To me, the hottest and sexiest social network right now is your inbox. Sure, I love Pinterest as much as the next guy (who likes Ryan Gosling’s abs), and I think it’s great that Zuck took the company public, made people angry for wearing a hoodie to Wall Street, and then got married. You already know I’m down with Google+. But if you want to know the hottest opportunity in the world? It’s the inbox. Your inbox.
I’ve talked about this in speeches often, but I realize that I’ve not covered it on my site, so here you go.
Your Inbox is SO Sexy – Email Marketing Tips
Here’s what I know: you sleep with the phone very close to your head, as if you will have to answer it at 2:30 to run out and save the world. I know that one of the very first things you do in the morning is check your inbox. I know that when you’re in between meetings or leaving a lunch date, you’ll check your inbox and your texts, maybe your tweets. I know that you won’t rush to catch up on your RSS reader. I know that’s not the first thing you reach for in the morning. I know that you have a different state of mental rhythms when thinking about your inbox than when you think about blogs you read.
Why aren’t we all thinking this way? That the inbox is the sexiest piece of real estate on the web?
How to Give An Inbox Love
First, if you’re going to send mail, send it from a real “from” address. It doesn’t have to be from your main address (shouldn’t be, really), but it shouldn’t be from “donotreply@pleasedon’tanyoneemailmehere.com.” If people can reply, they will more often. If you tell me you don’t want people to reply, you’re saying you don’t want a business relationship, and I can’t help you with that.
Second, I’m a much bigger fan of plain text and/or very simple HTML formats over very pretty formatting. People aren’t getting your information based on the fact it looks like a gorgeous web page in their inbox. They want to read it.
Third, I loathe the starting line of “having trouble viewing this? Click here to view it in an inbox.” No letter coming from my mom has ever started that way.
Fourth, keep your letters to sub-500 words. People love brevity. You do.
Fifth, end with one call to action. Ask people for one action per email. That’s the super magic trick. This one tip, executed well, is worth money to you.
This last tip is worth it’s own column.
Get an Email Service Provider
It’s not okay to just send newsletters via your Outlook or Gmail. Well, you can, but it’s very likely they’re not actually being delivered all that often. It’s also far too difficult to manage that method.
I believe you need a great email service provider. I use a fairly hardcore one called Infusionsoft (affiliate link). It has a lot of features and isn’t right for everyone. If you’re starting out, and/or if you don’t have a lot of complex automation and delivery needs, you would do well to check out Constant Contact and/or Mailchimp. At the bigger side of the pond, besides Infusionsoft, there are many more, including Silverpop and too many to name. All of them have their great points and their bad points.
My #1 question for any decision you make on a provider? “What’s your method for dealing with spam reports and what is your relationship with the various spam cops?” This is wholly why you should choose one platform over another. If you compete on price only, you’ll find a very affordable system that might be sending your mail into the void. Take this as a lesson from experience.
Inboxes Don’t Replace Blogs or Social Networks
I still keep [chrisbrogan.com] well fed. Why? Because Google search doesn’t look in your inbox, and people hoping to find me and learn more about what I do and sell. You can’t really cut that out, unless you don’t need a lot of organic search to sell what you do. You need to be on a few social networks (Twitter and pick one). Why? Because you need serendipity plus the opportunity to connect where people are talking. You can’t replace that, and it just doesn’t happen on your blog. But again, this doesn’t replace your main site or blog. It feeds it. That’s the goal. Feeding.
My Secret Sauce at MY Newsletter
I’ll tell you what I’m doing differently at my newsletter, and I really encourage you to sign up for yourself to learn by observing, if you think this is useful. At my newsletter, I’m trending towards something like 85% content that isn’t intended to sell anything and 15% content to sell. That means that I’m “training” the community I have the pleasure to serve that I’m not trying to capture them in a sales funnel (It’s a Trap! Thank you, Admiral Akbar.)
I also reply back as fast and as often as I can. This inbox is everyone’s super easy private access to me. It’s the coolest thing I do in every week, business wise. And why do I do it? Because it helps others, and it empowers others to succeed at the stuff they’re doing, and it keeps me top of mind in the “helpful” category. That seems fair to me. You?
Start Giving Inboxes Some Love
Have you noticed the theme here at [chrisbrogan.com]? That’s an almost-out-of-the-box version of the Generate WordPress Theme (affiliate link). It has increased my subscriptions to my newsletter a TON. Just a simple theme change.
Now, I’m doing something a bit differently. I’m also using a popup box to invite people to get the blog sent to the inbox. These are two completely different processes at present. I don’t mix my newsletter with my blog. This is a personal choice. VERY few people do it this way. I can’t vouch for it being better or worse. It’s just how I handle it. What I do know is that the content on the blog is very different than what’s in the newsletter, so I keep the audiences quite separate. My newsletter isn’t for everyone. The blog is a bit more business-focused.
So there. Get into it. I think you’ll find some value in devoting some time to writing really useful newsletters and earning permission into the sexiest social network in town: the inbox.
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