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Email marketing: When less is more

Posted by: John Tozzi on August 27, 2008

Here’s an idea about email marketing: your customers should want to hear from you more often then they do.

They should be so excited when they see your message that it’s the first thing they click on in their inbox.

For most companies, it’s hard to achieve that if you send a daily or weekly newsletter -– especially if you send them regardless of whether you have real news. I get a bunch of newsletters from companies or groups I’ve signed up to hear from. I normally glance at them –- unless I’m busy, unless there are more than five or six piled up, unless I have email from friends to read and respond to.

But if I’ve signed up to hear from a group, and I don’t hear from them often, I tend to look at the message they do send.

I know this is a complicated problem that gets more complicated the bigger your organization is. But for a small company, what would happen if you didn’t set up a regular newsletter? Instead, if your company has news that customers might actually want to hear (not just something you want them to hear) the CEO writes a brief note and sends it to the list.

The temptation is to send more, not less. But can you do something with seven emails a year that you can’t do with 52 or 250?

The numbers don’t matter as much as the idea: your customers should want to hear from you more often then they do.

I found a good starting point for thinking about this on this post from Seth Godin, who cites the example of a Daily Candy reader: “He was upset because for three days in a row, his Daily Candy newsletter hadn't come. That's permission.”

If you send something out every day, and a few days of silence makes your customers take notice, that’s probably a pretty good business. Helps explain why Daily Candy, with 55 employees, was sold to Comcast earlier this month for $125 million.

If you skipped your next three emails to customers, how many do you think would notice?

Reader Comments

mervyn menids

November 18, 2008 02:12 PM

Being a small buisness owner in Canada importing pure Ceylon teas and herbal and wellness teas and yoga teas too i am constantly looking at ways to sell the products world over, but being a neighbour, emphasis on the States. I just launched a website where we would donate a certain percentage of sales to the world wild life fund to protect the rhino. By the way we have also supplied our tea to the Obama campaign in july2008. We are on the lookout for a distributor in the States. Any suggestions? Thank You Mervyn

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What's it like to run your own company today? Entrepreneurs face multiple hurdles new and old, from raising capital and managing employees to keeping up with technology and competing in a global marketplace. In this blog, the Small Business channel's John Tozzi and Nick Leiber discuss the news, trends, and ideas that matter to small business owners. Follow them on Twitter @newentrepreneur.

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