You need an email list. Plain and simple.
“But Angelica, I can barely keep up my business let alone invest time in social media and now an email list.”
And to that I say, “Rock on with your bad self. But you still have to do it.”
Think about it – what if social media dissolved tomorrow? You’d have no way of contacting your customers that you’ve worked hard to cultivate and turn into fans. That’s why it’s important to have an email list.
Still not convinced? I figured it would take more than 150 words…
Okay. Let’s pretend (and Lord help us, I hope it’s only pretending because I’d be lost without planner pictures on Instagram #planneraddict) that social media did go poof. What are you going to do? You still have to reach your customers.
Let’s chat a little about why it’s important to have a list and a sure-fire way to gather quality addresses.
In case you missed it the first 50 times I’ve said it in this post already: your mailing list is the most direct link to your customers, readers, etc. Facebook algorithms change and posts may not get seen, tweets will fly by, but an email will wait for a customer in their inbox until they’re ready to open it. Unfortunately, there isn’t that kind of guarantee on social media.
Additionally, social media is social. It should be all about cultivating relationships and sharing things that will enrich your customers’ lives. Pushing product promotions (especially in a sales-y style) is a great way to turn people off.
Emails, on the other hand, are expected to have some promotional element. Sure you can get a little more personal here since it’s a one on one connection, but you can still use email to talk about yourself, what you’re up to, any promotions you have going on, etc. Just be sure to provide some value to your customer — like a promo code or special offer — if you’re getting really personal.
So what if you don’t have a huge email list?
Well, think about something: your email list is representative of your customer base. I’m willing to bet all the coffee in Pittsburgh you don’t have 10 million customers. If you do, again, rock on with your bad self. You should start a blog and teach us your tricks.
Anyway, I’m betting you don’t have millions of loyal customers (yet) so why would you expect your email list to be that large as well? Focus on cultivating a list full of people who hang on your every word. It’s best to have an army of loyal fans who tell everyone they meet about how awesome you are (however small it may be) instead of a network of acquaintances who are pretty meh about it.
The easiest way to grow your email list is to talk about the benefits of signing up.
I don’t go on a website thinking, “I can’t wait to sign up for their mailing list!” I find something useful that I want, see the benefits of being part of this group, and get sucked in.
I bet your customers aren’t asking you at the register if you have a mailing list they can join. You have to tell them about it.
When shoppers in your store are checking out, talk to them about your email list. Explain what they can expect when they sign up. Will they receive a bi-weekly email featuring new products, tips for using your products in an unexpected way, and a special coupon on their birthday? Focus in on “What’s in it for me” aka: how your customer’s lives will be enriched by signing up.
Are you online only? Offer a freebie (discount code, printable, etc) in exchange for an email. Oh, and still tell your customers what to expect!
And don’t forget to follow through on those promises.
Finally, make it painfully easy for customers to sign up. If you’re in store, type the address into your POS system for them instead of spinning your iPad around on the counter for them to do it. Have a prominent sign up box in the sidebar of your website or use something like SumoMe to have a sticky bar follow customers around (nicely, not like an annoying gnat).
Basically, don’t rely on your customer to seek out your email list – bring it to their attention. Schedule a Facebook post with a link to your sign up form right before you have an email scheduled to go out. This will work as a teaser and may catch some customers who have FOMO (AKA: Fear Of Missing Out).
Now that people have entrusted you with their email address, treat them like the VIP gang that they are. They’ve trusted you with their inbox, after all!