Why You Need a Mailing List for your Local Business
Do you have an email list for your local business? If you’re like a lot of business owners, the answer is no. You might think you don’t need one, or that you simply don’t have the time to make use of it.
The truth is that building an email list is easy and inexpensive, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming if you have the right tools to manage it.
Benefits of Having an Email List
If you’re wondering why you need an email list, here are a few of the benefits of having one:
- It gives you a simple, inexpensive way to communicate with your customers.
- It makes it easy to segment your list and market to the people who are most likely to buy a particular product.
- It can help you learn more about your customers. If you send out emails about different products and one gets a lot more attention than the other, it can help you grow your business and give your customers what they want.
- It increases name recognition and keeps you at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
- It increases sales.
Not only is it a good idea to have an email list, it would be a mistake not to have one.
A recent study shows that customers who receive email newsletters spend 82% more when they buy from the company. (iContact) and 7 in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the last 7 days. (Blue Kangaroo)
How to Get People to Sign up for Your List
Getting people to sign up for your email list might seem like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Of course, some of your customers may be reluctant to give you their email address, but here are some ways to incentivize them to sign up:
- Ask them for their email address when they check out, and tell them they’ll get a coupon or special offer if they do.
- Put a postcard with your website and a description of the benefits of joining your list in their shopping bags.
- Offer special incentives such as sneak-preview sales, coupons, and other perks that will be available only to your subscribers.
- Post information about your list and the incentives of signing up on your social media accounts.
- After you have a list started, include a “Share this” button at the bottom of your emails to make it easy for your current subscribers to share your offer with their friends.
As a rule, people love to get special incentives and behind the scenes information. One of the main reasons people follow their favorite brands on social media is to get exclusive content, and you can use that preference to build your email list, too.
If you have a website, it is important to have an opt-in form for your email list there. People who visit your site are already interested in what you are offering. One question a lot of business owners have is “Where should I put the opt-in form on my website?” Here are some tips:
- People tend to read web pages in an “F” pattern. That means that putting your opt-in form at the top of the page or along the left margin increases the chances that it will be seen.
- When people have skimmed the top of your page, they often scroll down to the very bottom. The footer of your page is another good location for your form.
- If you have a blog, put an opt-in form at the bottom of your blog posts. People who are reading your blog are already interested in your content, and it’s a natural place to have them sign up for your list
- Finally, you might consider using a feature box. That’s a highlighted, boxed off section in the middle of other content that asks people to opt-in to your list.
Any one of the above suggestions will help increase the chances that visitors to your site will sign up for your list.
How to Use Your List
Once you have started to build your list, it’s time to find some ways to use it. The point of having an email list is to engage your customers and provide them with valuable content and information. The more useful they feel your emails are, the more likely they will be to stay subscribed and share your emails with others.
There are a lot of different ways you can use your list. For example, you might segment your list and use it to market to specific categories of customers. Imagine you own an apparel store that sells clothes for men and women. You might ask customers to choose which products they want to hear about in email, and then add customers to segmented lists based on their responses.
Another good way to use your mailing list is to announce the arrival of new products in your store. If you just got something exciting, you can email your list to let them know about it. You can think about including a short video. The arrival of a new product might be the ideal opportunity to share a how-to video, or even a simple unboxing video to show customers what they will get if they buy your product.
One of the best things about email lists is that they can help you grow your business. You can use your email list to send out information about sales and special offers. You can even offer customers on your list a special preview sale or sneak peek at a new product. A lot of local business owners hold regular events for people who subscribe to their mailing lists. It’s a great way to make customers feel they are getting a unique opportunity, and to get them into your store at the same time.
Get creative with your mailing list. There are lots of things you can do to make receiving an email from you a fun and rewarding experience.
Tools to Manage Your Email List
Some local business owners hesitate to set up an email list because they think they’ll have to spend a lot of time managing it. It’s an understandable concern, especially if you are already working full time and managing social media accounts. The good news is that there are many tools available that will help you manage your list and get emails sent out in a timely manner.
MailChimp has free and premium versions of their service. The free version allows you to manage a list with as many as 2,000 subscribers. You can set up your list, customize sign-up forms, and use their templates to create professional-looking emails. Their premium options offer additional features including list segmentation and A/B testing.
ConstantContact is another great tool for managing your email list. They offer a free, 60-day trial and affordable plans. The basic plan includes all the list management tools you will need, including mobile apps and social sharing. The premium plan adds email automation, additional storage, customer surveys, and trackable coupons.
Either one of these tools will help you manage your list in a professional and affordable way. I personally use Aweber which I find is the most reliable but on the higher price end. There is a free 30 day trial as well. It can have a bit of a learning curve if you want to do some of the fancier “stuff”
Automation is an especially nice benefit because it lets you write and set up emails in advance and send them out at pre-set intervals. That means that a lot of your email marketing can be as easy as “set it and forget it.” Every business owner can appreciate that.
Setting up an email list doesn’t have to be complicated and it can garner you some very impressive benefits in terms of increased customer engagement and higher sales.
Networking is creating a foundation of connections that can boost your business, motivate and support you with all of your efforts. If you're an entrepreneur or business owner, you never want to operate alone.
Having people surround you who can motivate and inspire you, as well as share knowledge that can catapult you to the forefront of your niche – is always a good idea.
