It amazes me that more of my clients don’t ask me about how to build an email list for their business. Although the majority of them are interested in getting potential customers to contact them, few of them are interested in building an email list that they can contact and follow-up with. And that’s a shame.
Building an email list is perhaps the most important task you will undertake in the course of marketing your small business. The reasons I say this are numerous, but I’ve boiled them down to what I believe to be the top five reasons you need to build an email list. And if you’re an email marketing skeptic, I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that you become a true believer by the end of this post.
Reason #1: Sales Lead Generation
Email leads are some of the best leads you can acquire for your business. Why? Because these are people who have raised their hands and said, “Yes, I’d like to know more about what you offer and how it can benefit me personally.” Boy howdy, what more could you ask for as a small business owner or service professional? For this reason alone I believe that email lead generation should be at the heart of your small business marketing strategy. If it’s not, I suggest you make it so immediately.
Reason #2: Cost-Effectiveness
Short of word-of-mouth, email marketing remains the most cost-effective way to market your business, period. Cost of acquisition for email leads is negligible if done properly (a topic I’ll cover in future posts). And it literally costs just pennies each time you send out an email message to your list. Compare this to direct mail and you can easily see why it makes sense to invest time and effort into building an email list.
Reason #3: The Real Profits Are In The Follow-Up
Anyone who has ever been in sales knows that the real profits are in the follow-up. Rarely will a consumer make a major purchase decision on their first contact with a business or brand; savvy sales people know that it’s typically only after they make a connection and develop a relationship with a brand or business that they buy. And following up with your contact list when your competition can’t or won’t is perhaps the best way to make that connection with a potential customer.
Not only that, but the follow-up is also where you generate repeat business. And in my experience, following up with your customers via regular and consistent email contact is the easiest and most cost-effective way to keep your business and brand in the forefront of their minds. This increases the odds that they’ll come back to you when it’s time to make another purchase… so long as you honor and respect their trust in sharing their personal contact information with you (more on that in future posts).
Reason #4: Automation
Web-based email software applications make it easy to automate the task of following up with your email contacts. In fact, automation is one of the features that makes email marketing so cost-effective. Think about all the time it would take to prepare a follow-up direct mail campaign to your house list. Now, contrast that with having the ability to prepare a series of prewritten emails that you simply load into your email autoresponder system in a single afternoon… scheduling them to be sent out over a period of days or weeks automatically with just a few clicks. There’s simply no comparison.
Reason #5: Relationship Marketing
Relationship marketing is a marketing philosophy that emphasizes customer retention over a hard-sell approach. As I mentioned earlier, relationships are key to both making the initial sale and developing a strong repeat customer base. Moreover, consumer research has shown that the public is gradually becoming more cautious and skeptical of online marketing, making it essential for you to master the zen of relationship marketing.
Years ago (like 1999-near-birth-of-the-internet ago), author Seth Godin recognized this trend and introduced the concept of permission marketing versus interruption marketing. Email marketing is permission-based marketing, meaning, it’s marketing that by its very nature allows you to overcome the trust barrier with potential customers. In my estimation, that makes it a crucial component of relationship marketing, and an undeniable reason to add it to your marketing quiver.
So, Tell Me Something…
I believe we can all learn from the experiences of others, and I’m curious to hear about your experiences with email list building and marketing. So if you care to share your own experiences with email marketing and list building, please do so in the comments below.