Chances are very good you will rely heavily upon email communications in your new solo business if you use the Internet to conduct your operations.
And contrary to what some folks will tell you, there is no excuse for not understanding what email type you should employ.
Email contact without prior permission, in most instances, is considered SPAM by the majority of today’s email experts.
It’s SPAM (unsolicited and usually unwanted contact) because you are invading someone’s personal space and right to privacy.
SPAM causes unnecessary bandwidth usage that the receivers of the message don’t agree to pay.
In addition, SPAM clogs inboxes and wastes the time of the recipient if he/she doesn’t want to see your message.
Opt-in email is legitimate. It means that you have specifically requested to receive a communication from the sender.
You know it’s coming and you are expecting it.
It’s permission based if you agree to receive it and have specifically given your email address to the sender.
No one really knows what percentage of emails flying over the Internet are legitimate.
Some have estimated that SPAM currently makes up 85% of all email.
I wouldn’t be surprised at that number.
In my own inbox every day I receive many many more un-asked for messages than legitimate ones.
Here are some suggestions about how to accomplish legitimate emailing:
1. Only use opt-in email addresses in your business.
There is also “confirmed” or double opt-in which is even safer.
Double opt-in requires that the receiver not only solicits your communications, but also confirms in a separate email that he indeed has made that choice.
2. Don’t harvest email addresses from web sites, lists, or others’ businesses.
3. Don’t employ email lists unless the company renting the list can show you that the folks on the list opted-in to receive your message (or a message from someone in your niche).
If you do use lists of this sort, you will undoubtedly get some claims of SPAM from folks who didn’t specifically ask to hear from your company.
4. Always give the recipient a way out.
Include instructions for unsubscribing to your list in every email you send.
You’re more likely to keep your customers if they’re comfortable that they know they can opt out of your list at any time in the future.
5. Allow your customers (or list members) to set their own preferences.
Give them a way to review their own personal information and settings.
This may take some software or an email program that you don’t currently have, but the effort will be well worth the extra time to set up such a system.
6. Don’t rent or sell your list to anyone.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t do a mailing for someone else. But you must maintain control and access to your list at all times.
If you do a joint venture, you will do the mailing on behalf of your partner and that usually means it carries your endorsement.
Protect your list members at all costs. Many seasoned online business owners will tell you that their subscriber list is the most valuable asset of their business.
Once you give out subscriber information, you have no way of controlling or monitoring how it is used or how many more times it will be passed around.
7. Tell your customers exactly how you intend to use their personal information and email address.
Even if they never read your statement, your customers will feel more comfortable giving you their details if they see you care for their privacy and confidentiality.
8. Always send your emails using a common and consistent name for your business.
You might have a newsletter, sales notifications, product brochures, confirmation messages, etc, and a lot of other communications.
If you use a consistent “from” name, your customers will soon begin to recognize your emails sitting in their inbox and they will know it’s not SPAM.
9. If a customer or prospect opts out of your list, confirm that request and immediately delete their name.
If you don’t do this, they have grounds for complaints and action that could harm your business.
10. Always answer your emails as soon as possible.
Don’t let days or weeks worth of email stack up till you have time to get to it.
Legitimate email is current and based upon customer preferences.
The longer you wait to give an answer or fill a request, the more likely your email will be seen as SPAM.
Do your part to cut down on the amount of unsolicited email being delivered these days.
Your business will not have a more visible or noticeable task than to properly handle communications in a courteous and timely manner.
To your online business success,