When I talk to business owners who are new to online marketing, one of the questions I’m most commonly asked is why email marketing?
Like with anything you do to market your business online, it’s always important to understand the pros and cons before getting started.
But before laying out the benefits email marketing can bring to a small business, I typically start by talking about why a business owner would want to grow his or her list of email contacts.
After all, getting started with email marketing is about a lot more than just creating and sending marketing emails. It’s about a fundamental shift in the way a business approaches its marketing.
It’s about taking control of your message and delivering it to an audience of people who can make a measurable impact on your business’ bottom line. Without an understanding of the value of that audience, it’s unlikely you’ll ever achieve the type of results you’re looking for from email or any other marketing outlet.
Why small businesses need to grow their list
Right now, you already have an audience for your business.
When you have events, people show up. When you hold a sale or introduce a new product, people are there to buy. And when you open your doors each morning, you know you won’t be spending the day alone.
Your phone rings, your website gets traffic, and over time your business grows.
But if you’re not giving this audience a way to stay connected with you when they’re away from your business—you’re missing out on a valuable opportunity to build relationships with these customers and accelerate the growth your business can achieve by driving action around the things you’re already doing.
Social media alone isn’t enough
Sure, you could set up a Facebook Page or get started on Twitter but at the end of the day you don’t really own those contacts—you’re renting them. You can put days, weeks, and months into building a fanbase but if one day Facebook decides to limit your ability to deliver your message, you’ll be no better off than when you started.
On the flipside, by growing your email contact list, you’ll be able to take control of your message and communicate with your audience on your own terms. You’ll be giving the people who are actually interested in attending your events, buying your products, or signing up for services the ability to opt-in to receive information that’s relevant to them.
And because you know the information is getting delivered to a place these customers are going everyday—the inbox—you know your message is reaching your target audience.
That’s what growing your contact list can do for your small business. And that’s the best case for why small businesses should consider email marketing.
Why it’s important to keep growing your contact list
Once you understand the value of your list, it’s easy to understand the importance of continuing to grow it. As your contact list grows, so too does the likelihood of your target audience receiving your message. You’re expanding to reach more people who can help your business grow by becoming repeat customers and spreading the word about your business.
Continuing to actively grow your contact list allows you to keep an ongoing cycle of customers, clients, and prospects opting in to receive information from you, which means more and more opportunities to be there when they need you and more chances to grow your business from the inbox and beyond.
Doing more with your contact list
Once you have a list of contacts, you can start to think differently about how you communicate with your audience online.
Rather than standing in front of an audience with a megaphone trying to promote the things you think are most important, you can learn what your readers are actually interested in and communicate with them as individuals, rather than members of a broader population.
By keeping track of how your contacts interact with your emails, you can learn more about who these people are, what problems they’re facing, and how you can better position your business to address their needs. From there, you can make smarter decisions about what content to provide and which contacts to provide it to.
And because not all businesses are taking the time to gather this information, you’ll have an immediate advantage over those businesses solely interacting with customers on rented space.
A simple strategy for growing your list
Not sure where to start when growing your list? Consider this simple strategy.
Growing your list really breaks down to two things: covering your touch points and remembering to ask.
You want to make it easy for people to join your list and the best way to do that is by making your list available at all the places people are interacting with your business. Whether it’s on your website, Facebook Page, or blog; at your store, restaurant, or office; or at your events—covering your touch points will guarantee your audience will grow and won’t require much heavy lifting from you or your staff.
You also need to make asking people to share their email address, part of your regular routine. Most of the people who walk through your door, call your business, or connect with you on sites like Facebook or Twitter will be happy to hear more about your business—all you need to do is ask!
To encourage them even further, you can provide an additional incentive for signing up or simply tell that what type of content they’ll receive after their information is added to your list.
By taking this simple approach, you’ll be on your way to growing your contact list and opening your business up to new opportunities in the process.
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