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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why Email Marketing Works Better Than Facebook and Twitter

Social media marketing on Facebook and Twitter is all the rage. Camp directors are knocking themselves out trying to figure out how to capture the incredible marketing potential of this new phenomenon, but if you're looking for the absolute best way for your personality to come alive between your computer and your prospects, email marketing is where it's at.

That’s because email marketing takes place on a more personal level than “typical” social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkIn.

Does this scenario sound familiar?:

  • You post a status to your Facebook page hoping someone responds
  • One or two people might click the “Like” button 
  • One or two more may say something back in response to your post
  • Now you’re excited, so you write back, hoping to keep the conversation going
  • No dice though -- the connection ends there
  • You repeat the process all over again hoping for better results, but it always ends the same way

No question, websites like Facebook and Twitter have huge marketing potential for your camp. But email marketing’s better for one-on-one, responsive marketing with your prospects, especially in terms of making an initial connection.

If there’s any doubt, consider how many times you’ve exchanged emails back and forth with a single person in just a short period of time. Only yesterday I talked with a dad via email who was confused about how to pick a camp. We emailed back and forth 11 times within 15 minutes. And with each additional email, you could tell he felt so much better about sending his kid to camp.

Now THAT’S how you connect with customers and prospects!

By now you know what I’m gonna say next: If your camp's marketing plan doesn’t include capturing email addresses from prospects, you’re missing the boat. 

But wait a minute. I don’t know anyone who's begging to get more email and I’ll bet you don’t either. So how do you get people to willingly hand over their email addresses? Here’s how.

First, you make it blatantly clear you won’t spam them, ever. Then you assure them they can remove themselves (opt-out) from receiving your emails anytime they want.

Now you’ve got them where you want them -- they're a little more receptive and less defensive.

But for some people, this still won't be enough. So what do you do? You bribe them.

Yep, bribe.

I’m not talking about holding a gun to their head. I’m talking about making people an offer they can’t refuse. Let me explain.

When people see that little box on your website asking them to join your email list, some of them will join out of general interest or simply because they’ve got nothing else to do (seriously).

But if you go one one step further and offer them something in exchange for their email addresses - a bribe - your subscriber list will grow like gangbusters.

What can you offer people?  What can you bribe them with? These are the two best ways I know:

  • Offer them free information like a “How To” report or “Top 10 List”
  • Offer them a freebie or discount

Bribe Them with Free Information

I’ve used this strategy before with great success and so can you. Last year I bribed about 400 people into signing up for my email list by offering them a report called “Top 10 Beach and Ocean Safety List for Kids and their Families.” If you want to do something similar, why not offer a free report or white paper like “The Top 10 Questions to Ask a Camp Director” or “Top 7 Secrets of Choosing a Summer Camp?” (How could anyone say no to that??...just the word "Secrets" would probably get them to do it!)

Offer a freebie or discount

Economists keep saying the economy’s improving. Oh really? Nobody I know feels like that. But even in a good economic times everyone loves a discount or getting something free. Why not offer Mom $25 bucks off camp tuition? Or a free lunch sack from your camp store? How about 4 free tickets to the new Disney’s Oceans movie or a Major League Baseball game? You can bet I’d give you my email address if you offered me something like that!

I just thought of something I better not leave out. When you start seeing your email list getting larger and larger you'll be temped to start emailing people left and right. You must control this urge! If you start abusing people one with email after email, offer after offer, day after day, they’ll eventually get resentful and opt-out of receiving your emails faster than they joined your list in the first place. I recommend emailing your prospects every 10 days or so -- that's more than enough to keep folks engaged without pissing them off.

You know what? I’ll bet if you asked my wife if I’m a smart guy she’d say “only sometimes.” But if there’s one thing I know for sure right now it's this: Establishing relationships via email is the single most fail proof way to establish trust and connections – at least initially – with prospects online.

You can take this advice or leave it. If you decide to use the ideas presented here, I assure you your prospect list will grow much faster than whatever you can get from Facebook and Twitter, and people will warm up to you faster, too. By extension people will feel more comfortable signing up for your program and telling all their friends about your great camp, too.

How can you beat that?

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