Annoying Email SubscribersI once heard someone say, “In marketing, your list is pure gold.” I disagree.

I’m not disagreeing with the value of lists, far from it.

I would simply reword it a bit, “In marketing, your list is your goldmine.” There, that’s better.

Your list has the potential for gold, but nothing is given. Mine too hard and your potential gold turns to unrecoverable dust. Mine too carefully and you’ll never realize the riches hiding beneath the surface. Knowing how to carefully extract profits without blowing the whole thing to smithereens is the key to turning your list into pure gold.

We all know the basic rule of list marketing: Content should be focused on your readers, not yourself. The quickest way to annoy your list is to make every message all about you. They don’t care. They want to know what’s in it for them.

Now that we’re focused entirely on our readers, here are three top tips for profiting from that list of yours. And because it’s damn-near impossible to sell to someone you’ve annoyed, each tip includes an “annoying watch” to help you avoid the pitfalls of annoying people everywhere.

Tip: Mix in a healthy dose of free stuff

Give your readers relevant, useful content without pushing for a sale and they’ll actually look forward to your messages, resulting in increased open rates and trust. Then, when you decide to craft your sales messages, you’ll be doing so to a bigger, more receptive audience. Keeping your readers abreast on industry trends and opportunities is a great way to build trust. Another is giving free advice in the form of a weekly or monthly newsletter, with the added benefit of staying in touch on a regular basis. For example, a financial advisor could start a weekly newsletter titled, “My Undervalued Stock of the Week.”

Annoying Watch:

The key words here are “relevant” and “useful”. Don’t send out free content for the sake of sending something. Make sure there’s value for the reader. Even if you’re not trying to sell anything, your readers will begin to view your messages as spam if they don’t receive any value from them. And leave the funny forwards, links and videos alone. Your readers expect those from friends and family, not from you.

Tip: Get to know your readers

The more information you know about your individual readers, the easier it becomes to sell to them. Knowing your readers also allows you to avoid sending irrelevant content. A realtor who separates the luxury, investment and first-time homebuyer segments of her list can target messages much better than the realtor who does not. Occasionally send out surveys, keep track of which types of messages readers open and take qualitative feedback seriously.

Annoying Watch:

Don’t get too pushy with surveys or send them too frequently. When you do, make sure readers know you intend to use the information to better serve them, not you. To increase response, keep them short, only asking for the most relevant information. If you’re seeking to get in-depth information, offer an incentive. People who’ve built their list based on subscribers know that asking too much information will prevent people from subscribing in the first place. The same goes for surveys.

Tip: Test for the best, don’t spray and pray

Not every attempt to sell is going to work. In fact, a lot of them are big, fat failures. So why fail on your entire list when you can fail on a small portion of it? Trying to resell the same product or service only gets tougher after a failed attempt. Start with a smaller sample size, experiment with targeted messaging based on reader information and use A/B split testing to improve results. Never assume you’ve got the perfect sales message and blast your entire list.

Annoying Watch:

Don’t go mad scientist and make testing harder than it needs to be. Doing so will drain resources. Also, don’t get creepy when tailoring messages based on your knowledge of the reader. People understandably become standoffish when they feel companies know too much about them, especially companies they’ve never done business with.

In conclusion, use common sense. Make it clear you have your readers’ best interests in mind with every message you send and they’ll reward you.

Happy mining! 

About the Author: Lucy James is a freelance writer specialising in internet marketing topics such as email marketing, social media and PPC management. She also currently represents Net Effekt, a white label email marketing solutions provider based in the UK.