Email is the primary mode of communication for many small businesses, and perhaps more importantly, it's also important to consumers. This is why email marketing can be a great way to promote your business. Provided you make it through the inbox clutter, email marketing can keep your business on the minds of your clients and potential clients.
The first step of using email marketing to reach your clients is building a well-organized and efficient email list. If you aren't currently collecting addresses either through a sign-up form on your website, manually in your retail location, through social media channels, or in a different manner, building a list should be one of your first steps.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you get started.
Choose the Right Email Marketing Service
The first step of getting started with email marketing is selecting an email marketing service that will help you collect addresses, allow you to manage your list, and make it easy to send messages to your list. This is a very important step because it's not easy to change providers once your list is started.
This list of email marketing services provides some basic information about a few of the most popular services.
Make It Easy to Sign Up
Signing up for your list should take a few quick seconds. The easier it is and the less hoops your target audience has to jump through, the quicker your list will grow.
You should also make sure you put your sign-up form where it can be seen. That means in a visible location on your website, at the checkout counter at your store, and possibly even on your receipts and marketing collateral. If you have a contact form or online shopping system on your website, you should also include a checkbox on those forms so visitors can sign up as they complete other activities on your site.
Follow the Rules
Even if you have a thousand contacts in your personal address book that you are sure would like to receive email from you, you can't just start sending them unsolicited messages. There are rules about how you can add email addresses to your list and how you can use your list. There are a lot of rules, in fact, about how you can contact clients and potential contacts through email.
The CAN-SPAM Act was created to protect consumers from spam. Get familiar with this compliance guide for small business, provided by the Federal Trade Commission.
Make it clear what people are signing up to receive and include a statement on every form that you will never share their information or use it for any other purpose than your mailings. And then don't!
It is also a good idea to let subscribers know how often they can expect to receive messages from you when they sign up.
Provide an Incentive
Some of the most successful sign-up formats are those that give the subscriber something for free when they sign up. This can be a free report, a discount, a contest or sweepstakes, or some other wanted incentive. Just be sure to make it clear that in requesting the freebie, they are signing up for your mailing list (and of course, they can always unsubscribe).
It's important to remember that it takes time to cultivate an email list of customers and prospects who are interested in receiving information about your products and services. But by following these tips consistently, and giving your list time to grow, you will be able to develop a long-term tool for promoting your business.