Among the most common regrets of small business owners is not starting an email list for their company right away.
We all have lists to which we are subscribed. Maybe you subscribed to the email list for your favorite coffee shop to know when they are having deals. You might receive updates via email from your favorite sports team or even from a weather service.
What has become obvious as communication moves online is that you need to use email to get your message in front of your best customers .
Email is More Important than Social Media
It is a mistake to believe that building a social media following, like a Facebook group or a Twitter account, provides an adequate means of keeping in touch with your customers.
Social media sites can change their rules or disappear at any time, and you could lose your list of followers overnight.
In addition, the likelihood of your message reaching your fans on these sites is decreasing as the sites become more crowded.
Social media can be an effective way to interact with your customers, but it is secondary to email.
Why is Email so Great?
We have five considerations that make email stand out over any other form of online communication:
1. Email Gets Seen
How many times do you check your email each day?
Probably at least several times. Probably even dozens of times.
Do you at least look at the subject or sender of each email? Almost assuredly yes.
This means that you are seeing just about every email that comes to you, while you are missing updates to social media even if you check it often (a typical Facebook post by a business is seen by less than five percent of the business’s followers, even though they opted in to receiving updates from that business).
Without a doubt, if you want your message to be seen by customers that are interested in what you have to offer email is the way to get it in front of them.
2. You Own Your Email List
The wonderful thing about email lists, and what makes them indispensible, is that you own them.
If your website goes down you can still communicate with your customers who have joined your email list. If Facebook shuts down your page (and you lose all of your followers) you still have your email list.
3. Email Can Boost Your Offers
The customers who have joined your email list are hot leads. They are obviously interested in what you have to offer, and if you send out an occasional deal or promotion to your email list a percentage of them will probably jump at it.
If you build up your list over time you can get big results by offering the list a deal, even if the response rate is only a small percentage.
4. Email Can Build Trust
You should use your email list to build trust, not simply to pitch products.
Email providers make it possible to set up a series of auto-responders, meaning that each time new customer joins your list they can receive a series of emails that you set up ahead of time, on a preset schedule. This can help you to make contact with your subscriber steadily over time to build a level of rapport with them.
Let’s say you have a party rental business. When a customer joins your list you might have it set up to send them an email each week. One week they receive an email with a checklist of items to consider as they prepare to plan a party. The next week you send them an email about planning guest lists and what to expect for a rate of attendance. The following week they learn how to plan the number of tables and seats that they need for a given party. And so on.
The customer receives a valuable email that is useful to them without asking for anything in return. Your business builds trust with that customer and they come to see that you are the expert in your field. When the customer needs advice or products for their party, who do you think they will go to?
5. Email Keeps You Top-of-Mind
Finally, having a customer on your email list helps reinforce the top-of-mind positioning of your company with that customer.
Your services may not be needed on a regular basis, but when they are you will be the company that the customer thinks of first if they are receiving an email from you every couple of weeks. Also, the customer is more likely to refer you to a friend that needs your type of service if you are top-of-mind.