I know you would never ever send out a mass e-mail to your whole contact list. And you would never send one out with all of the names and addresses visible to everyone who gets it. Would you? Please say that you wouldn’t or if you have that you won’t do it again. The only exception is if you are working on a small committee and everyone needs each others’ e-mail addresses to keep in touch. Instead, start a MailChimp account, where you can have an email list that you send messages out, free of charge to lists with up to 2000 names.
To get your list started, create an Excel list with the names and e-mail addresses of your people, copy the list and paste it into MailChimp. Make sure you actually know these people, and they have given you permission to e-mail them. If you send out an e-mail and people don’t know you, they are likely to unsubscribe and or mark you as a dirty spammer, which can get you black listed from the e-mail service.
Send out a warm-up e-mail to get your list going. MailChimp gives you the choice to send an html email a plain text e-mail or an RSS e-mail. Choose the plain text e-mail, and simply write an e-mail like you would to a friend you haven’t been in touch with for a while and with whom you want to catch up with. Tell them about what you have been up to, what you’d like to send them and how often. Use their first names, not: Dear Judi Knight. That sounds spammy and just weird. If you do have permission to mail them then write them and tell them that you have actually added them to your new e-mail list and if they are not interested, they can click ‘unsubscribe’ and you will understand. If you do not have their permission to email them then write the same message but ask them to subscribe and include the link to the subscribe form.
Create a subscription form on your website and/or Facebook fan page. Offer people something they want, in order for them to sign up for your list. I should take notes on the titles of the enticing offers I run across on a weekly basis, which I eagerly sign my name to and hand out my e-mail in a heartbeat. Offer them something they want right now. It is better if it something immediate that they must have, such as the four things you absolutely should never say in an e-mail!
Be consistent. Do what you said you’d do and send an e-mail out on a regular basis. Take it seriously, and put some thought into it. Yes, it is a commitment, but these are your peeps. They can turn into friends and loyal fans and they will come to your restaurant, purchase your products, tell their friends about you and so much more, if you will keep in touch and offer value to their lives in some tangible or intangible way.
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