Small businesses today need to take advantage of everything in their power to build relationships with existing customers. It’s also important to target and engage with potential new customers.
One good way to do this is by building an email list of your customers and target audience. If you aren’t doing this, then you’re leaving money on the table. And I know you don’t want to do that.
Too often, I see small businesses who observe their customers come and go without ever making any effort to maintain a relationship with them. How would you answer the following questions:
- Do you have any idea what your customers are thinking when they leave?
- Do you have any idea whether they plan on coming back?
- Do they have any way of directly learning when you offer a special or have exciting news to share? Do you have any way of offering them help, support, tips, or other valuable information that will keep you fresh in their minds?
If your answers are mostly negative, you could do much better. You could easily answer yes to all these questions if you start building a customer email list.
By doing so, you can expect an increase in revenue, as well a better relationship with your customers. All you have to do is handle your email marketing campaigns responsibly.
Building, growing, and maintaining your email list requires time and effort, but it’s absolutely worth it. If you aren’t sure how to do this, or you’ve just never thought about doing it, here’s how to get started.
Getting Set Up
The first thing you’re going to need is a way to capture your customer emails and manage them, as well as a way to send emails. There are different options for doing this, but probably the easiest is by using a third-party service. Some to consider include:
They’re all fairly easy to set up, with guides to help even the absolute beginner find his or her way. Most have a free trial you can start with. MailChimp is free until you reach 2,000 subscribers, and you can send 12,000 emails per month on their free plan.
Once you’re all set up, though, how are you going to get customers to sign on to your list? There are plenty of ways, and we can’t cover every option here, but I’ll give you a few to get started.
You ought to think outside the box and be creative, though. Track what works best for you and scale up the method that your customers seem to be the most comfortable with.
Get it While They’re in Buying Mode
If they’re buying from you, then obviously you have something they like.
This is a great time to capture their email address. If they’re walking into your store or office, simply ask them if they’d like to be added to your email list for special offers or a possible discount on their next visit. If either appeals to them, get their email. You can do this old-school and have them write it down.
You can also set up a mobile landing page where they can input their email on their smartphone right then. You could put a display out on the counter with a QR code they scan that takes them right to the landing page (make sure it’s mobile friendly!). You could make the QR an additional item that is printed on your receipts or business cards.
Get Your Site Visitors to Participate
All of the third-party services I listed above make it pretty easy to copy and paste some code into your site for an opt-in form. This is the form they’ll put their info in to be added to your mailing list.
The first thing you want to do is make sure there’s an opt-in form prominently visible regardless of what they’re visiting — but don’t make it too distracting. It should be easily accessible and visible all across your site, but it should not get in the way or irritate your viewers.
Secondly, think about your visitors. Why SHOULD they sign up? Think about what you are going to offer them. You can simply tell them that, by signing up, they’ll receive special offers that are only made available to those who join your list.
You can also offer them something right away. It could be coupons or discounts, but it doesn’t have to be. You can just as easily offer a free ebook or report. Don’t freak out here; this is much easier to do than you think. In most industries, it won’t take more than a few hours of your time to create it… and if you simply can’t, there are plenty of writers you can hire to do it for you.
Let’s look at an example:
If you sell lawn equipment, you probably know a lot about the equipment you sell. You probably know when’s the best time to use a piece of equipment, the best way to run it, and how to take care of it so it lasts longer. You could offer a simple 10-page report that offers that knowledge to your potential customers.
They’ll appreciate that; and when it comes time to buy, you can bet they’ll remember you. Plus, you already know they’re interested in your products because they wanted to get their hands on this information.
Now you’re creating a targeted list of leads to whom you can send information, promotions, and news. Topic ideas might include the following (but you’re the expert here!):
- 10 Signs Your Lawnmower’s About to Die!
- The Best Time of Year to Start [fill in a lawn-related task here]
- 9 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Lawn in 9 Minutes or Less
A Few Words of Caution
- Never add people to your list on their behalf. Make sure the potential customer is the one who does it and that you use “double opt-in” which proves you have their express permission and invitation to send them email.
- Don’t simply go out and try to buy a list. You can never know for sure how the seller obtained the users’ information. You cannot know whether that list has been abused and emailed 200 times from 30 different companies. You have no way of knowing if the contacts on the list are likely to be receptive and responsive, or your emails will simply end up in the trash.
- Be selective about the emails you send and plan your campaign ahead of time. No one wants to be constantly bombarded with emails or they’ll unsubscribe in a heartbeat. The same is true if they don’t feel special about being on your list; in other words, you’re simply sending out emails to be sending out emails. Every email should provide some kind of value that makes the recipients look forward to opening a message when they see it’s from you.
Building your list and incorporating email marketing into your online sales plan can be very lucrative if you take the time to do it right. As with almost anything that has to do with marketing your business, it won’t be an overnight sensation.
But in time, you’ll wonder why you never did this before.
Have you implemented an email marketing campaign and seen great results? Tell me in the comments!
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