and their regular weekly emails kept them in the forefront of my brain. I've purchased things from a few of them, the others I have an intention to when I'm ready to work on the skills they teach, but I wouldn't think of going to anyone else outside of them for the same product. Why? Because I know what they're about, I like them (side story: I knew immediately I would like my accountant because he said to me during a phone call “They [NYS] are so full of shit.”), and I trust they know what they're talking about.
So much so that I refer OTHER people to them, because I want to support those women because they've given me so much value for free.
Here's another thought: Old-timey newsletters were sent out to update friends and loved ones about the family. They weren't sent out with “HEY HEY HEY HERE'S SOMETHING YOU CAN BUY THAT I MADE” but instead were sent to continue a bond with the recipient. Do you see what I'm getting at?
So what should you send out to your mailing list?
Send things that provide value and work into KNOW. LIKE. TRUST. Peel back the curtain to your business and show your customers how things are made, what inspires you, tell a story about where you started and why you started. Send style guides, recipes, printables, things that aren't about making a sale, but about building a relationship and creating a connection.