A lesson on using your email list

Last summer, after sending out a 2nd (not a 3rd) reminder after the original announcement that my sale ended on Sunday, I got this email:

You're overstepping your marketing, Alyson. One notice was more than enough. Two is pushing it, and three is becoming annoying. I know you've got a sale. Stop now.

Did it upset me? Only slightly. And then I realized a few things:

  1. This person had been a subscriber for a year–by her own choice. She had received free weekly newsletters from me and may have even listened to my 100% free podcast on my 100% free blog were she can find 100% free information. She has never purchased anything from me nor had she ever thanked me for the free stuff she received. She was not my target audience.
  2. This person could have hit Delete or unsubscribed on her own.
  3. My reminders are a relatively new thing–in response to some people telling me that they wish they had been paying closer attention because they missed the one or two times it was in the newsletter.
  4. I got a Thank You at the same time I got the above email. Someone was writing me to thank me for the reminder because they had gotten busy and forgotten to place their order.
  5. My reminders generate a lot (a lot!) of sales for me. I sent out one on a Tuesday and within 24 hours I had 24 new orders. The  notice that generated the comment above also generated 10 new sales within two hours. Hmmmm. Let's see. Should I let an email from someone whom I've never heard from before bother me? Or should I bask in the thought that I'm sending all of these audio products to artists who can really benefit from them?
  6. I would be a poor example to my subscribers and students if I didn't promote my sale as best I could.
  7. This is the best part: I have raving fans! You should see my "Loved" file. It is just so heartwarming. People are so nice and so generous to me. They even invite me to stay at their homes! I would be dishonoring them if I spent energy on those I'm not meant to work with. I need the energy for those who can benefit from what I have to share.

Your take away: Use your mailing list more. Yes, some people may unsubscribe, but others realize you're in business. As long as you continue to deliver valuable information to your list, your subscribers will remain on the list. Your loyal fans will just hit Delete, as they should, when they know something doesn't apply to them.

So, what did I do? I removed her from my list. She asked me to Stop Now. And since I knew I wasn't going to stop, the only way I could stop sending to her was to remove her name. I don't want my emails reaching anyone who doesn't want them.

Yes, I'll continue to send out reminders when things are time sensitive. Fair warning. If you're not interested, just hit Delete.

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19 comments to A lesson on using your email list

  • Oh my Gosh!. The responder to your sales announcements is just jealous. I just want to thank you for all of the valuable announcements and advice given on your site. I am a fan. I just purchased your book and it was certainly, due to your web presence through of consistant promotion of your product. I want to be able to create that kind of connection with my site visitors. I believe in a consistant approach in getting the word out!. Keep up the good work and hit the delete button on that guy!

  • Such good advice about deleating the “neggies” and focusing on the positive. I’ve been busy working on a organizing my email lists and making sure my marketing materials are consistent, and can’t wait for what’s next. Thanks, Alyson!

  • Bravo! It’s important to listen to your critics, assess their point, take what you feel you need and move on! (Plus, you’re such a good role model about surrounding yourself with the right things and purging the tumors!) Although I’m not a fan of many reminders, you always have the content in the subject heading so I can easily see if I need to open the reminder or just as easily delete. Thanks!

  • Amazing, isn’t it, how much one sharp comment can affect us. At the same time, being a retired Scuba instructor, it’s also amazed me how much a small compliment, sincerely given, for a thing well done, can affect someone who is sincerely trying to learn something new. Gushing is a different creture. Keep up the great work, Alyson, you’re even more appreciated than you know.

  • Well Alyson, If I thought you were really good before this incident (which I did), I am even more impressed with what you do and HOW you do it. It is no small thing to take something negative and turn it into something useful. It follows a principle of mine which is to always put out a counter-effort to someone’s effort to smack you. Now some would think this means hitting back on the same level. But that is NOT what it means. It means to do exactly what you did which is to show your class and ablility to take what was intended to cut you down and stand on it to make you taller (as it were)! You are now even taller than before! Thank you for all you do and the class with which you do it. That is why you have so many customers who have become friends in so many places. Lynne

  • Oh, you all are so good to me. I’m so grateful by your presence–albeit virtual–in my life. And I’m honored that you read this blog.

  • Good for you! I think reminders are useful specially when everybody is so busy and distracted. I loved you posted this article and I hope she reads it somehow and realizing how much she is missing. Thank you

  • Sikiu: I didn’t do this to embarrass anyone or make them feel badly. I don’t think she’s a fan of mine nor do I think she would ever be interested in my services or products again. I wasn’t ever able to make my case to her and that makes me sad. I posted this here to encourage artists not to worry about “bugging people with emails,” which is a common concern I hear. It’s important to remember that you write for your fans, not for those who will never be.

