Yes, an email list of customers and prospects is incredibly helpful to the growth of your business. It’s not as easy to build a list today as it was a few years ago, but if you provide valuable and interesting content to your subscribers, they will come…and stay.
What you should not do is sign up anyone you meet (or already know!) to your list. That’s called the “opt out” method of getting subscribers. People who want to be on your list should “opt in” — in other words, make the choice on their own to receive your publication.
Offering only an “opt out” option puts your subscribers in an awkward situation and isn’t the best for your reputation either. Consider what happened recently to Lisa Micklin, founder of EZezine and author of Start Your Ezine: The Complete Fluff-Free Guide for the New Publisher. Here’s Lisa’s story:
I just received two different bulk mailings from a colleague of five years who’s list I did not sign up for. They both had very clear opt-out instructions. So, I opted out as I am very particular about the lists that I want to be on. Sure as you-know-what, within minutes of opting out, I receive an email from the colleague, the list owner, apologizing for sending the two mailings and for bugging me. She took my opt-out personally. Which then led to me having to send her an email telling her it was nothing personal. Ack!
Moral of the story: Opt-out is not an effective way to build a list. Invite folks to opt-IN and you can avoid all kinds of messy situations like this one. And, don’t take it personally if they say “no” to your invitation.
Lisa’s story rings very true for me too. It annoys the heck out of me for people to use this tactic. And this particular situation put her in a corner she should have never had to be in. Why would anyone do that to valued colleagues and potential customers? This very same situation was happening to me so often, I removed my email address from my business cards. Every time I went to a function and exchanged cards, I’d end up on one email list or another because people thought I’d love their stuff. Not. Give me a choice. Let me choose. Invite me to be on your list and don’t be offended if I say no. It’s not personal, it’s business. That’s what you should offer your prospects too.
What do you think? Have you had a similar situation? Leave me a comment.