You don't want all of your networking efforts to be in just one area (such as list building) – because that can narrow the positive benefits for yourself and the people with whom your connecting.
You want to networking with people who excel in a myriad of ways, so that you can learn from all of them and bring your business to a higher level. How you connect to these people should also vary.
You can connect with face-to-face encounters in your personal and professional life. You can make connections on social media sites, through email contact or on forums.
You can connect with a network both far and near by text or by phone calls, too. The sea of networking is a vast, endless supply of connections just waiting to be tapped into by anyone willing to put in a little effort.
Why You Need to Network
While being a solo entrepreneur sounds wonderful, it can also put a lot of pressure on you because you don't have a support system or team of individuals to help you succeed. (more…)
I recently did a video addressing some of the concerns that women have on LinkedIn for my 15 Day Challenge. Some women are reluctant to put their picture up because they're afraid of what kind of response it is going to get.
Or they refuse to put in their email and contact information with a call to action.
Or they'll adopt the strategy where only people they know can find them.
Or they may put up other security restrictions on their profile that make it more difficult to identify who they really are.
All of these things defeat the very purpose of LinkedIn! It's a professional business networking tool and yet I understand that women are afraid sometimes that they're going to be slightly harassed.
It is hard to keep track of how the social media landscape seems to be changing constantly. New media sites don’t pop up every day, but our perception of them is always shifting. The same is true of the general public. You might feel like you need to maintain a presence on every social media site from Facebook to Instagram, but guess what?
You don’t. Not by a long shot.
In fact, it could be detrimental to your business to do that. Your target audience might be very active on Pinterest and Facebook and never give Twitter a second glance.
The trick is knowing which platforms are most likely to bear fruit – and which are better left alone. Here are some things that can help.
Understand the Key Attributes of Each Platform
Each social media platform has unique qualities. Sometimes the benefits of one platform overlap with another and sometimes, they don’t. Here’s a rundown of each platform’s marketing value as we see it.
Facebook is still the biggest social media platform. That means that you’re likely to find a significant percentage of your target audience there. In most cases, choosing just one social media site for marketing probably means choosing Facebook.
Facebook is ideal for brand-building, establishing yourself as an authority in your industry or niche, and strengthening customer loyalty. It’s easy to share an array of content, including written, visual, and video content.
Of course, arguable Facebook’s biggest strength in terms of marketing is its advertising options. You can easily segment your target audience, run ads, view detailed analytics, and adjust as needed.
Twitter is built for instant communications. It’s the perfect place to share updates with your followers, create an immediate give-and-take, and release company news without relying on the media.
Twitter’s use of hashtags also makes it easy to track your company’s mentions and trending topics. Many companies have integrated their customer service with their Twitter accounts to provide immediate support when it’s needed.
Pinterest focuses on visual content and is a great platform for driving users back to your blog or website. They also have an option that allows retailers to sell directly on Pinterest.
The ability to create micro-targeted boards and use hashtags can make it easy to ensure that people in your target audience see the content you create.
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual platform where you can share photographs and videos of your products or services. It has a slightly more casual feel that the other sites we’ve mentioned so far and that can be useful for some brands because it can help them connect with customers.
Instagram is also a good place for user-generated content. For example. Starbucks uses Instagram every year for its White Cup Contest, where it asks users to decorate a plain white Starbucks cup with a unique design. The contest winner’s design is manufactured each year and available as a limited-run product in stores.
LinkedIn is the best social media platform for B2B marketers. It’s where you can share relevant blog posts, connect with other leaders in your industry, and make the kinds of connections that can help your business grow.
You can target LinkedIn users by their industry and job title, as well as by using traditional keywords. Sharing information about your business is a good way to build credibility and trust.
What does a European Union law about privacy have to do with your small business?
That might seem like a ridiculous question to ask, but it’s not.
The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short, went into effect on month ago today on May 25, 2018. And with privacy issues in the news on a near-daily basis, with the recent Congressional hearings about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, you can’t afford to ignore the ramifications of GDPR for your business.
You could keep your head buried in the sand – but that’s not a good idea. Here’s what you need to know about GDPR.
GDPR is a law that was designed to standardize data privacy in the European Union’s member countries. It represents a big chance – and a victory for EU citizens, who can now be confident that their data will be secure and that the regulations used to ensure its security are transparent.
On the flip side, EU-based businesses have had to scramble to be compliant with the new rules. The biggest requirement involves Personal Identification Information, or PII. PII is sometimes used as a general term in the United States to describe personal information that companies might collect and store on behalf of their customers.
While PII has traditionally included information like Social Security numbers and addresses, the GDPR expands the definition of PII to include other things. For example:
- Web data, including the user’s location, IP address, cookies, and RFID tags
- Medical and genetic data, including medical records, test results, and DNA
- Biometric data, including fingerprints and other unique identifiers
- Racial and ethnic data
- Political opinions and orientation
- Sexual orientation
In other words, companies in the EU must now protect their customers’ IP addresses and other information collected online with the same care that they would financial information. It further requires that organizations:
- Store and process personal data only with an individual’s explicit consent
- Hold data for only as long as it is necessary to do so
- Destroy stored data upon request
There’s no denying that the implementation of GDPR represents a big change for EU companies.