The First Commandment of Ezines: Respect thy subscribers

It seems like every time I turn on the news these days, there’s some legal controversy over the Ten Commandments.  One of our state Supreme Court justices lost his job over them.  Another state judge has them embroidered on his robe.  And now I hear the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing cases from Texas and Kentucky on the subject this month.

So I started thinking – if I could impart ten pieces of wisdom about ezine marketing to my readers, what would they be?  We’ll be looking at one of my suggested “commandments” each month for the rest of 2005.

Commandment #1: Thou Shalt Respect Thy Subscribers

This would be, in my humble opinion, the “Great Commandment” of publishing an ezine.  Your subscribers – their email addresses, their time, the permission they give you to market to them over and over – deserve as much respect as you can give them. Violate any of the unwritten rules of subscriber respect, and you’ve lost a treasure indeed.

So, how do you show respect to your subscribers?  Here are a few ways:

  • Don’t sell, give away or publish subscribers’ email addresses – I couldn’t believe my eyes.  I opened an email from a professional association I belonged to, and right there in the “To:” field of the email were the email addresses of the entire association’s membership, including senior executives at some high-profile local companies.  I groaned – out loud.  And within days, I started getting unsolicited advertising emails from others who had gotten a copy of that email.
  • Whatever you do, protect those precious email addresses from others’ prying eyes.  Don’t ever (and I do mean ever) sell or give those addresses away.  And if you insist on using your regular email program to send out mass emails (a very bad idea, for reasons we’ll discuss in coming months), at least hide the mailing list in the “Bcc:” field.  Respect your subscribers’ privacy.  Please.

  • Remember, you’re talking to one person at a time – I hate being treated like just another person in the crowd.  Don’t you?  Never talk to your readers as if they’re a group.  Talk to them conversationally, individually, personally.  If the software you’re using allows it, address them by name (but don’t overdo it).  The tone of your ezine is just as important as the content.
  • Give them clear instructions on how to unsubscribe or change their profile – Provide readers with clearly marked links that enable them to unsubscribe from your ezine if they wish, or to change their profile (if they have one).  If you have more than one ezine, make sure your link takes them to a well-designed web page to let them subscribe or unsubscribe from all of your publications in one step.


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