The best tools to get results from mailings
I often recommend direct mail as one of the most effective, lowest cost marketing methods to build your business. It's a simple thing to do: send out carefully written mailings to people who have opted in to receive your updates. if you do it by email, it's incredibly cheap, practically free.
Once your list grows larger than about 50 people, it becomes necessary to use a mailing service provider such as Mailchimp or Mailerlite. If you just send out bulk mailings using your usual email system, internet service providers may reject your mailings.
There are some other advantages to sending out mailings using a system such as Mailchimp or Mailerlite.
It's much easier to keep your list 'clean' - people have the confidence of knowing they can easily unsubscribe. You'll be able to see who has opened your mailing and who has clicked on a link, and who never opens them. If someone on your list never opens your emails, there's no point having them on your list as it could affect the deliverability of the whole list.
Another advantage is that mailing service providers enable you to segment your list or create groups such as "people who have stayed before", "people who have enquired and not yet booked" or "interested in bird-watching", and "needs family friendly facilities" so you can adapt your mailings slightly to write more targeted mailings. Mailing service providers make this much easier to do.
You can also use what's known as "A/B testing" to make your mailings stronger. This is straight forward to do: for example you might write one subject line and send out to 10% of your mailing list and a different subject line to another 10% of the list. The idea is to test the responses to these different subject lines and then send the most popular to the rest of your mailing list so you can increase response rates. It's quick and simple to set this up.
Sometimes it makes sense to use other features such as reminder mailings, where you set up a second email to go to the people who don't open the first one.
There are plenty of different mailing service providers you can choose to use. Most of them let you set up on free plans and you only pay once your mailing list has grown quite significantly.
I used to recommend Mailchimp but they don't seem to be as good as they used to be and they can get a little pricier as your list grows. I now recommend Mailerlite as they are cheaper, their deliverability rates are very high, and their customer service is excellent. They have lots of short videos that explain how to use different features, and because they are based in Europe it's easier to get a timely response to questions if you use their chat box for support.
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