Quick question: Is the number-one marketing tool to grow your small business: a) Facebook, b) Google+, or c) Email?
If you guessed email, you’re correct. While social media platforms like Facebook and Google+ continue to be the focal point for many marketers, email is still the best method when it comes to growing your small business. In fact, when a group of small-business owners were recently asked which marketing activities they find most effective, 83 percent had email marketing at the top of their lists. Email remains the preferred method of communication among consumers. Why? Because they have control over it. They can choose to act on it, ignore it, delete it or opt out of it entirely.
When done right, email is the most cost-efficient marketing tool for engaging customers between visits. But email can go wrong. If your email marketing is not handled well, you can wind up alienating your audience. The one nonnegotiable rule when it comes to email marketing? Always ask permission before you add a new contact to your list. Permission-based email marketing allows you to engage a smaller group of interested customers and steadily build your business through dedicated subscribers who will refer you to their contacts. When asking permission, be sure to emphasize what’s in it for the reader, such as insider deals, private events and access to premium content. How to Develop 5 Great Marketing Habits
To build your business, here are 10 proven approaches to growing your email subscriber base. 1. Continually learn about your audience.
Ask what they like and track which articles they read. From there, segment different groups of customers according to purchases and interests and develop content to appeal specifically to those subgroups. 2. Add social sharing buttons.
Adding these to your emails allows readers to easily pass along your content in Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. On your Facebook business page, be sure to insert a link to your online newsletter. 3. Offer a deal.
Structure that deal so subscribers will refer a new customer. 4. Make it easy to subscribe.
Ask for the customer’s email address only. 5. Share feedback from existing subscribers.
Hearing about the value others are getting from your emails will motivate new customers to sign up. 6. Use free apps.
QuickView allows you to easily collect email addresses when you’re at networking events. 7. Create a contest that rewards employees for boosting email subscribers.
Likewise, create a contest for customers and include an added incentive for new email subscribers. When those new subscribers sign up, be sure they receive a thank you message that includes a reward if one of their friends subscribes. 8. Partner with local merchants to host events online and in person.
You can also contribute to each other’s newsletters and distribute the content to both of your contact lists. 9. Don’t forget about your business cards.
Add a line to your b-cards and snail mail to encourage more subscribers. 10. Create a compelling poll and direct readers to respond on your Facebook page.
This will bring your customers together and attract a wider audience while sparking additional conversations. Also, the responses will be a great source of content for future newsletters. More ideas? Post them in the comments section below.Photo: iStockphoto