  • Great post Alyson! I send out emails to my “artist” list every few months but we send out emails to our list for our frame company much more often. And we always send reminders when we are having a sale. You’re right-you get a few unsubscribes but you also get orders and artists calling for frames who forgot that the sale ends on a certain day! I definitely need to use my personal list more often though.

  • I love your attitude, and all your help… I have your book, found it on amazon before I found your blog. And as my kids know constant reminders work! Thanks

  • Deborah and Patricia: Thank you for the votes of confidence.

  • This is my first time in a long while checking in with you I have your blog on my blog roll at my other blog, http://www.deezynes.blogspot.com I will definately be back, just because of the particular post… It let’s me know you cover all aspects of business, the good, bad and the UGLY. I am reposting this on my network I founded called (Noting that you are the writer with a link to this blog) :Indie Creative Company at http://www.creativecompany.ning.com- you are welcome to visit our network of business women in different business industries

  • Hi Alyson–I have taken one of your online classes and was one of the first people to sign up to buy your book. I read your blog every week and have promoted you on my own blog. I love your attitude and what you have to say. And, I have removed myself from your newsletter list and the contact list because it was all getting to be too much for me. It’s not you per se, so please don’t take it personally; it’s the whole marketing thing that is going on everywhere online. Yours was not the only newsletter and contact list I removed myself from. Like some of the others, though, it seemed like most of the information I was receiving was about signing up for something or buying something. I am feeling bombarded with information and newsletters and sales pitches. And I am an artist selling online so I get it. I understand that repetition brings business and that one has to stay out in the open to be seen and remembered. I don’t have an answer. Just saying, I understand the frustration of someone feeling bombarded with info. I still love your blog and check in often and will continue to do so.

  • Alyson, I have to agree with the previous poster, Mary. I’ve taken one of your classes and get your newsletter, and have for a couple years now. I appreciate your positive attitude and believe that you have a lot of pertinent, useful information for artists, a lot of which I use. But there IS a lot of information out there and you don’t know what others’ in box is like. My personal feeling is that removing the reader from your subscribe list because of her feedback and because she’d not bought anything from you was rather harsh. I agree that it’s up to each of us as artists to decide what we do with feedback, positive and negative, and that we have to look at the whole picture before we take the negative too much to heart. You decided to discount what the reader had to say since you received tons more positive feedback about your reminders. And that is only fair. But I also feel you misjudged at the same time since you don’t know how many other people out there felt as this particular reader did but didn’t have the guts to voice their dissatisfaction. I hope you will not remove me from your list for adding my voice to hers in saying that I felt your second reminder to be a bit much. Obviously, it didn’t bother me enough to voice my opinion at the time, but since you’ve brought this issue forward I think it’s something worth sharing. Best regards. Please keep up the good work. Stefanie Graves

  • Alyson — I think your marketing is top notch and not intrusive. I’m only sorry I don’t have time to read more of what you so generously offer. Your approach to the complainer seems healthy and, again, generous — keep up the good work. p.s. the book is great and has helped me numerous times already!

  • I know Alyson is in business, and want to help support that, and so I have made purchases from time to time since subscribing to the newsletter– so she won’t go away! What Alyson does is really valuable. I need the email reminders. Anyone who has time to blast back to an email reminder with *you are overstepping your marketing* and not even add IMO, probably isn’t do her ow work well. And who is she? Any kind of expert?
    It amazes me that I have made online purchases from smaller companies, then never hear from them again. I end up forgetting their name (I have a lot on my mind) and buy somewhere else next time. (Hey, if they don’t value my business…). Alyson is a good example of *practice what you preach*…and great that she removed the complainer from her newsletter. Who may come back, BTW…

  • Stefanie: Thanks for your input. I’m almost a year late in responding! The only reason I discounted this person is that she was mean. If you want to provide helpful feedback to someone, do it in a kind way: “I really appreciate your weekly emails and free tips, but I’m wondering if there is any way to be removed from your reminders list.” That would have been fantastic! I can deal with that. And of course I won’t remove you from the list. You can always remove yourself and just come to the blog–like Mary. Your comment is very much appreciated. It was issued with kindness and thoughtfulness. Thanks for that.

    Marie: Thank you for your nice note.

  • I am so busy that it isn’t always possible to go on your site to check on all the wonderful information you provide. For that reason, I like receiving your notices.

  • Thanks, Graciela. I appreciate your kindness.