“Dear Content Provider, Please stop calling me ‘Subscriber.’ I find it even more jarring than being called !FirstName! At least when I’m called !FirstName! I can shake my head and commiserate: Somebody missed a tag in their autoresponder email. (I can relate to that.) When you call me ‘Subscriber,’ I can only surmise that you simply don’t care. Also, please stop calling me ‘Dear Friend.’ I don’t know you from Adam, and frankly, when you call me ‘Dear Friend’ I start to worry that someone has died.”
Aaargh! Yesterday afternoon I opened an email from a fairly well-known financial analyst whose market musings I followed. That I received the email wasn’t a surprise: I subscribed to his list. Subscribing to his list means that I had to enter my name and my email address (and as I recall, a lot more than that) into a form on a page on the internet to receive his information via a weekly email.
The analyst gathered my information so that he could send me his thoughts regarding the financial markets, but also so that he could market to me. When he “asked” me to put my name and email into the form on the internet, I’m sure he offered me some sort of report for doing so. That was part of the bargain, or part of the bribe: “I’ll give you this, you give me your information.”
That’s part and parcel of building a list, and a list is a marketer’s best friend.
Marketers “talk” to the members on their lists via email. Since these lists can grow into the hundreds of thousands, it’s impossible for any one person to send out THAT many emails in a day. We use tools that help us to manage our database and manage our messages. One of the tools that we use is called an autoresponder.
An autoresponder does what it sounds like it does: it responds automatically. But that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do any work! In it’s most basic form, an autoresponder is an online software program that captures your client’s information when they opt in to your list. The autoresponder then stores their information in a database for you, and will send out messages, or campaigns, pre-written by you, on a pre-set schedule that you select.
The messages can “speak” to your client about anything you’d like: for instance, they can be doling out your “10 Steps To Successful Quilting” course over the course of 10 days, or providing your client with some other free information that they can use in exchange for their name and email address, and most importantly, the permission to email them to remind them once in a while about your product or to introduce them to new ones.
Additionally, an autoresponder allows you to send an impromptu message to your clients whenever you like. For instance, if you’re a blogger and you’ve just posted something that you think your list will enjoy, you can access your autoresponder account, choose the list(s) that you want to notify (you can build more than one list!) and send them a quick email letting them know that you’ve just posted something that you think they’ll like.
Using an autoresponder to communicate with your clients is all about building relationships. The better the relationship you have with your clients, the more responsive they will be when you introduce them to a new product: they’ll know that you consistently provide them with quality information, that you’ve provided them with quality products in the past, and they’ll be willing to go the distance with you.
Why am I so miffed with Mr. Finance? When you’re building email campaigns in your autoresponder, there are coded tags that you can insert into your email for everything from first names to your signature. You essentially write the letter once, and the system uses the tags to pull the correct information from each client’s record and fills in the blank appropriately. So, for instance, if I write “Dear !FirstName!,” the system will fill in “Dear Jack,” in the email that you receive if Jack is your name.
Mr. Finance’s team didn’t bother with that. They wrote a letter that deliberately called me “Subscriber.” I unsubscribed.
If you’re going to write a letter to someone, if you’re going to speak to them in any way at all, use their name. It’s a common courtesy, people love it, and it brings your message into the realm of “personal.” Marketing is all about personal; communication is all about common sense. I guess Mr. Finance has more common cents than common sense: Don’t make the same mistake that his team did! Personalize your emails with a simple tag.
There are a number of companies that offer autoresponders online and I encourage you to do your own research, but I can save you a little time: If you’re ever in the market for an autoresponder, choose a reputable company; anything short of sterling quality and you’ll find that your emails won’t find their intended recipients. If your emails don’t get through, there’s no point in sending them. Personally, I recommend AWeber, though I have also used Get Response and iContact with great success.