Relevancy and the betrayal of trust

What is it that separates a highly responsive list from one that isn’t?  I don’t need to tell you that a highly responsive list is worth its weight in gold – you already know that.  Nobody starts out saying to themselves that they’re going to build a big unresponsive list, but too often this is the result.  Building and maintaining a highly responsive mailing list, whether the email kind or the snail mail kind, requires that you master 3 things.

3 Key factors to a strong mailing listSet the expectation

Setting the expectation is about letting people know what to expect from you.  When do you send out mailings?  How often will you send out mailings?  What do your mailings look like and what will be inside?  The answer to these basic questions forms much of the foundation of what your subscribers are expecting from you.  If you don’t answer these questions up-front, before they are asked, you leave your people to figure it out on their own, which is seldom a good idea.  It’s always better to start the relationship off right, by clearly communicating what comes next.  By setting the expectation from the very beginning, you’re gaining the trust of your audience.  All relationships are all about trust, so start things off on the right foot by letting folks know what to expect with you.


Segmentation is about sending your people the information that they’re interested and not sending them what they’re not interested in.  Sounds simple right?  Then why do so many companies get this wrong?  Segmenting is really about sending people the information that they are most likely to be interested in.  A basic rule for speakers or writers is to know your audience.  Targeted mailings have higher response rates than general mailings for obvious reasons.  Don’t betray the trust that your subscribers have placed in you by sending them mail that they aren’t likely to be interested in.

Segmenting your audience allows you to send a narrowly targeted mailing that will be relevant to a segment of your list.  This may mean that you segment your list into several groups and send some of your mailings to specific groupings rather than your entire list.  Segmenting your list by customers and non-customers, by product/service that they’ve purchased, or by interest, etc., will give you the opportunity to really connect with your people through mailings that are highly relevant for the person receiving them.


“What is in it for me?” is a question that we all ask ourselves.  We evaluate new opportunities with this criteria, and we scan incoming mail with this same criteria in mind.  When your upcoming mailing is still in its infancy, when it is still in the idea stage, try to think of WIIFM from your subscriber’s view point.  Preparing your mailing with an eye toward your subscriber’s perspective will transform the value that you provide in your mailings and the value that you receive from your subscribers as a result.

Setting the expectations and segmenting your list allow you to provide highly relevant mailings to the people on your list.  Approaching each mailing mindful of your audience’s interests, needs, and desires, is essential for building and maintaining high value lists.  Your subscribers trust you.  Treat them with respect and provide them with interesting, valuable, and relevant information and offers, and they will reward you for your efforts.

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