Today’s consumers are far savvier than they used to be, particularly when it comes to technology and media. They are well-versed in spam as well as the dangers of identity theft and online fraud. For business owners, smart customers means effective email marketing can be a challenge when many of those potential customers may hesitate to provide you an email address and personal information. Don’t let that discourage you; while it may seem like no one would want to opt-in, the right strategy and content can still make email a powerful tool in your marketing arsenal.
The key to building an effective list is to start with a base that you can grow over time. Keep in touch with those customers who indicate interest and analyze campaign results regularly to segment your list into specific audiences based on what you learn about them. Based on their interests, demographics and history develop and provide content regularly that is relevant to their needs. In the end, it won’t be the size of your list that matters, but how well it performs because you are talking to the right people at the right time about the right thing.
Gathering email addresses can be a challenge, especially if you stick with a routine of asking for them on a standard form in a bland context. Connect with them when you know they’re interested: while they’re in your store, when they register for services or information or at special events your company promotes. Small businesses can effectively leverage community outreach projects to cull possible customers by offering coupons, giveaways, free gifts or samples while providing a service or hosting events such as car washes or barbeques.
To capture their interest as well as their email address, devise a sign-up process that offers content relevant to your audience’s interests—and be sure it gathers enough information to build at least a basic segmented list without leaving your potential customers feeling like they’re giving out their life story.
If your business offers multiple service lines, you can engage a wide audience with varied approaches. For example, banks can hone in on a younger audience with student checking accounts and offers of free cash at registration tables set up in strategic places on campus. That same demographic can become loyal customers, and perhaps a great candidate for mortgages offers later down the road. Offer customers what is relevant to them and they will be more likely to remember your business and become a new or repeat customer.
Liken your email list to a garden – you need to pay attention to what it needs. Cultivate it into a list that serves you well by feeding it what it needs, weeding out the unnecessary and non-responsive parts, and pruning it into shape by segmenting it into relevant audiences with unique profiles, wants and needs. In the long run, it doesn’t matter how big your email list is, but whether or not it is healthy and productive.