Small business email etiquette

Small business email etiquette

Recently, a member of the Absolutely Fabulous Business Women Facebook group asked me about email etiquette for her home based business.  She asked if she could send her newsletter to contacts in general, past colleagues and friends in addition to targeting former clients and prospects.

Email etiquette is such an overlooked subject and so many female entrepreneurs fail to understand the implications of getting it wrong.

If you have a list of people that you want to contact but are unsure about email etiquette, here are a few tips for getting it right.

Email etiquette tips

Firstly, I would never recommend sending a newsletter to anyone who has not subscribed. If you are using mailing software such as Mailchimp, this is strictly forbidden and if recipients report that they did not subscribe, you may get blacklisted.

It is also bad manners to automatically assume that someone wants to receive this newsletter and inviting yourself into their inbox without seeking permission first.  They may already have an overflowing inbox and your addition to this is likely to cause offence.  It’s like walking into their home without knocking and sitting down in front of them with no introduction and starting up a conversation.

Plain rude!  And likely to get you in to hot water legally ……..

Legal email requirements

Secondly, in the EU you need to be aware of legal restrictions in spending unsolicited email under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

This states:

Use of electronic mail for direct marketing purposes

22.—(1) This regulation applies to the transmission of unsolicited communications by means of electronic mail to individual subscribers.

(2) Except in the circumstances referred to in paragraph (3), a person shall neither transmit, nor instigate the transmission of, unsolicited communications for the purposes of direct marketing by means of electronic mail unless the recipient of the electronic mail has previously notified the sender that he consents for the time being to such communications being sent by, or at the instigation of, the sender.

(3) A person may send or instigate the sending of electronic mail for the purposes of direct marketing where—

(a)that person has obtained the contact details of the recipient of that electronic mail in the course of the sale or negotiations for the sale of a product or service to that recipient;

(b)the direct marketing is in respect of that person’s similar products and services only; and

(c)the recipient has been given a simple means of refusing (free of charge except for the costs of the transmission of the refusal) the use of his contact details for the purposes of such direct marketing, at the time that the details were initially collected, and, where he did not initially refuse the use of the details, at the time of each subsequent communication.

(4) A subscriber shall not permit his line to be used in contravention of paragraph (2).

If you have a database of contacts, I would suggest contacting these people individually to let them know about your business and inviting them to subscribe to your future newsletters.   They can then opt in out of choice keeping you in line with the law.

Also, if you have various types of contacts such as colleagues, friends, clients etc, they are unlikely to all be attracted to just one message. Friends would respond better if addressed in a different way to colleagues as would clients and prospects. It will take a little more work creating separate messages but should get you far better results.

The perils of using Facebook for your marketing

The perils of using Facebook for your marketing

Do you rely heavily on Facebook for your marketing?  If so ….

Are you aware of the perils of using Facebook?

On Monday the Facebook page for the world’s largest social media magazine, Social Media Examiner, page disappeared. Yep! Gone completely without warning! This page had over 380,000 followers and is an excellent source of information but for some unknown reason it went!

The owner, Michael Steizner, posted this message on his own Facebook page.

Social Media Examiner

And this message appeared on their Google+ page.

Social Media Examiner

What transpired from messages posted in response was this has happened to numerous followers ranging from pages with fans of just a few hundred, to one with over 3 million followers!!!

This proves that can happen to anyone at any level.  I personally know of a lady who sold handbags through her Facebook page and had just over 4000 followers.  Overnight her page disappeared and she lost contact with all these prospective customers.  She had to start from scratch again and in the meantime her business basically stopped.

So please don’t sit back and think it will never happen to you.  Hopefully it won’t but any business should put plans in place to protect yourself should it happen to you.

Remember, something like this can happen to anyone and any business and once your page is gone, it’s gone!! You are unlikely to ever get it back.

As a business you don’t own your fans or your page so if your page goes you lose contact with these people.

 

What can cause my Facebook page to disappear

There are a number of reasons why a Facebook page can disappear such as:

  • An administrator deleting or un-publishing the page. Make sure you know who has access to make changes to your page and remove anyone who should not have permission anymore.
  • A breach of Facebook guidelines. So many Facebook users are totally unaware of the guidelines.  One of the most common breaches I see are pages running competitions and asking for likes and shares in order to enter which is a direct breach.  If this gets spotted and reported you are in serious danger of your page being removed.
  • Using your personal profile as a business page. Again, this is a breach of Facebook guidelines.  If you haven’t already read it, have a read of the article Facebook Business Page vs Personal Page
  • Technical issues. It appears this may be the case with Social Media Examiner and their page has now been restored.  However, there is no guarantee that once your page has gone that it can be recovered.

 

The key lesson here is DO NOT put all your eggs in one basket. Do not purely rely on one social media platform for all your marketing. Always make sure you list build so that whatever happens outside of your control, you have a database of email addresses that allows you to retain contact with your prospects and fans.

 

What can I do to get my Facebook fans on to my mailing list?

Here are a few tips to help you get your Facebook fans on to your mailing list:

Have an opt-in form

Put an opt-in form on your website so that when you post your blog on your Facebook page and readers get taken to your site, they have the option to sign up.  Put one in the sidebar and at the top or bottom of your blog posts so that people can easily subscribe to get future news and information delivered directly to their inbox.

Offer an incentive

In order to make it more attractive for people to sign up, offer them a freebie to download when they sign up.  If you are in the holiday home industry this could be something such as ‘Top 10 things to look for when booking a holiday’ or ‘A guide to choosing colour for your home’ if you are an interior designer.

Post links to your opt-in form

Make sure you have a link to your opt-in form everywhere you can.  Use Facebook apps to add one to your business page and include the link at the bottom of your Facebook posts.

Ask for email addresses in groups

If you are in a group on Facebook and someone asks a question which you take the time to answer, ask them for their email address to send some further information.  Send them a little extra info and let them know you will add them to your mailing list (with the option to unsubscribe) for any future news.

Ask interactive fans for email address

When a person comments on one your posts you now have the option to send them a message (see pic below).  Use this to thank them for their comment and to invite them to join your mailing list (remember to send them the link).

Facebook message option

 

So now you know the perils of using Facebook and to how to protect yourself.

I hope you have found this article useful and please share the love and pass on to anyone else you know who has a Facebook business page.