It really doesn’t matter whether your business is online or offline. Building a responsive list of prospects and customers is one of the most effective things you can do to grow a real business. Too often the focus in small business is to chase more customers. There is, of course, a need to win new business, always. What is neglected in the rush though is losing sight of what enables a business to grow.
Good, profitable businesses have continuity of revenue, and in a majority of cases, the owners have structured their business model to incorporate recurring revenue from their customer list or database. Once this is done the revenue streams become, well, predictable. Predictable in this context is good.
The intention is also customer retention. Keeping your customers and minimising the attrition that is inherent in any business. You worked hard and spent marketing dollars to win those customers or leads! You cannot maximise your revenue when your customers are leaving in droves.
So, how do you achieve this? How do you build an email list or increase the size of your current list? Mind you, the size of the list is not what is important. The important point is whether the list is made up of targeted and responsive prospects or customers.
Can you imagine sending out an email to your list of 300 customers with an offer and seeing a boost in your revenue every month? This is very doable.
An email list is something you should consider building. Email marketing to a targeted list can be very effective and extremely low cost compared to other forms of marketing. Building the structure necessary to make list building part and parcel of your business will take time, money and effort. The payoff though is huge.
You will need the following main components in place to create your list building/marketing funnel.
You need a central hub to send leads and prospects to. In most cases it will be your website or a platform such as LeadPages.com. This platform can be used to create stand alone squeeze pages or sales pages if you do not have a website.
You can send traffic from social media, your networking activities, your speaking gigs or advertising channels. Your website should serve you as a silent sales person, collection email information and engaging visitors. How to create a website that does all that is the subject of a whole other article!
Having a website (and your back end analytics set up) for the mouth of your funnel allows you to measure visitor numbers, which pages they view and stay on and how long they stayed.
The Ethical Bribe
This is an offer of free services, a video, an audio file or checklist/report that is of interest to your target audience. You feature this on your website and in exchange for the gift you request the visitors email address and first name.
Let’s look at an example of this….
This is the home page of a site named backlinko.com. The ethical bribe is in the form of traffic tips and SEO strategies that visitors would be very interested in learning.
By entering their details the visitor has shown they are within the target market audience for this company. The offering must be in context of your business services or product. You wouldn’t offer a free report on how to minimise your tax if you were a web designer!
The Stay In Touch Mechanism
Once you have a prospect on your list you need to have a schedule of communication that will be invoked. This is best automated to save time and effort. You can manually enter information into a spreadsheet – but an autoresponder is better!
Autoresponders are software platforms that store your visitor email details. They create a database that you can market to. Three good services are:
They are very affordable, although once you get more than 500 contacts on your list, they do rise in price incrementally. The beauty of these services is that they have functions that allow you to send email messages to your whole list on a schedule you define. You can also send one off broadcasts and newsletters.
The emails you schedule should contain 80 % valuable content and 20% information regarding your services or product. Clients or prospects receiving your emails won’t mind a little promotional content occasionally.
You can incorporate news about your company, new hires, upcoming events, invitations to get together, special offers and discounts. You can even include surveys.
One way of packaging this information is in the form of a newsletter. The better autoresponder services enable you to build your own newsletters within their platform, then broadcast them to your list. No more expensive printed versions!
Yes, that’s right. Have offers to make to your list. Don’t be shy. If you have researched your customers and know what they desire, you can design great offers that bundle up services, products or products with associated services.
Businesses, such as restaurants, could offer specials to their list that are redeemable on the quite nights early in the week. This can generate business that smooths out the dips in cash flow and keeps some businesses viable.
An accountant could send out a newsletter that contains an offer for a cashflow report service prior to the end of the quarter. A web designer could offer a “Homepage Makeover” package….
The saying goes “The money is in the list”. This is only partially correct. The real gold is in the relationship you build with your list. You are aware of the need for your target market to know, like and trust you. These factors are not built over night.
Resisting the urge to rush in and sell to your list takes discipline. Planning in how you are going to nurture your list is required. The goal is to build and maintain your list and the relationship long into the future.
Do this right and you will minimise your attrition rate, grow your revenues and increase your business’ value.