February is a month dedicated to recognizing the things in our life that we love. Whether you’re a friend or a foe of Valentine’s Day, it’s still a good practice to call your attention to being grateful for the good people – and things – in your life.
As a small business owner, one of the most valuable and loved things you can call your own is your email contacts list. Unlike social media, where your reach and your fans are subject to an external governing board, your email list is housed within your own safe harbor. The stronger your connection to the folks on your list, the more likely they are to engage with the email campaigns you send to them. When you give a clear call to action for them to follow, their engagement can lead to greater profit for you.
So how do you go about establishing a list full of folks who are excited to see an email from you in their inbox? How do you increase click-throughs and responses to your calls to action? Let me share just a few ideas with you.
Think: permission-based email. Yes, I know you probably hear this phrase often, but have you really thought through what it means? Do not; I repeat DO NOT add people to your email list until you are absolutely certain they want to be there. Nothing says “I don’t respect you or your inbox” more than suddenly receiving emails that weren’t asked for. Err on the side of asking too many times versus not asking enough.
Give them a reason to join. In this content-rich, information-centric environment of today, business owners want solutions they can immediately put to use. As an incentive to sign up for your list, offer content so valuable they can’t believe they didn’t pay for it. Use the welcome email as a platform to deliver a link to downloadable content or a coupon for a product or service.
Tell them what to expect…and then deliver. If you send a lengthy newsletter once a month with a lot of links to resources and events, let them know. If you send a daily digest with easily digestible content, tell them. Give them an example of an archived campaign so they can have a look at what will be hitting their inbox. Set them…and you…up for success.
Incentivize sharing. The best ambassadors for your brand are the people who already know, like and trust you. Ask your readers to share your email campaigns with their friends and colleagues. Use the reports to identify the folks who forwarded your email, and reach out with a VIP offer in appreciation for their support.
Make the content engaging. Incorporate the use of images to help tell your story. Use the video embed feature to lead readers to the great information available on your YouTube channel. Add in some topic-appropriate comics or fun facts in a bulleted list. Highlight your sponsors or clients (but be sure to clear it with them first). If your organization is involved in the community, include details of your sponsorship activity. Give readers a behind-the-scene glimpse of how your business operates, or make them privy to the process of developing a new product.
Building a list is an activity that requires proper attention on the front end, but the results can be well worth the effort. Brainstorm ideas that make sense for your organization. Develop a plan for list-building strategies and move “the ask” to the top of your mind. If you have employees, explain to them the importance of a strong email list and create a contest to make collecting email addresses a fun process for them.
It’s February. Let’s all give our email list a little love before the month is over.
April Keating, a military spouse entrepreneur and mom of two young boys, is the owner & founder of online marketing firm Cre8ve Content Co. April is an expert with Constant Contact products and holds a Master Certification as a Solution Partner. She also is a member of the Washington, DC metro area Constant Contact Authorized Local Experts team. Click here to subscribe to April's monthly Cre8ve Chronicles newsletter.