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MailChimp for Small Businesses Part 1

We get asked by many small businesses about email marketing. Some of them have dabbled in email marketing with little consistency and some have been sending groups of emails from Outlook for the past couple of years. After seeing other small businesses sending more professional email services, these small businesses see some potential for themselves. This will be the start to a series to get yourself started with email marketing, more specifically using the MailChimp platform. We must start with the extreme basics.

What is Email Marketing?

I have explained email marketing in the past, but I think it is important to have a refresher. Before getting started with your own campaigns it would be helpful for you to truly understand what email marketing is. I want you to think of this style of marketing slightly different than you probably already do. You probably consider email marketing as a way to send your marketing message directly to someones email box in hopes that they will turn into a lead or a sale. If only it were that easy. Try to think of email marketing as "permission marketing". You have a list of 50, 500, 5,000 or 500,000 people that have given you permission to send them correspondence to one of the places they spend a good deal of time throughout the day, their email inbox. The term permission marketing was coined by Seth Godin.

There are a couple of things you need to consider when using permission marketing to send you messages:

Building a List

I understand that it can be a slow process to build a large email list, but you should build it legitimately. Don't go out and collect a bunch of email addresses that have no idea who you are or what you do. This would include email databases to chamber or other organizations you belong to. Just because you belong to the same organization doesn't mean they are giving you permission to send them email blasts. Your clients are probably OK to add to a list, but ultimately you need people to "Opt In" to your specific list. By opting in they realize that you will likely send them email campaigns at some point in the future. A person will generally opt in for an email list because they like your brand, are interested in or are using a service your provide, want to stay up to date on news, or are waiting for coupons and specials to be delivered to them. A person will NOT opt in to every sign up form they see just because there is empty form fields waiting for their email address. The WILL opt in if they have a reason to give you permission to contact them.

Don't Take Advantage of Their Permission

Think of reasons you opt into someones email list...now think of reasons why you opt out. One of the main reasons someone will opt out of the list is because the sender sends nothing but rubbish. When I opt in to a list I expect to get some good emails that I don't have to delete before reading. What does this mean? I like to get actual updates or actual news. If it's not worth sending, don't send it. If you promised coupons and specials, send them out. If you don't have anything good to say, make it funny. I can deal with pointless emails if they make me laugh. Finally, and maybe most important, DO NOT OVER SEND. Just because I gave you permission to email me, doesn't mean that I want 5 or 6 emails from you everyday. Save your emails for when you actually have some updates to give. You will keep a happy list if you keep those things in mind.

Why MailChimp?

MailChimp Mascot FreddieOf course their are several email platforms out there, but I am happy to say that I proudly endorse MailChimp. I have used a few other services and have not yet come across one that matches up to the value. First and foremost MailChimp is extremely easy to use. Everything from setting up an account, importing lists and creating templates is very easy for even a non-computer geek.

Second, it's affordable. You can currently send out 6,000 messages a month and have 2,000 subscribers for free! If you are a small business just starting out with permission marketing through email, this will be plenty to hold you over until you are a true email marketing samurai. Once your list starts to grow and you send out more frequent emails, the pricing plans are very affordable and they will adjust up and down automatically as your subscriber list shrinks or grows!

Third, the analytics. Nearly every email marketing platform you use these days will have some form of analytics. MailChimps is easy to read and provides a lot of great data. We will talk about email marketing data analysis in a later post.

Fourth, SocialPro. MailChimp pulls in social information from your subscribers based on email. The email that people use for permission marketing is often the same email they use to sign of for their social media sites. This is just an extra bit of knowledge for you to have about your follower base.

Finally, it's fun. Freddie the monkey is hilarious. Freddie is the mascot for MailChimp and says quirky things to while you are logged in. I am pretty sure that he thinks of everything himself. Humor goes a long way in a busy work day. It provides something a little bit different to break up the constant professional language that you see the other 7 and a half hours from the rest of the day.

So Now You Understand, Right?

I felt that it was extremely important for you to understand the basics of email marketing before jumping in. You are probably waiting for the "how to's", but be patient, they will come soon enough. My next blog post is Tuesday so be prepared for Part 2!