For one of my new projects, I had to sign up for GetResponse, an email marketing service. Since I had to get a subscription anyway, I wondered if there was a way I could use the app to improve my freelance practice. Email newsletters are often used for product promotion, so why not use it to market my services?
While it might seem to be too late for me to hop on the email marketing bandwagon, I see very few options that offer the same effectiveness for reaching my customers, particularly with my client base. Many of my clients aren’t tech savvy, which means they don’t have social-networking accounts, so I can’t contact them using Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Also, I doubt that many of them return to my web site after we’ve started working together.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of my email marketing campaign, I had to plan what kind of messages I would send to my customers. Here’s what I came up with:
Provide general business information to clients. Educating our clients is always a good thing. It’s not enough to just give them our work output — I have to teach them how to use it well. But this often burdens me with hours of repetitive tech support. With the use of email marketing services, I can keep clients updated with the latest industry trends, as well as what they can do to adapt.
Promote new work. An email list can also be a good venue to tell others about the current work you’re doing. Did you just publish a new book? Are you launching another web app? It’s a good way to promote your new projects and show your clients how much you’re growing professionally. After all, the more skills you learn and the more experience you gain, the better you’ll be able to help their business.
Share feedback. If a client writes to you and tells you that your work increased their sales by 150 percent, wouldn’t you be proud of it? Just make sure that you have a client’s consent before featuring their comments on your newsletter.
You don’t have to share purely positive feedback, either. You can mention client complaints, but include the steps you took to fix the problem, and what your client had to say after. This brings some honesty into your testimonials, and should make them stand out from the usual testimonials that skeptical clients tend to gloss over.
Hand out exclusive offers. You can also use your mailing list to send out exclusive offers that will alert inactive clients to any new services or products you are offering. In my experience, it’s more effective to contact people who already know you and have worked with you before. They’ll always be more comfortable about rehiring you, compared with new prospects who have never heard of you.
During my first year as a freelancer, I ran into a “dry spell” for a couple of months. I had no new leads, and my current clients didn’t seem to need any work from me. While I didn’t subscribe to an email marketing service, I used my email contact list and sent out a message offering some of my services for a small discounted fee if they sent me successful referrals. I received several new, referred clients, and, thanks to the discount, several existing clients were encouraged to rehire me for future projects.
Learn the interest level of your customers. While some of the tips above could be done just by sending emails with your regular email client, tracking your clients’ interest level is something you can only do with an email marketing service. You can check who opens your messages, clicks the links embedded in your emails (and which links they click on), or buys something through your site.
Like any other communication tool, mailing lists shouldn’t be abused or you risk losing your audience. As long as you’re providing value to your subscribers, your messages will always be welcome in their inboxes.
Do you use email newsletters or email marketing software to keep in touch with clients? If so, how has it affected your business?