When you compare all of the different marketing tactics you could use to promote your small business, email wins. Yes, email.
You might be wondering: What about ads, social media or SEO for Google ranking? Yes, they’re all effective, but not quite as effective as email. Or as cheap.
According to Adobe, email gives a $40 return for every $1 spent. That’s why marketers say “the money is in the list.”
In 2021, people continue to sign up for email more than ever. Yet many small business owners we speak to don’t have an email list.
Are you in the same boat? The time to start one is now.
So we’re going to tell you how to start an email list. First, we’ll begin with why.
Why does your business need an email list?
1. Get prospects (and past customers) to remember you and return to your site
Unfortunately, more than 70% of people who leave your website never come back. But visitors who signed up for your list will get reminders about you in their inbox.
Email reminders are great for past customers too. We’re sure you’ve heard that it costs less to keep current customers than to attract new ones. Past happy customers are like gold and you want to keep in touch.
2. Make more money
There are many, many ways email can bring in sales – either immediately or eventually. You can email promotions that bring in sales right away or ask for referrals or reviews that bring in leads down the line. Either way, it pays to show up in their inbox with valuable information, so they remember you when they need you.
Best of all, email marketing programs are super cost effective. When you’re starting out it can even be free!
3. Build relationships with messages that feel personal
Email makes it easy to tell the story of how and why you got into this business. It’s the kind of story that builds relationships with your readers as they learn more about you. You can make it even more personal with first name personalization, which can be done with most email programs.
4. Grow a list you own and control
Have you heard of companies losing their Facebook or Instagram pages? It happens.
We know an entrepreneur who woke up one day to find her Instagram page was deleted for no reason. She got her page back after 2 days of nerve-wracking anxiety, but with no email list she had no way to reach her fans or to rebuild, if needed.
Glitches like this show the risks of building a base on a site you don’t control. Your pages on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. are owned by those companies and subject to their policies.
The only things you own and control online are your website and your email list.
Now that we’ve gone over why, let’s talk about how to get started.
How to start your email list – top tips for small businesses
Choose an email marketing provider
There are many email providers to choose from. We recommend MailChimp or MailerLite, which have free starter plans or ActiveCampaign, which we use and which starts at $15 a month.
Start by creating a freebie to incentivize signups
While you can use a form with a basic request like, “sign up for our emails,” a freebie is one of the best ways to incentivize people to sign up.
Keep in mind, the freebie should offer something of value, even if it’s valuable information. Think about some of the problems or questions your prospects have and make sure it answers them or helps them in a specific way.
Here are a few freebie ideas with examples for a kitchen remodeling contractor:
- A checklist (Ex: Kitchen remodeling project checklist)
- A cheat sheet (Ex: Kitchen color trends cheat sheet)
- A video tutorial (Ex: Tutorial on top kitchen design mistakes)
- A discount code or bonus service
- A workbook (Ex: Space planning workbook)
- A short PDF guide (Ex: E-Guide on how to vet your remodeling contractor)
Create a separate page for your freebie signup form
While you can place your form anywhere on your site, including a sidebar or footer, it helps to have it on a separate page as well. This is so you can link to it in your email or social posts, instead of saying “scroll to the bottom of the home page.”
Drive prospects to your freebie offer
Link to your offer on all of your social media profiles and anywhere else you can think of, like your email signature in individual emails, your transactional emails (for receipts or confirmations) and any online ads.
Email your list at least once a month
Plan on emailing your list at least once a month. We don’t suggest going into high-pressure sales mode in your emails. That will lead to more unsubscribes. Use a mix of helpful resources and promotional material instead. And write like you’re speaking to a long-time customer who’s become a friend.
A few ideas for email content:
- Newsletter or message with helpful advice
- Note about a new blog post on your website
- Your favorite tools or advice for customers
- Your response to a typical customer question that could help others
- Your freebie offer
- A behind-the-scenes look at your service or how your product is made
- A link to a video you might have on YouTube or a new social media post you want to highlight
Related: Email Marketing for Home Service Businesses: Turn the Oldest Tool on the Block into Your Best Marketing Tactic
Should you buy a list?
As a last tip, we don’t recommend buying an email list to get started. Buying lists may work for direct mail, but in email it’s the quickest way to get marked (and blocked) as a spammer. There are also rules to follow (see the CAN-SPAM Act) with violations that can lead to fines.
Have any questions? Let us know below or send an email.
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