Unless your calendar is stuck on 1997, you will be aware that permission email marketing is the only way to play the game in the 21st century. The era of blasting emails to every address your freeware harvester spider could dredge up is long gone and the only legitimate way to conduct a campaign these days is to ensure that your customer has given you clear and unequivocal permission before you start. This prospect seems to befuddle many small business owners who operate primarily in the non-cyber world, but there are some easy, effective ways to obtain email newsletter permission from your customers.
A question that can stymie many small businesses is exactly how to propose in order to get those prospects to say “I Do!” Businesses that primarily operate online find it somewhat easier than their brethren who are still in the brick & mortar world. Online businesses can compile subscriber email addresses by driving their traffic towards their subscription forms. The simple act of dangling a special discount coupon or a sneak peek on a hot new product line is usually enough to convince website visitors to sign up for their periodical newsletter. Some of the most effective tactics include:
Offer a Prize for Business Cards
Every business should have a drop box for business cards next to its checkout counter, and the incentives should be clearly marked. Providing the winner of the periodic draw with a free product or service, usually in the retail price range of around $100, will ensure that the box gets stuffed with business cards on a continual basis. It is absolutely imperative that you note that any customer submitting their business card will be placed on your newsletter subscription list and that if they do not want to receive any emails they must write prominently on their cards the words: No Email. Federal regulations for auditing customer permission are getting tighter every year, so you would be well advised to take a photograph of the box with the sign on it and keep it safely stored along with each and every business card you collect. This way you will be able to clearly prove that permission was granted.
Ask for a Subscription in Each Customer Contact
No matter how your customers interact with your business, your employees must be meticulously trained to ask for a subscription. This question may be posed at the checkout counter, on the phone, or at any other time that your staff is in contact with customers. Although not all customers will be willing to provide their email addresses, each instance where your personnel fails to ask for their subscription is an opportunity that is missed.
Provide a Freebie for an Email Address
Giving a completely free product or service in exchange for subscribing to the emailed newsletter is a very effective strategy that can quickly build your list. A restaurant may offer a free appetizer or dessert with the meal; a clothing store can give an accessory; or a mechanic can provide a free filter with the oil change. Whatever your business, you will not be hard pressed to find some relatively minor SKU you can give away in order to gain that customer’s email address. Ensure that the address is keyed into your computer before the transaction is completed to avoid duplicates.
Whenever you are exhibiting in a trade show, market or fair you should engage your customers directly to solicit email addresses. If you are providing samples you can make them contingent on an email address entered into your guestbook, or offer incentives like a test drive or a photo with your booth’s hot show girl.
Most businesses still do not have their primary base of operations on the internet, so many may think that it is nearly impossible to compile a permission email marketing list in “the real world.” Not only is this conclusion fully erroneous, but these small business owners do not realize that in many ways building a healthy subscription list of email addresses is often easier offline than on!
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