How to Email Old Contacts in the New Year

At a recent email marketing workshop, several audience members asked me about old lists of customers or contacts they’ve gathered but have never emailed. Should they email them? Do they need to get permission again? All of these questions focus on the gray area of getting started building your email marketing list.

Have any of the contacts done business with you in the past year? Do you have record of when or what they purchased? If the answer is yes, I recommend creating a campaign announcing your newsletter and the value it will provide your recipient (see my Fool Proof Offers post). Then, begin your email by reminding them they made a purchase or met with you in the past. Acknowledge it’s been some time since you have been in contact, but would like to reconnect. If you have any level of detail regarding the type of purchase, use a merge field to include “product type” or date field in the copy. Proceed to explain the value of joining your new VIP Marketing list or your stellar offer of the day. If they don’t initially recognize you from the From Label, you’ve clearly protected yourself regarding how you got their email address and provided a simple way to opt-out of future emails.

For contacts that have not purchased from you in the past, but perhaps you met at industry events or gathered names from a previous role, the same idea applies. Tell them where you met them or how they provided you with their address.  WARNING: If you can’t remember where the contact came from, chances are they won’t either and you are risking ruining your email reputation.

You don’t have to be an email marketing beginner for these tactics, most companies collect business cards during busy months yet can’t find time to import them into their list manager or database immediately. Start this year off right:  add those email addresses you haven’t gotten around to entering, into your email marketing list with a Lead Source (meaning where you got permission).  Then send a re-introduction email with a can’t-miss offer. Going forward, track lead sources that are delivering the best referrals, business, or customer traction and continue to support those marketing programs for ongoing success!

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