This morning finds me battling equipment issues, as seems to be the case at least one week out of every month. Ah, the perils of small business ownership... So, given that my time and attention is required today in areas other than writing, I'll keep today's blogging to a minimum. I do, however, wish to pose a question for my fellow small business owners about using newsletters to keep in touch with customers.
With the holidays fast approaching (much faster than I'd prefer, truthfully), and given that I'm a greeting card company, I've been seriously considering using a newsletter to help spread the word about the availability of my holiday designs, opportunities for custom ordering, and Mission Soldier Support, the EtsyGreetings project to get handmade cards into the hands of our troops overseas so they can send them to their friends and families in time for the holidays.
I do have an existing (relatively small) mailing list, and have done mailings in the past. But my business has grown to the point that I feel a more, shall we say, professional newsletter is in order. Price, however, is of course an issue, particularly with the astounding number of equipment expenditures that have been required in recent months.
Constant Contact seems to be the standard email marketing service for small businesses. However, as I understand it, there is a monthly fee. And, frankly, I can't see myself using the service more than a few times per year - more than that would feel spammy to me and I fear my customers would balk. I've heard of a few pay-per-use companies (MailChimp, I believe has been mentioned by some fellow Estyians?), but haven't a clue as to which is the best fit for my company.
Which brings me to my question(s), fellow business owners, should you care to weigh in: How do you use email to keep in touch with your customers? Are you happy with your service? How effective are your email campaigns at driving repeat business? How do you handle opting in? Via blog or direct customer interaction?
Your opinion is very much appreciated. Without you, how would I ever accomplish a thing? And with that, I'm off to the printer wars. Check ya tomorrow when, hopefully, I'll be up and running again.