This entry is part 11 of 21 in the series Marketing Your Business On The Internet

“66% of those surveyed said they had made a purchase because of a marketing message received through email.”
– ExactTarget, “2008 Channel Preference Survey”

Every page on your website should have an opt-in form where people can sign up to receive your emails. While text messages, Facebook and various other methods of contacting customers are important, email is still one of the most widely used technologies on the internet.

Virtually everybody has an email address, and by building a list of your customers’ names and email addresses, you can keep in touch with them on a regular basis to keep your company at the top of their mind.

You can send various things via email:

• Upcoming promotions
• Coupons
• Newsletter
• How-to information
• Anything else that would be relevant to your customers

Unlike flyers or other types of advertising, email doesn’t have a per-message cost. Whether you send 20 emails a month or 2,000 emails a month, your cost isn’t going to change by much, if at all.

What that means for you is that you can send an email as often as you like, and you can do it on short notice. So if you have a special event coming up or some other special promotion that you want to remind your customers about, it’s just a matter of writing a quick email and sending it out to them a couple of days ahead of the event.

But it’s not just a tool for sending special promotions like this. You can also use what’s called an “autoresponder” to automate a certain amount of your email contact.

When a customer signs up to receive your emails, an autoresponder service will automatically send a certain number of messages at whatever interval you want. This lets you queue up a number of emails that will go out to your customers with absolutely no effort on your part.

You can use these emails to educate your customers about the products or services you offer, educate them about how to use those same products or services, or even just send monthly reminders that you are there to help if they need it.

You could even use it to send reminders of appointments or other due dates. For example, a dentist’s office could send a reminder via email a day or two ahead of a scheduled appointment (not to mention a text message with the same information the day of the appointment) or a car dealer could send a reminder that it’s time for the next oil change at the proper time following a customer’s last visit.

And perhaps best of all, email is a two-way communication tool so you can even use it to ask your customers for feedback. There are various ways to take advantage of this:

• Ask them what their biggest questions are about the products you sell, so you can tailor your advertising and other promotions to answer those questions.
• Ask them what products or services they want or need that you don’t currently offer.
• Get feedback and testimonials from them that you can use in future promotions

When you do this, you’re not going to get responses from every customer who receives your email. In fact, you may only receive a couple of responses. But the responses you do get could help you make a lot more profit simply by providing the products or services that your customers are actually looking for.

How do you get people to sign up to receive your emails? There are various strategies that will work.

If you deal with people in person in your business, such as a retail shop or restaurant for example, you can have a computer or a portable device such as an iPad where people can enter their name and email address right at the point of sale.

This is considerably more effective than the low-tech method still used by a lot of businesses – a notebook and pen. Why have your customer write their name and email address in a notebook when you can have them enter it directly into a lead-capture form on a computer? This puts them directly into your email service’s database so you don’t have to manually enter that information yourself.

Plus, if you use a device like an iPad you’ll often get even more people who will sign up to receive your emails because they want to “play” with the device a bit. Even if it’s just a matter of entering their information on your lead capture form, the novelty is still there.

Another effective way to get people to sign up to receive your emails is on your website itself. Add a lead capture form (known as an “optin box”) to every page on your website so people can enter their name and email address no matter what page they might be looking at.

To increase the number of people who sign up to receive your emails, you can offer them some sort of incentive for doing so. This could be something like a free report or white paper that will help educate them about the products or services you offer, or it could be some sort of special offer or coupon that gets sent to them automatically after they sign up to receive your emails.

Or you could do both to improve your conversions even further. Offering a report or white paper has another advantage as well – you can use it to promote all the reasons why a potential customer would want to deal with your business as opposed to your competition.

That’s not to say you need to badmouth your competitors. Just explain why your company is their best choice, and what unique benefits you can offer. If you provide them with a report that helps them learn more about what you have to offer them, and then include a bit of a sales pitch at the end, it can generate a lot of new customers for your company.

You can also use what is known as an “exit popup” on your website. This is a popup window that gets displayed when someone goes to leave your website. This popup can make essentially the same offer as the optin forms on every other page of your website, but it has been proven that these popup windows are more effective at convincing visitors to sign up for your email list.

The worst case is they will leave without signing up, but they were leaving your website anyway so why not make one last attempt at capturing their contact information?

Another way to get people to sign up to receive your emails is to use other advertising media to help promote it. If you send out flyers, include a brief call to action on each one letting people know they can sign up to receive special offers and other information by email by visiting your website. If you want to continue running Yellow Page ads even after reading this book, include that same call to action in your ad the next time you renew and have the opportunity to change it.

You could even add a message to the end of every customer receipt or invoice, asking them to sign up for your emails at your website.

Treat this email list as a valuable part of your business – because it is – and promote it anywhere and everywhere you can.

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Joe Ditzel is a copywriter, marketing consultant and award-winning public speaker. He is the founder of Vast Media Empire, a network of technology, business, information and entertainment websites. Contact Joe at joe@ditzelandco.com or connect on: LinkedIn Facebook Twitter Google+

Email Marketing: How To Build Client Relationships
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