When I tell small business owners they need to regularly communicate with their customers, their immediate reaction is either to say,
“I don’t want to annoy people,” or
“I just delete the emails I get sent, if I send them my customers will just delete them because that’s what I do. It’s a waste of time.”
Let’s look at both of these reactions and see if there’s anything to them.
First, we worry that we’re going to annoy people. The problem with this thinking is that we forget that the customer CHOSE to get communication with us. They signed up for our newsletter, entered into a draw, signed up to get text alerts, liked our social media pages. They made a choice to interact with us because they WANT to hear from us. This also means they are expecting to hear from us at some point. If they chose to sign up to hear from us and then nothing happened, we’ve actually not held up our part of the deal. Actually, we’re losing a bit of trust with them too. If they signed up to be kept in the loop and then we don’t do that, what happens if they want to place an order with us? Will we disappear on them then too? We know they want to be involved with our businesses, so communicating with them isn’t annoying – it’s an expected part of the relationship. Can you become annoying? Sure, if you’re going to email them several times a day, with increasingly irritating and demanding messages or emails. Reality is that I don’t know any small business owners who have the time or patience to send that many emails (and if they do, oh honey, we’ve got to talk!). Looking at social media, can you become annoying there? You know that algorithm we all love to complain about? That algorithm essentially guarantees that nobody is seeing EVERY post you put out there anyway, so if you’re posting once a day and hoping for traction, it’s not going to happen. If you’re posting a couple of times a day, chances are your die-hard fans won’t see each one of those either. In the digital age, it’s almost HARD to be annoying because we are BOMBARDED with this stuff all day, every day … meaning the majority does not get through to our people anyway. Not everyone will see everything you do, so if you are worrying about being annoying, you’re going to have to put a fair amount of effort into that.
Let’s also remember this: these people who wanted to hear from us are capable of un-liking, unsubscribing and unfollowing if they decide we are no longer of interest to them. So if we DO annoy them, they can choose to opt out of communication. If they choose to do that, we don’t then beat ourselves up over how unlovable and annoying we are, we simply wish them well and take the time and effort to keep talking to those who are still interested. What we do is also seasonal, so a bride might like and follow us while she’s looking for her ultimate cake maker… but if the groom runs for it or the Nana decides to bake, she might unfollow us and it has nothing to do with us at all. Don’t take those unfollows and unsubscribes personally. It’s not all about you.
Looking at the second one – “I always delete emails anyway, nobody reads those,” – let me point you to this article – which tells us, in no uncertain terms, that email marketing STILL WORKS in 2018 and is in fact growing. My reasons for persisting with it are many, but here are my main ones. First, it’s owned by ME. That list of customers and potential customers will not disappear if one of the social media sites chooses to boot me off, close my account or cease to exist. That information has direct VALUE into my business because I can personally get in touch with each of those people, without the help of a third-party or having to deal with pesky algorithms. Second, even if people delete the email, before doing so they will at least glance at who sent it and what the subject of the email is. That second of their time still serves as a mental reminder to them that my business exists. So sure, maybe right now they don’t need a product from me so they don’t read my email. Suppose they then go to work and a workmate mentions they are looking for a birthday cake – and ping! – they are reminded that only a few hours ago they deleted an email from a cake company, and they pass on the company’s name. Often just seeing your business name in that list of emails is enough to bring you forward in their consciousness. Lastly, while they might delete your emails … they are still on that list. If they didn’t want to hear from you at least sometimes, they would unsubscribe – and I already told you, that’s not something to take personally.
Communication is VITAL to business success and it’s what all marketing is based around. Essentially, we have to remind people (and remind them, and remind them, and REMIND THEM) that we exist – so that at the moment they need us, they remember us. If you are going to sit in silence out of fear of being annoying or being deleted, then it’s as though you’re sitting in a bakery with the lights turned off and the ovens cold, which isn’t helping you OR your customers.