Question: What is the best way to start building my small business’s e-mail marketing list?
No. 1: Don’t ask for too much personal information.
You wouldn’t ask people you had just met at a cocktail party for their home address and household income, so don’t do it online either. Start by only asking for e-mail address and name. Later, after you have earned their trust, you can fill in the rest of their demographic information. Be patient. Just like friendships, it takes time to get a clear picture of who your best customers are and what exactly they want out of your newsletter and Web site.
No. 3: Collect e-mail addresses off-line.
If you have a storefront, this is a great place to collect e-mail addresses. Place a fishbowl or basket at the front desk, promoting a raffle for a free lunch, product or trip, for visitors to drop their business cards in. Trade shows and networking events are also great places to collect business cards and e-mail addresses, just be sure you have permission to e-mail your new contacts.
No. 4: Make the incentive to join clear.
Your e-mail newsletter must have some type of incentive for users to join as well as to stay on your list. Incentives don’t always have to be a coupon or product giveaway. Great content is a very effective incentive as well. Some ideas for effective newsletter content include upcoming event information or industry statistics or news.
Written by Holly Berkley, the chief executive officer and director of Internet marketing for Vantage Internet Services Inc., a San Diego-based Internet marketing, Web site design and technology solutions company. To learn more, visit www.vantageinternet.com.