Engagement is the name of the game in the new millennium. It is all about networking and building relationships with your consumers with some form of continual contact. One of the best means of communication is by email. If you are not building a strong, reliable email list, you are making a big mistake! How do you expect to generate sales for your products or services and achieve sustainable growth in your business?
Relationships are built on trust. Because you are building your list via email, you must be prepared to give people time and opportunity to get to know you and what you represent. The continual contact via email allows your subscribers to get to know you on a more personal level, which is why staying in touch and providing valuable information and helpful content at regular intervals is critical to keep your list loyal and engaged. This in turn leads to purchases, referrals, leads, social sharing and other financially relevant opportunities.
Why are email lists so important? Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) refers to the resources and money a business has to allocate (either financial or otherwise) in order to acquire new customers. This is an important business metric. Depending on the nature of your business, it can identify just how expensive it is to acquire new customers. As we know, the expense involved in finding new customers is always more expensive than selling to a current (and past) customers.
Imagine having to spend money every month on advertisements to acquire new customers. That can be very expensive, particularly if other companies are competing for that same ad space or keyword. Unless you can prove that spending money on ads pays for itself, eventually you will see it as a waste of time, money and effort.
Building your email list, nurturing a real relationship with people over time, and managing your list for the long term is the way to go. So, how do you build a successful email list? Let's consider the following:
There are FIVE main ingredients to building a strong email list:
1. List Management Software: Building a list of hundreds, if not thousands of people, is not something you want to maintain manually. List management software helps you keep track of your subscribers and alerts you of others who may wish to unsubscribe to your list. This is all done automatically so you can spend your time more effectively.
2. Email Broadcasting Software: Your list management software should come with email broadcasting capabilities. This means that you can send an unlimited number of email messages (in either text or HTML format) to an unlimited number of subscribers. Typically, this software is sold on a month-to-month basis, maintained on a server managed by the software company and come highly recommended since are also working for giants like Yahoo!, Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL. Spam-monitoring websites such as SpamHaus.org and Surbl.org complete your software needs.
3. Opt-in Form Creation Software: There are two ways to develop your email list. One is by selling to customers that have had experience with you. Another way is to offer potential customers a free gift (for example) in exchange for their names and email addresses. You should have an opt-in feature on virtually every page in your sidebar or at least at the end of every article you post. Typically, opt-in forms come with your email broadcasting software. If not, opt-in forms can be placed in your website header, footer, websites sidebar, pop-up windows, landing pages and even name-squeeze pages.
4. Great Content: Do you have a flexible product or service such that you can offer a sampling to introduce yourself to your prospects and customers? Entice them with information about what is happening in your industry or any new product developments. If you have customers that are already using your products, offer a Q & A on how to use your products or troubleshoot a specific customer inquiry. Newsletters are also an excellent means to communicate with your list.
5. Great Offers: Never send an email without some kind of offer keeping in mind the 90/10 rule: Ninety percent content that enriches their business and/or personal growth and 10 percent up-sell to whatever it is you sell. If you are repeatedly trying to sell the same product, you can expect your customers to hit the "unsubscribe" button. The bottom line is... people just want to know what the deals are and how they can get them at affordable prices. That should be your goal.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU EMAIL YOUR LIST?
You run the risk of customers hitting the delete button in their inbox if you send an email every day. Establish a regular timetable (weekly, bi-monthly) that makes sense for your business. Try to make your emails identifiable so customers know that they've got mail... from you!
Another way to assess how frequently you should email your customers is to ask them. Take a mini-survey so you deliver content on a regular basis and don't overwhelm them.
Here are a couple of tips from my experience. Be sure NOT to send emails to your customers on "manic" Mondays and "gone for the weekend" Fridays. A better time to email your list is Tuesday morning so your customers are more likely to receive and process the information.
HOW LARGE SHOULD YOUR LIST BE?
That depends on the quality of your list and what you sell. Some businesses can maintain a list of 1,500 to 2,500 people and do very well. Their product is a consumable product and it has a high price-point and profit margin. Others prefer lists of 5,000 to 10,000.
Today's email marketing is perfectly suited to the way small businesses have always operated. It is personal, immediate and easily tailored to what makes your product or service unique to a buyer. Above all, it's practical.
Your email should entertain, inform, educate and enlighten so your customers look forward to hearing from you. So, is email marketing important to your business' bottom line? The answer is: Absolutely.
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