To stay in business, you need a steady stream of customers. This starts with communicating with your audience on a regular basis. Having an ongoing dialogue increases their trust of your company, and helps you stay top-of-mind. Do this right, and they will look forward to hearing from you.
Email marketing is an excellent channel for reaching out to your customers and prospects. People who give your company permission to send emails to them are showing interest. They are even showing a bit of trust and commitment. These are the kind of people you want to reach out to on a regular basis.
You can start building an email list right away, even before you have prepared an email campaign. Just ask people who come into contact with your company to provide their email address and agree to receive occasional emails from you. Provide a signup form when you meet customers and prospects face-to-face. Put a signup form on your website – email marketing services such as Constant Contact provide signup forms you can use. Link to the signup form from your company’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media accounts.
What should you email out, and how often? That depends on your type of business and your current goals. Here are some examples:
- A fitness center might prepare a weekly email of upcoming classes and events at the location. They can run special offers in the weekly email – on the same day each week. Occasionally, they can draw attention to a campaign or event by sending an email on a different day.
- An ecommerce website sends an email every two weeks with special offers, product highlights and links to articles on their own website.
- A non-profit issues emails as-needed to drum up event attendees, volunteers and donations. Emails get more frequent during a campaign, and less often during downtimes.
Did you know that people are more likely to refer their friends and co-workers to companies they love and trust? You want to be that type of company. Provide a great product or service, fill a need, and keep up the quality over time. Not everyone has to be your customer: focus on several target markets. Figure out what type of customer they are by segmenting the email list when they sign up. Let them choose what type of topics they are interested in, and perhaps how frequently they want to receive emails. You can do this right on the email signup form. If you already have a list that you are sending to, you can conduct a survey to help segment the list. Constant Contact’s survey tool allows you to instantly create groups based on how subscribers fill in the survey.
There are many email marketing systems to choose from, but which is best for your customer? They will want:
- relevant content (tips, news, knowledge, articles, etc.)
- An easy way to subscribe
- an easy way to unsubscribe
- privacy – you will not reveal their email address
- advanced notice of what they are signing up for
- exclusive offers
- regular communication
- notice of upcoming events and specials
As the company running an email campaign, you might be tempted to choose a free service such as BCC (blind carbon-copy). Sending an email to a recipient list can cause untold damage to your organization. Some day, a mistake will be made and the entire list will be revealed to all. Also, the chances of your email getting past spam barriers are not good. And you cannot track the results: opens, clicks and forwards.
A shortcut service will offer “free email marketing service if you have fewer than x number of subscribers for life.” This service will allow you to log in and upload your contacts, then prepare an email in their system and send it out. The main problem with this type of free service is that you might be getting what you pay for. Try out their phone-based customer service. Look at reviews online. Rummage around to find out what you have to pay for, and when. Read through the help and try several searches in the help system.
Constant Contact offers a free trial, which ends after 60 days or when you reach 100 subscribers. Their customer service team, based in Andover, MA is second-to-none and will answer all your questions. They have plenty of live and recorded webinars, and well-written help topics. They provide free coaching when you start with the service. They also offer surveys and a way to run events. Click to give Constant Contact a try. After you sign up, you may be eligible for a free website match through Web Marketing Star – contact us after you start your trial.