Because email is one of the oldest forms of digital communication, many people believe that it’s archaic – they couldn’t be more wrong. With approximately 3,146 billion email accounts worldwide (in 2011) and the average businessperson receiving around 112 messages per day, it’s more popular than ever.
However, email marketing isn’t as simple as merely sending out a message to everyone you can. The true trick in using email to make money is to build relationships with people before you try to sell to them. And, of course, if you want to make regular contact with a customer or prospect, you’ll need one very important piece of information: their email address. Without it, you’ve lost your opportunity to add them to your database and communicate with them in future.
Build your database and treat it well
There are many ways to get the email addresses of customers and prospects: asking for them at trade shows or business events, having a form on your website for people to sign up on, or making it mandatory for opening an account are just a few.
The most important rule of building a database is ‘start now’. The sooner you get someone’s email address, the sooner you can open the lines of communication. Once you have a database, no matter how small it is, it’s the right time to start communicating with it. Here are some valuable email marketing tips that can help you build a lucrative database that enjoys hearing from you:
- Don’t broadcast. Remember that before you can get people to buy from you, you need to build a relationship with them. Don’t send out generic promotional mailers until you’ve already convinced your database that you know who they are and have their best interests at heart.
- Make it personal. An easy way to get people to unsubscribe is to send an email that starts with “Dear Customer” or, even worse, greets the recipient with the wrong name. If you don’t have everyone’s name or are concerned that your information might not be correct, don’t hide it. Rather send out an email linking to an ‘Update Your Details’ form and ask them to give you their name. Honesty is always the best policy in situations like this.
- Include an unsubscribe link. It’s advisable (and a legal requirement in South Africa) to include an unsubscribe link in every bulk email that you send. Don’t hide the link; if someone wants to unsubscribe, let them. There’s no point keeping someone in your database if they don’t want to get your emails. You’ll only annoy them and potentially generate bad publicity for your company.
If you make regular contact with the people in your database and treat them well, you’ll have a strong base of loyal customers before you know it.