One way to keep your customers happy is to provide them with information and offers they’re actually seeking. For that reason, you should be building and maintaining a list of customers eager to hear from you by email. Handled well, email list development can be a sales engine like no other; handled poorly, it can cause no end of headaches. Luckily, doing it right isn’t difficult.
• Follow the “Golden Rule.” Only send email to people who have asked for it. Not only is this good advice; it is the law. Avoid shortcuts such as buying mailing lists, using other business’s lists, or mining your personal email contacts. “Creating a really effective subscriber list doesn’t happen overnight,” cautions Laurel Delaney, founder of Chicago-based consultancy GlobeTrade, which publishes two email newsletters to a diverse business clientele. “It takes time to develop a following, and you have to market it at every opportunity.” To be safe, ask people to confirm their desire to join your email database (known as “double opt-in”), and make it easy for people to remove themselves whenever they choose.
• Use an email service provider. Growing and maintaining an email list can seem complicated, but you’re not on your own. Email service providers (ESPs) such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, and Vertical Response handle nitty-gritty details to ensure that your list remains squeaky-clean. Also, while many internet providers forbid mass emails, ESPs can send out as many as you need, and some have a free tier for mailing lists under a certain threshold.
• Just ask. Ask people to sign up. If you have a brick-and-mortar operation, prominently display a sign-up form, and train your staff to ask at every appropriate opportunity. Include email sign-up information on everything (bills, brochures, etc.). Include a form on your website as well as on any social media accounts you have. Keep it simple: email address and first name, so you can customize your message. “I gather email addresses at conferences, speaking engagements, and face-to-face meetings,” Delaney adds.
• Keep it clean. Make sure the addresses on your list remain valid and that people still want to receive your emails. ESPs make sure those who have unsubscribed remain on a permanent “do not send” list and remove undeliverable email addresses. But do your part by sending out emails on a regular basis. People often forget they’ve signed up for a mailing list, so your list can become stale in as little as six months.
• Match your email addresses to your domain name. Once an email is sent, an address that aligns with your site’s company and/or domain name shows recipients that it comes from a site or location they know and trust. This may, in turn, improve both your open rates and image. Business Optimum 60 and 100 internet, for example, let you enhance your business’s image with up to 15 email addresses for everyone in your company.
Developing a viable email list is critical to building your customer base. By doing it the right way, you’ll help ensure that every email you send is eagerly awaited.
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