A popular Internet battle cry states that “the money is in your list”. It’s true that you can make a lot of money by building a list of opt-in subscribers, establishing trust with those subscribers and sending those subscribers special offers promoting your products. But you must do it correctly. Here’s a few tips that will help you get the most bang for your buck out of your list-building activities:
Collect Only Relevant Information
While requesting a visitor to sign up, collect information that is relevant to your business. A recent study lamented that most of the corporate probing was unnecessary, given that most companies never act on the information they extract from their customers. It is crucial that you know exactly what you intend to do with the information you’re going to collect. Moreover, you should also be able to prove to your visitors that information you would be collecting from them is actually vital for your business.
Don’t Make Your Customers Repeat Information
Most customers don’t mind telling their banks the ages of their children if they think the bank will use the information to help them sort through the myriad of college savings plans or make them aware of estate planning issues. But nothing irritates customers more than having to repeat the same information to each channel as if it’s the first time they've ever heard the information. This is especially true in the case of email lists on websites.
Focus Your List
We’ve discussed the importance of focusing or targeting customers earlier as well. Current customers are the most important email addresses to collect, much more so than prospects. They’ll be more receptive to your communications and likely to respond, since they’re familiar with your company and its products. Don’t waste your time running campaigns that attract a high number of visitors who have no interest in your products or services.
Special Offers and Discounts
Special offers like coupons and discounts are classic direct marketing techniques that translate extremely well to email. In order for an offer to be effective, it must provide something of real value to the recipient. Minimal discounts are not enough to get the reader’s attention; you have to offer something of substance. Of course, don’t discount lower than your profit on the transaction. Having a time limit on discounted offers is also very important in order for the call to action to work effectively.
Apart from using the Internet, there are also ways you can use your marketing efforts in the real world to help build your email lists.
From your local chamber of commerce, to specialized industry groups, the meetings of many organizations are great opportunities to make contact with new people. You are exchanging business cards with interested prospects or possible referral sources, so make sure that you send appropriate email communications to these people. Start with a personal email recapping your conversation with them, and ask them if they would like to be added to your monthly email list. Don't just start sending a barrage of email to every person that you come in contact with. Make sure that the person indicated their interest in what you have to offer first, or your contact will become quickly unwanted.
Whether you have a booth, are one of the presenters, or are simply attending a trade show, you have an excellent potential opportunity similar to networking events, but on a much greater scale. Organizing the follow-ups to people you actually spoke to yourself then adding the person to your personal contact list is a given. The general information requests gathered by associates at your booth can be handled in a similar way. Lastly, you may have organized giveaway or contest to gather more leads at the show. These people are frequently less interested in what you have to say, and more interested in whatever they might be getting or winning. As a result, it may require secondary contact to obtain the permission to add them to your regular communications. In general, hitting contest winners with a "hard sell" is not usually effective.
Organizing informational seminars is a great way to build a healthy relationship with prospects and potential referrers. One effective technique is to have advance registration and to ask permission to send regular emails at that time. This way, even if the person is not able to attend the seminar, you still have an opportunity to stay in touch with them. After all, they were interested enough to register for the seminar.
Concerts, parties, art openings, or any other occasion that gathers people together provide an opportunity to build your email address lists. Having a registration or check-in location, or associates with clipboards working the room are just two ways to make contact. In the case of events, it is a good idea to offer some kind of incentive to boost signups. However, make sure that the person can only receive the incentive via email. This way, you will improve the quality and accuracy of the lists you are collecting.
Post Cards/Direct Mail
When a company has an existing database of postal addresses, direct mail may be the best way to get the email addresses of your existing customers and prospects. Again, offering an incentive always helps stimulate a greater response and is particularly effective when there is a pre-existing relationship. This helps increase the typical response rate of converting postal address recipients to email recipients. Publish a specific website address on your mailing to direct people to a landing page with the list signup form on your site.