Growing a mailing list is a CRUCIAL part of running a profitable small business. Social media followers will come and go and you do not have control over the social media platforms that host your content, so it’s never a good idea to rely solely on social media for engaging with customers.
A mailing list is one of the first things I recommend for my small business clients and there are so many reasons why. First and foremost is the trust factor. If a customer hands over their email address, there’s a pretty good chance they believe that doing so is a good idea. They are expecting that content you send them will be valued based on their prior experience with your business or service. Landing in your customer’s mailbox is the best way to cut through all of the other marketing chatter out there– it’s one of the only ways to get right in front of their eyes!
So what are the most important things to keep in mind when starting (or maintaining) a mailing list? One of the most important factors in growing your email list is to create a high-value opt-in incentive. The opt-in incentive is what you are offering your potential subscriber in exchange for their email address. You may also hear it referred to as a lead magnet. It can be a discount on your goods or services, an e-book, a checklist, etc. Here is how to create a high-value opt-in incentive…
Create a High-Value Opt-in Incentive
If you haven’t started a mailing list, go ahead and set it up now and then return to this article– it’s that important! The earlier in your business you start, the better! Once you have your list set up, you need to create your opt-in incentive or lead magnet.
People get SO much email now, so they are often unwilling to hand over their email address to anyone who asks because they just don’t want anything else in their inbox. This is where your lead magnet comes in. You have to offer your target customer something valuable in order for them to give you their email address. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Cheat sheet
- Coupon or Other Discount on Goods/Services
- Tool kits
- Resource lists
I recommend creating a few so you can test them out and see which ones are most successful. It may take a few tries, but when you find the right one, your mailing list will really take off!
Email Your Customers Regularly
How often you should email your customers depends on a number of different factors. It’s important to consider what you can realistically commit to in terms of frequency. However, you want to make sure that you are reaching out regularly, so I advise clients to set a conservative goal–you can always increase the frequency at a later time. For example, instead of promising weekly newsletters, you might want to start with monthly to assess how it goes and adjust accordingly.
If you own a retail small business, consider that your mailing cycle may also vary seasonally, i.e. you may email more frequently around the holiday season to encourage customers to visit your store or purchase gifts online. Make a plan and commit to sending out email regularly–it will become a habit that will pay dividends!
It’s also important to look at your email campaign results. If you seem to be getting more unsubscribes, it may be because of the content you are sending or perhaps too many emails, so you can cut back and see if that makes a difference. It’s really an experimental process and you need to find the sweet spot that works best for your business and your customers.
Capture their Email address Whenever Possible!
Whenever you have the chance to obtain (with their permission of course!) your customer’s email address, take it! Go through your website and marketing materials and find out where you might be able to capture emails. For example, can you add a tickbox for subscribing on your order form? Could you ask for a customer email after they receive services? When you brainstorm, you will likely find that there are many different opportunities to capture your prospect or customer’s email address– you may just need to dig a little!
Add a Sign-up Link to Your Email Signature
Most people overlook the opportunity of adding a sign-up link to your email signature. It’s an easy way to offer your opt-in incentive and further grow your mailing list, so I definitely recommend giving it a try if you haven’t yet! This tactic works especially well if you have a powerful opt-in incentive.
Place Your Sign-up Form in Multiple Locations on Your Website
This is another often overlooked opportunity! We assume that because we have a sign-up form in one location on our website (usually the sidebar) that EVERY visitor sees it. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many people have been trained to ignore sidebar content, so why not try putting it in the footer of your site or after every blog post? You might also create a specific tab in your navigation menu for your sign-up form. There is a myriad of possible locations where you can embed your form on a website, so place it in a few different spots.
Collect Email Addresses at Your Events
Special events or meetings are a great way to get email addresses for customers or potential customers– just make sure they are aware that you are collecting their email to send them information. It can be as easy as adding a checkbox to a signup or feedback form. Make this practice part of your marketing strategy and you can sit back and watch your list grow!
Now it’s time to put this plan into motion. If you haven’t started a mailing list yet, go set one up now. Mailchimp and MailerLite are two email service providers that are free for smaller lists. If you already have a list set up but it’s not doing anything for you, now is the time to start growing and using it!