Can you honestly say that you feel the love emanating from your loyal subscribers? If the answer is ‘no’ and the feeling is more like that of licking a cactus, then you could assume that you aren’t engaging with your subscribers very well, if at all. As you know, engagement is one of the first things you need to establish and meticulously maintain if you want to reach the goals you have in mind. If the thought of this strikes fear in your heart and mind, fear not! Engaging with subscribers has become infinitely easier over the past few years and today there are scores of different online platforms you can choose to connect with your valuable customers on.
To get you going, we’ve summed up some of the best questions you can ask yourself to help you identify whether or not you’re engaging with your subscribers in the most appropriate way.
1. Are you giving them with high quality content?
Consistently conceptualizing and delivering quality content that gets you top results every time is by no means easy. What worked yesterday might not work today, and to be honest, sometimes you just have a mental block that you can’t get through. In times like these, you need to have content to fall back on and you need to have it on hand immediately. Many people resort to old school methods like keeping a notepad and pen in their bag, so they can jot down ideas as and when they come up, but as long as you’re writing down content ideas somewhere then it doesn’t really matter how you do it. Off the top of my head, topics such as event listings; lists; trivia, history and interesting facts; Q&A’s; trends and predictions; comparisons; polls and surveys; product reviews; guest contributions and links to interesting industry articles or other blogs are just the tip of the iceberg and they’re all ideas that are essentially ageless.
2. Are you offering them choices through a preference centre?
A preference centre is hugely beneficial and necessary if you offer more than one type of newsletter. It serves a dual purpose in that it lets your subscribers decide which newsletters they’d like to receive and how often, and it also gives them the opportunity to update their profile and add personal information (such as likes, dislikes, job sector etc.) when they’re ready to. This of course is all incredibly helpful data that you can then use to target them more effectively. Just make sure that you let your subscribers know their information is top secret and that you aren’t going to sell or rent it. One of the best ways that you can get people to your email preference centre is by telling them about it in your welcome email when they first sign up. Give them the direct link and let them know what it’s about and remind them they can access and edit it whenever they like.
3. Are you sticking to your word?
Saying one thing and then proceeding to do another is simply unacceptable. Harsh as it may seem, I doubt you’d find one reputable ESP who’d disregard this statement. Email marketing is developed around online relationships and as in real life, if someone doesn’t trust you you’re going to have a hard time convincing them to give you what you want. You need to ensure that if you promise your subscribers something, you’re able to deliver on it, and you need to establish this before you start advertising the fact. This goes for everything from the frequency of the emails you send, to special products/services you’re advertising for today only.
4. Are you interacting with them on their preferred social platforms?
A well set up email preference centre comes in handy here too, as you can also include a field that allows them to choose which social media networks they prefer and which one they’d prefer you to contact them on. They might have a Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn account but would prefer you to connect with them only via Twitter for example. Having this type of information can also help you to further segment your audience and it really offers you the opportunity to connect with them on their level, so use it to your advantage. If you’re not yet confident enough to interact, then you can at least start by listening to what your subscribers are posting or tweeting on their profile. What are they waxing lyrical about, what are they dissing and dismissing, what’s trending amongst their peers? Because the topics are focused on what’s happening now and what they’re interested in, this information can be used to help you create and deliver more relevant content. Also make a point of following highly ranked forums and look out for questions that are being asked that you can answer or contribute to. It’s a good way to get yourself known online as an expert in your field and you’ll soon find that people start interacting with you and bringing you into the thick of things.
5. Are you asking them to share with you?
This can be done as a once off survey, or you could choose to include a link on each newsletter that takes them to an online comments field on your website. You can ask your subscribers to share photos, stories, ideas for newsletters, topics they’re interested in finding or reading more about, issues they’d like addressed, any questions they might have, and prizes they’d like to see up for grabs, all of which can be posted on your website. By giving them this platform to speak their minds as it were, they are also helping you with content ideas. You can also take their input one step further and include comments that people have made, or questions that are frequently asked (with your expert answers) in your newsletters. This way, everyone wins.
Finally, but perhaps most importantly, be real, you’re only human after all. There’ll be a time to be serious and a time to laugh and make light of situations. Engaging online, especially across social networks, isn’t about blatant self-promotion and sales pitches, it’s about finding out what your customers want and doing it in the least obtrusive way possible, and then actually doing something about it.