Monday, September 07, 2020

Why email subscriptions make sense

In an era when the social media giants sometimes makes it MORE difficult to hear from people you want to read, email subscriptions provide a lot of value in terms of connecting to those artists and sites that you like.

I guess like many other people I'm finding it a LOT more difficult to connect with people on Facebook:
  • I know people are posting on Pages that my Making A Mark Facebook Page has liked and yet I don't have a clue when that has happened or what it's about! I'm very miffed!!
  • if you don't post very often - you're even less likely to connect with others.
  • if your followers don't connect with you - by leaving a like or a comment - it's even less likely that they'll hear again from you in future.
In addition, I really don't have the time to read through all my different feeds on Instagram and Twitter (I do have lists set up) - so picking up news about what people are up to can be a bit haphazard.

However I do add feeds from blogs to my Blogger Reading List - which is great for picking up all recent posts. (Read Manage blogs you follow - to read more about how it works)

What I do like however are the emails to blogs or websites which have proved their worth in the past in terms of content and news.

Be smart and astute when signalling emails

Those who are astute enough to precisely signal what the content of their email about get my vote. 
Being "astute" means generating:
  • a really good headline which clearly signals the topic of the email (or blog post)
  • an "on point" first sentence and certainly first 200 characters
  • focusing on one topic per post
Here's a couple of examples

The first is today's post on my Botanical Art and Artists - News Blog

Blogger allows 200 characters for a shortened feed
Using a shortened feed means your blog posts can't be used unscrupulously
by scammers - as content on blogs trying to make money

The second is what my last Making A Mark blog post looked like in my list of emails - note how critical blog post headlines are to the likelihood of being opened.


Really good headlines enable me to sift and sort those emails I want to open and those I'll pass on this time. Those who are "astute" - and think about their headlines - are more likely to get read.

I don't mind getting lots of emails from some people - because of the interest and value of content when I do - even if I don't always want to read everyone.

Why email marketing makes sense


Email marketing has consistently proven to be effective at connecting those who want to promote themselves or their product/service with those who want to hear about it

Any other sort of marketing is essentially has a scattergun effect. You pump it out and hope it gets seen by the right people.

With a subscriber list, people have expressed an interest in reading more about what you write. Although sometimes they don't understand the breadth of your blog and think all blog posts will be more of the same in relation to the one that triggered their interest

If you weed your subscribers periodically, (i.e. by deleting all those who have never verified) you know you are sending messages to those who WANT to hear what you have to say - and how many of them there are.

I go through Feedburner (which is an RSS feed service not a full fledged email service) and delete all those who have subscribed but failed to verify their email address i.e. the "passing fancy crowd". That way I can keep track of the real number of actual subscribers.

Set up an email subscription service


If you've not got an email subscription service set up on your art website or blog can I suggest you give this some serious thought.

The main reason I don't use one is:
  • my current solution works - and has done regularly and reliably for the last 15 years
  • my current solution costs me ABSOLUTELY NOTHING 
  • I've got too many subscribers
  • I write too often
  • the next alternative would represent a considerable sum of money per annum!
I use Google Feedburner which is a FREE service for anybody with a Google account. It 
  • routes the the short feed from my blog via an email 
  • alerts people to a new blog post and 
  • works automatically - sending out an email to all those who have subscribed. 
It doesn't cost me a penny even though I've got lots and lots of subscribers. 

It also works with non-(Google) Blogger blogs i.e. I use it for my other blogs which are on Weebly websites.

If you want to do more than burn a feed from a blog, you need to look at alternative services.

Email subscription alternatives

I actually look to see who uses what when I receive my emails from a subscription service!

The main alternatives that I see include:
  • Mailchimp - it's been around forever and is very popular and used by lots of friends of mine - and the Mall Galleries for its Friends Subscriptions
  • AWeber - completely free if you have less than 500 subscribers
  • Constant Contact - used by Duane Keiser for "a painting a day". It covers all media marketing and looks very professional to me. It's more often used by those with big subscription lists.

Constant Contact, Inc. licenses a permission-based e-marketing software platform to individuals and organizations. We act as a service provider to these customers, most of whom are small businesses and non-profits. Our product helps our customers design email newsletters, share them on social networks, manage lists of contacts and marketing preferences, and track email campaign results. We do not have a contractual relationship with recipients of the messages our customers send with the Constant Contact software.

There are lots more and it's best to take a look at some of the round ups and reviews of alternative options to create a shortlist of the ones you might want to take a look at without it costing you an arm and a leg. (Remember that some of these are used by very large companies and are rather more than you need). 

MUST DOS AND MUST AVOID

The one absolutely ESSENTIAL feature of any email marketing service you use is that it must have an opt-in facility to allow personal data to be collected. Those who play fast and loose with personal data are NOT companies you want to be doing business with - because there are big fines now for breaching privacy laws in Europe and California.

Interestingly those who try to do it on their own invariably breach legislation and regulation relating to email marketing and distance selling. I could name names but I won't - but some of them are organisations you would think ought to know better!

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