by Mike Wolpert
Do you remember the last time you received a handwritten letter or card from a friend in the mail? Gone are the days of pretty stationery, quirky cartoon stamps, and return address labels that show off the sender’s unique personality. Most people – and businesses – have turned to email for their long-distance one-on-one communication.
Though it lacks the romantic charm of snail mail, email is intimate. When you build a relationship through email, you build customer loyalty. And though people may drop off LinkedIn or Facebook, nobody ever gives up email. It’s the one part of our online persona that remains constant.
So when it comes to growing your business, email addresses are like currency. A customer’s email address provides you a direct link to the person. Therefore, it’s vital that your business maintains an in-house contact list for your customer base.
Enticing Customers to Share Their Email Addresses
Most people are guarded about sharing email addresses. Nobody wants to sift through more spam. You only give out your email address if you know you’ll get something in return. How do you convince someone that you’ll make it worthwhile?
If your emails improve your customers’ lives, you won’t have to beg for addresses. Your customers will sign up, share your emails with friends, and grow your email list for you. Here are a few guidelines for making that happen:
1. Ask Clearly
Your customers aren’t mind readers – if you want them to sign up for your newsletter, you need to ask them. If you want them to forward your email to their networks, let them know. Give your customers a strong call to action, and they’ll pull through for you.
2. Reward Them for Reading
When customers choose to sign up for your email list, they’re looking for something in return. That could be a special offer, a freebie, or a coupon that’s exclusively for email subscribers. Use email to give customers what they want, and make customers excited to open your email.
3. Provide Value and Entertainment
A well-crafted email can enrich the lives of the people who read it. Teach your customers something new, share a great tip, or tell an inspiring story. People always want to be entertained, and email is great medium for doing that. Include a great photo or video you’ve made. When a reader enjoys something, he or she is much more likely to share it with others.
4. Be Personal
The first email you send to a subscriber should be like a digital handshake. You’re just getting to know each other, so be personal, open, and welcoming. If you come off as a robot, new subscribers will hit “delete” or unsubscribe before you have a chance to win them over. When you acknowledge that your reader’s an actual person, you’ll spark a personal connection.
It’s Worth It for Your Company
From an analytics point of view, email marketing gives you direct insight into consumers’ behavior. You get to see which links they click on and what products they buy. This is valuable information that you can use to shape your marketing strategy.
Beyond consumer behavior, however, email allows you to reach out and connect with people. With a solid email strategy in place, you can build real relationships en masse with your customer base. These relationships are what will fuel the growth and success of your business.
Put real time and energy into your email strategy. As your contact list grows, so will your company.
Mike Wolpert is the founder and CEO of Soci@l Jumpstart, a social marketing consultancy that advises brilliant entrepreneurs on creating a space for their brands to live and breathe on the Internet. Connect with Mike on Twitter or Google+.