Last week I wrote about the benefits of writing blog posts and sending them out to your subscribers by email. You may have been thinking about sending out a newsletter but have been stopped in your tracks by the idea of starting a mailing list from scratch. Or perhaps you’ve had a sign-up form on your websites for years but never sent a single email to these people who invited you to message them.
Either way, you may be wondering what do you do now?
If you send out your emails to everyone you know, they’ll likely unsubscribe and be irritated that they never signed up to get emails from you. If you send out an email to subscribers who you’ve never before contacted, there’s a good chance they forgot they signed up to your list. That increases the likelihood that they will unsubscribe or worse yet, report your email as spam.
Most email providers have little tolerance for people who receive even a small percentage of un-subscribes and spam reports from a particular mailing. So you’re right to be concerned. Make a wrong move and your account could be suspended right out of the gate.
Not to worry. We’re going to share the “Warm-up Email” strategy we use to help our clients start a newsletter – without having to start from scratch. This strategy involves crafting a heartfelt “warm-up” email and customizing it for various subgroups of people you already know, that may be interested in receiving your emails.
Here are the steps to take.
1. Export your contact list into a master spreadsheet and organize the contacts into groups like these:
- People who have signed up to your list but have never received anything from you.
- Family and close friends (people who would never call you a spammer or immediately unsubscribe).
- Close colleagues in your inner circle (people who would never call you a spammer or immediately unsubscribe)
- Colleagues that are not in your immediate circle of friends.
- People from your church, your book club, or other organizations to which you belong.
- Current clients, within the past year.
2. Keep the first names in the first column, the last names in the second column and the email addresses in the third column. Remove all the other data columns since you won’t need them.
3. Go through each name on this master spreadsheet and categorize the master list into the various groups you created such as Family/Close Friends, Close colleagues, Regular Colleagues, and Clients.
4. Export the names and email addresses of the people who may have already signed up to your mailing list and add them to a section of your master spreadsheet.
5. Check for duplicates and eliminate any duplicates from the lists. If people who have already signed up to your mailing list are on your other lists, remove them from the lists that have not signed up yet.
5. Once the duplicates have been dealt with, create separate spreadsheets for each of your categories and copy the data for the various groups onto their own spreadsheets.
6. Create separate email lists in MailChimp and name them for the different groups.
7. Import the names and emails on each spreadsheet into the appropriate MailChimp email lists.
8. Write a master warm-up email message that includes sharing what you’ve been up to and tells your recipients that you are starting a newsletter. Describe the type and content you will be sending out in your newsletter and let them know how often you’ll be sending it. Inform them about any specific benefits they might receive from getting your newsletter.
9. Customize that message for each of your groups. For example, the message you write will be different for people who have already signed up for your list yet never have received an email from you and the message you write to a colleague who may be interested in what you are doing. Vary your tone and voice as you would naturally do when communicating with people in the various groups. Be sure you start the email message by pulling in their first name, Hi there, <firstname>.
10. It’s best not to use a fancy template or add an email header, a logo or an image to these emails. You want the message you’ll be sending to look as much like a normal email as possible. Of course, people will know it’s a group email since it will include the usual “unsubscribe” link near the bottom, but the more it looks like a personal message, the more effective it will be.
11. Now for the most crucial part of the process. You will vary the way you invite the different types of groups to join your list.
a. Go ahead and subscribe the people in the groups that include people who have already signed up and its been a long while since they heard from you. Also, add people to your list from groups that are made up of close family and friends. Explain to them that you’ve taken the liberty to add them to your newsletter list. But, let them know that you’ll understand if they aren’t interested in receiving these emails from you, and in that case, they should unsubscribe with the rather large Unsubscribe Link right you add below.
If people on these lists don’t unsubscribe within three days, import them into your main MailChimp newsletter list.
b. Invite people to subscribe who are members of groups who are not in your inner circles. Include a large “Subscribe” link to your message. When these people subscribe, they will automatically appear on your main email list and require no further action on your part. If after several days they have not subscribed, respect their choice and after several days, delete the lists they were on.
When you complete this process, you will have one Mail Chimp email list that will include all of the people who have given their permission for you to visit their inboxes. Understand the privilege they have bestowed upon you, and strive to provide them the best of information. Keep up your momentum and this will be the start of a growing list of loyal fans.