Every time I see an e-mail sign-up sheet next to a cash register, I turn the other way and praise myself for not falling into a spam trap. I’ve been burned far too many times and now keep my personal e-mail under lock and key.
Unfortunately, this isn’t good news for business owners. E-mail marketing campaigns are integral to even the smallest of businesses. They help raise awareness about products or services and secure a connection to customers in a fast and easy manner.
So how do you grow your database when you have customers like me?
Here are a few tips:
Provide a real service
“You have to give to get,” says Susan Negen, president of WhizBang! Training, a retail consultancy based in Grand Haven, Michigan. “If you are a gardener or a florist, for example, maybe write a mini e-book about things to do for your garden in the summer. Then only offer the book to those people who give you their e-mail addresses.”
Start a frequent buyer program
These are especially effective for those patrons that come into your store often or those you think would like to come in more if they received exclusive discounts.
“Offer your frequent buyers a drawing for a shopping spree every month,” recommends Negen. “Tell them the winner gets notified by e-mail, so it is a good idea to sign up.”
Negen says every small business should have a frequent buyer program.
“A lot of people think they are too complicated to set up, but they really aren’t,” she says. “Start a program like this and you’ll be surprised at how many people sign up to get deals and win prizes. One of our clients signed up 20,000 people in one year.”
Solve a problem
Matt Carroll is the head consultant at Placeworld Marketing, an e-mail marketing consultancy in Whittier, California. He firmly believes that small business owners can build their databases by providing solutions to customer’s problems.
“Analyze your target market and determine what keeps them up at night,” he says. “Then, try to solve those problems in each one of your e-mails. That way, you are providing a service.”
Negen agrees, adding, “Small business owners need to think about what the customer wants. For example, if you own a toy store, your real customers are the parents, not the kids. Find out what concerns them.
“Send out tips on parenting or information on a new Lego museum. Then add in what Legos you have in your store for the budding Lego artist.”
Stick to the 80/20 rule
“Your e-mail marketing mailings should be about 80 percent relationship building and 20 percent about the products or services you offer,” Negen says. “When you send out newsletters, stick to short bursts."
“Show them a printed example of your newsletter and explain that if they sign up, it's what they are going to get,” Negen says. “If you can show a sample, the customer will usually soften.”
Talk about privacy