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Got a Store? Build Your Email List!

by Amelia Penner & James Shaw

With a bit of creativity and effort, you can have a list of 1000's of people to stay in touch with via email.  Best of all, it's really cheap!

All companies should have a database of clients and prospective clients that they use for newsletters, promotions, etc.  When using your list to send out announcements or run a promotion, its success is only as good as the people in your database.  This can be a challenge if you are new to collecting customer's information or if you are dragging around a list that you created years ago. Here are some tips on how to build up your email list:

1.   Customers - a natural place to start

If you are not already collecting your customer's information, start!  People who have previously purchased from you, and have had a positive experience, are likely to come back again. You can easily get their information from them as they make their purchase by asking for their name, number, and email address.  Let them know that you will be using their email to sign them up for a newsletter filled with information and promotions that they may enjoy. In a retail store, you can also have a newsletter sign up as part of a comment form.  One local retail that we worked with built a list from 0 to 3000 subscribers using a simple in-store comment box/prize draw incentive.

2.   Connections - extend into your business network

Everyone has connections, whether family, friends, or suppliers.  Next time you are in contact with these people ask if they would be interested in receiving information about your business along with lots of exciting deals. When using these contacts to fill up your email list realize that they may not be as likely to respond to a campaign as a previous customer.  You can ensure a greater response by having great content and deals that bring them into your store.

3.   Prospects - not customers yet, but hopefully they will be!

People love contests because they love to get free stuff.  Next time you have a giveaway or promotion advertise it on your website and tell people about it on Facebook and Twitter.  As people sign up for the contest, have an option to opt into your newsletter. Not only does this allow you to see the success of your promotion, but you just gained a list of people who are interested in your company.  Now it is your job to turn them from a prospect into a customer.

4.   No Store?  No problem.

If you are in the B2B sector (business to business) and don't have a physical storefront, there are other tactics you can use to build your email list: Social Media: use network sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and industry blogs to create teasers that draw people back to a capture page.  Use the capture page to offer a free download (whitepaper, report, tool, widget) in exchange for their contact info. Host webinars or live chat opportunities that require people to register beforehand.  Now you'll have their contact info for follow-up later. Enter people that you meet at trade shows and networking events into your email database.  Send them a personal message letting them know it was great talking with them.  Later when you send your newsletter they'll recognize you and your company.

5.   List Management - it will manage you if you're not careful!

As your email database grows you'll want to manage it properly using the software. Segmenting your list into different groups for more targeted email blasts will become important. Managing unsubscribers is critical as well. Gathering statistics on how your emails are performing is really useful for tweaking and improving future communications. All of these features are available with email marketing software. Note: if people can not easily unsubscribe from your newsletter they will get angry!  Use email marketing software like Constant Contact, Vertical Response, or NEDmail and list management will be a cinch.

6.   Spamming - a fine line

In Canada, the SPAM laws are actually pretty relaxed.  You don't technically need consent to send someone an email, but be aware that many people will consider it SPAM and it will hurt your reputation if you continually send irrelevant junk.  Word will get around even faster if your market is local!  Be careful.  Be transparent, identify who you are, give a relevant subject line, allow people to opt-out or unsubscribe, and try to be a decent person in general. 

Check here for more info: Happy emailing! Comments or Questions?  We'd love to hear them!