8 Steps for a Great Mailing List
Last Updated July 07, 2017
Mailing lists can help build a community around your tour by demonstrating consistency and value to the guest.
People despise current email marketing tactics because organizations send…well, mostly crap. As companies like MailChimp, Constant Contact, and iContact made it easier to send emails, companies took advantage of this to overwhelm people’s inboxes. Instead of sending something of value, companies began sending promotion after promotion. Eventually, you probably stopped checking these emails because there was nothing in them for you.
I believe we’re about to enter a time that’s focused more on quality, instead of quantity. Meaning, you can use the following guide to setup and focus on sending just 1 email per month. You don’t need to overwhelm people, or set up a regimented schedule to email people multiple times per week. All it takes is 1, well thought out email per month.
1) Create an Account at MailChimp.com (if you don’t have one already)
MailChimp.com is going to hold all of your email contacts, as well as the content of each email you send. Every time you send a new email out to your list, it’s known as a campaign.
2) Set up a Mailing List Template
MailChimp will guide you through this process. I promise you, they have invested a lot of money to create a process that is easy to use. It’ll take you step-by-step to get this setup.
3) Understand Who Is Reading
We don’t want to send people recycled crap. What you send should be thoughtful. Like a mix tape of content that you put together specifically for them. When you know who you’re writing for, it’s easier to know what to write.
If you haven’t defined the ideal guest for your, take 5 minutes to step through this User Persona worksheet (link: https://ezsites.typeform.com/to/xUnVTp). When you understand the person receiving the email, it’ll also help you understand what that person would want to receive.
4) Understand why they want to read what you sent
If you don’t know why your guest would want to read your email, don’t send it. You need to be able to complete the sentence, “A person wants to receive my email newsletter because ____________”. Knowing this helps keep you focused on providing value, instead of just sending those promotional emails you hate getting.
5) Create Categories of Content
For your mailing list, you’re going to come up with 5 different “categories” of content you want to send. For example, if you’re a food tour, the five categories you send out might be:
- A recipe
- An interview with a local chef
- News about your city
- A short letter from the owner/operator of the tour
- A list of local events
These categories can vary drastically depending on your ideal guest. Understanding your guest’s fears, motivators, and objections will help you understand what categories to create and the type of content to send.
6) Improve Your Categories Over Time
The idea is to try out different types of content to see what people click on. You can track what was clicked using Click Maps in MailChimp’s reporting functionality. Over time, you’ll be able to remove the categories that don’t interest people and place in new categories.
7) Establish a Send Date
Consistency is the key. You want to pick the same timeframe each month to send the email. Plan these dates out in advance and have your email ready to send at least 1 week before the scheduled send date.
8) Don’t Send Crap
In any kind of marketing, you’ll find yourself in a better spot when you focus on a “give, don’t ask” approach. A good guideline is the 80/20 principle. 80% of your emails should provide value, while 20% can offer promotions.
When you receive coupons from a store in your email, they’re asking you to spend money with them. Do not do this all the time or you’ll wear people out and make them uninterested in your brand. This has probably happened to you on several occasions.
Be sure to send something valuable to the person on the other end. Something that will help them do, whatever they need to do. This is why you take the time to create a user persona, to truly understand who is on the receiving end.
Following these steps should help you get a basic mailing list off the ground. Over time, learn. Get creative. Talk to your customers, understand who they are, what they want, and how you can help them most.
To close, I’ve included an example from one of my favorite email newsletters to receive. InVision does an amazing job of knowing who I am, why I use their product, and sending me other articles that could help me in my day-to-day activities.
Each of the categories includes an image, title, 1–2 sentences, and a link to read more. With it, you’re not forcing a user to read through paragraphs of text to understand what you’re trying to send. It’s simple, effective, and focused on quickly providing valuable content.
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