By Rebecca Swayze on February 28, 2011
Do it right and win new business
Email is an incredible marketing tool. With its widespread reach and potential for people to forward it on, email gives your business a way to connect with prospects and increase traffic to your website that no other marketing medium can offer.
Without a list of valid email addresses to send messages to, though, it’s hard to use email to market your products or services. It can be tempting to turn to shady ways of acquiring email addresses - including buying email lists - that can land you in email purgatory.
Fortunately, there are also lots of easy, legitimate ways to collect email addresses so you can reap the benefits of a well designed email marketing campaign. Here are some of the basics.
When a customer buys something at your physical store, make sure your staff ask if she'd like to sign up for your newsletter while she's paying. Keep a signup sheet close to the register, in plain sight, so people browsing your store can sign up even if they don’t make a purchase.
When you speak with clients on the phone, tell them about all the great information in your newsletter. Talking enthusiastically about your content will make your expertise clear, and will encourage people to give you their email addresses.
It takes just a few seconds to jot down an email address. If you make the ask five times a day for one work week, that’s 25 email addresses you didn’t have before you started, and 100 email addresses in just one month!
Put an Email Signup Form on Your Website
If you’re in a situation where you can’t write down an email address, direct people to your website. Make sure you have an email form on every page so anyone who happens to land on your site can sign up quickly and painlessly.
The signup process should be blatantly obvious, and tell people what to expect from your emails - both content and frequency. That way, they won't fear being spammed with something they don't want or need.Using a web form template can give your signup form a professional, polished look that complements your website design. There are some free form templates available on the Web.email marketing firm I work for offers a web form service for those who want convenience or are less technically inclined.
You should seriously consider using a popup form to collect addresses. While they’re not for everyone, popups and popovers have come a long way, and aren't as annoying and intrusive as they used to be. You now have a lot of control over their frequency and appearance, and you can even test different types of popups to see which ones work best for you.
Send Postcards Via Snail Mail
Michelle Kemp, a fan of AWeber on Facebook, swears by mailing postcards to prospects.
If you have a client's postal address, sending a handwritten note or postcard with a return address puts a human touch on your marketing. And you can still get their email address.
Nothing is more attractive to a potential customer than a free product or a glance at a service that they don’t have yet.
No matter what your newsletter is about, you are an expert in your field. Write up a quick guide to your industry and offer that for free. You could offer a free sample of your hot sauce or hair product, or send an exclusive MP3 download of your latest song. Whatever you offer, make sure the freebie is exclusive to people on your email list.
As long as your free gift is relevant to the content of your newsletter, it’s the perfect incentive for prospects who might be on the fence about signing up.
Link to a Form in Your Signature
How many people do you contact personally via email every day? These contacts might not be on your business email list yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t suggest they sign up to receive your email newsletter.
Simply include a link to your web form in your email signature. People can easily sign up to receive your emails without even closing your message.
Advertise On Everything You Print
Traditional print advertising can be costly. Small businesses especially should think twice before investing in print ads.
But you can certainly take advantage of the fact that printed materials make their way out of your office or store every day and into the homes of potential customers. Whether it’s your business card, a brown paper bag or a receipt, a printed reminder of your website could be the push someone needs to visit your site and fill out your email signup form.
You can comment on this article on AWeber's blog, where an earlier version is published.