More and more businesspeople are beginning to realize they need to get serious about building their permission-based email lists and taking advantage of the opportunities provided by online marketing. They may have been doing email marketing for years with a haphazard, less than focused attitude, but times have changed…and so must they. Smart business owners are learning that, if they get serious about building their lists, they can bring in more business. It really works!
Building your list in tough economic times is more important than ever. Your list is a pre-qualified target audience. They know you and your products and services. Chances are they have already bought from you in the past. They are an easier sell and a great source of referrals. That’s why email marketing is the most effective tool in your marketing mix. For fractions of a penny per person, you can stay in touch with your best customers and nurture your relationship with them. When they are ready to buy….they will think of you first!
Permission is Not Optional
Email marketing is different from other forms of direct marketing. Because of today’s anti-spam laws, you can no longer send random marketing emails to anyone and everyone you have an address for. And only permission-based emails make it past the spam filters and into your customer’s inbox. The rest go to a spam folder and most likely never get opened. You need to ask before you add someone to your email list.
Unsolicited email can also hurt your brand, your marketing campaign, and your reputation. Consider how you feel every time you open your email account and see unsolicited emails from some pharmaceutical company trying to sell the “bigger is better” drugs, or from some non-profit organization wanting donations….or anyone trying to sell you something you did not ask for. You can avoid creating that same negative impression by ensuring that you are using only permission-based email addresses. The best way to do this is to provide a two-stage opt-in process that requires confirmation before the address goes into your database.
Act Quickly, But Don’t Over Do It
If someone shares his or her email address with you, that person is now expecting to get something from you. Don’t wait several weeks or months to make contact with them. He or she won’t remember you and will delete your email or unsubscribe immediately. Send a welcome email and a copy of your most recent newsletter while the connection is still fresh on their mind.
Sending too many emails too often is also a no-no. People don’t want to be bombarded with information about your business, no matter how good it might be. Anything more than once a week could generate a high number of spam complaints and get you on an ISP’s bad side. Your emails can end up out in space and never even reach the customer’s spam folder.
Clean and Analyze Your Mailing Lists
One great thing about email marketing is that you can monitor the results much more carefully than with old fashioned direct mailing. You can see how many emails were sent, how many were opened, who opened them, who forwarded the email to friends, who used the links in the email to click on your web site, and you can see who blocked you or opted out from receiving future emails. The technology is wonderful. Knowing what to do with it is another story.
You can’t just keep adding to the list without ever cleaning it up. Growing your list is important, but don’t do it at the expense of quality. A large list may look impressive, but having a list of quality names should be your priority.
Using a “dirty” list with too many unsolicited, incorrect, out-of-date or duplicated addresses hurts your email campaign. The statistics will not be accurate and could give you a false sense of failure. By cleaning out bad addresses, you will be able to reduce the amount of undeliverable emails and it also helps you to spot problems.
Review your list on a regular basis and see who hasn’t opened or clicked for the last six months. Send them a special offer compelling them to re-connect with you. If that doesn’t work, you may want to consider another option, Broadcast Marketing [http://spalontechniques.com/Broadcast_Service.html]. This new phone calling technology is a more personal and direct way to make contact with your customers.
Getting New Subscribers
The Sign Up Box
The simplest and most obvious way to get new subscribers is to provide them with a sign up box. This should appear in a prominent location on your home page and on each page of your web site. Place one in the signature block at the end of each email you send out.
In Your Store
Keep a “join our mailing list” sign-up sheet at your register and instruct employees to invite customers to sign up. Have a guest book in your reception area for visitors to provide their name and email address. Place a clear Lucite stand near the sign-up sheets with your most current newsletter in it so people can see what they are signing up for. A visual like this can be very compelling. If you don’t have a monthly newsletter, there are services available that specialize in this.
Offer an incentive for new subscribers such as an email coupon for 10% off their next purchase. Be sure to send this coupon out right away. The customer is expecting it and it also gives you the opportunity to verify the email address they gave is correct. If the email fails to go through, contact the customer by phone if possible to get the correct email address.
Over the Phone
Whenever a customer or potential customer contacts you by phone, be sure to ask if they are already signed up for your monthly newsletter and email-only specials. If not, ask if they would like to sign up.
At Business or Networking Events
When you meet colleagues at a business function, ask permission to sign them up for your mailing list. They will most likely have a business card handy with their name and email address on it. If you will keep a pen on hand, simply make a “yes” notation on the back of the card indicating they have given you permission to add their name to your list. You can also place the “yes” cards in one pocket and the “no thanks” cards in another.
Always have your own business cards on hand to pass out as well. This is still one of the least expensive methods of advertising. Have a line on the back of your card with your web site address and an invitation to “sign up for our free newsletter.”
On Your Printed Materials
Be sure to have a line on all of your printed materials (brochures, direct mail, fact sheets, business cards) with your web site address and an invitation to “sign up for our free newsletter.” Offer an incentive for signing up, e.g. a free report on something related to your business, a free consultation, email-only discounts.
Social Media Sites and Blogs
If you have a blog or you are on one of the social media sites (which you should be!) like Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter, post a “tease” or a small portion of your newsletter there with a link to your web site or a sign up link.
Friends and Family
It’s a big mistake to overlook our close friends and family when we are seeking to increase our email list. They can be some of our biggest “fans” when it comes to what we do or the products we offer and they enjoy telling others about it. If your newsletter has articles of interest or helpful information, they will be more inclined to forward it to their friends and co-workers. The more contacts you make, the more sign ups you will have…..and the more your business will grow.
Andrea Pekarik Welch specializes in helping people to build their business through the understanding of the basics of advertising, internet marketing and utilizing social media to their business’ advantage. Whether you have the typical brick and mortar business, email marketing with monthly newsletters is an absolute must when keeping in contact with your clients.