Sales and marketing
How to grow your marketing list
By Michael McKerlie
Good quality customers and a prospect database for email or direct mail can mean all the difference between business survival and failure, especially during times of slow growth. The same list, combined with smart communications, will make the good times even better.
It costs more money to find new customers than it does to nurture repeat customers through regular contact, so you need to make accurate list building a daily habit.
Here's a checklist of ways you can effortlessly source new names:
1. Direct web traffic: Put a prominent message on your website inviting browsers and customers alike to sign up for regular contact. Your pitch needs to be more than an exercise in collecting names and addresses. Make it clear you'll be rewarding customers with discounts, sending regular free tips or professional advice too, by mail or email.
You must also clearly stress up front, the ease of 'opting out'. People are more likely to give you their details if they are sure they can leave your list as easily as they joined it.
2. Online orders: Prompt every online buyer to opt in to hear from you again after they have 'checked out' their purchase. If they took the time to buy straight from your website, they're the perfect audience for future sales and customer feedback too.
3. Customer lists: If you already have clients' addresses for purchasing, invoicing or other purposes, invite this already 'warm' list to receive marketing news too. It may also be appropriate to ask them during regular contact, to recommend or refer like-minded colleagues, particularly if you can offer an incentive for them to add to your list.
4. e-Only discounts: Through email marketing, you can encourage and reward referrals by those who share information about your discount offers and loyalty programs with others. Make it clear to prospects that there's a special group of customers – on email or a mailing list – who hear about deals that others don't. Include details about the benefits of signing up on all marketing materials.
5. Company literature: In the same way that you always print your web address on brochures, ads and flyers, make sure that if you have an e-newsletter or mailing list, it's mentioned on all your literature too. It's another way of securing ongoing relationships long after the brochure has been filed, lost or thrown away.
6. Business cards: Don't waste the space on the back of your business card. This is the ideal place to mention why it's worth joining your database and list the benefits of signing up. If face-to-face with customers, make sure you mention the benefits of being on your mailing list that will resonate with the person you're talking to.
7. Trade show competitions: Personal networking is still the best way to leave an impression on new contacts and follow-up marketing keeps you on their mind long afterwards. Encourage people to leave contact information or a business card using a special show contest. At trade shows particularly, the competition is intense, so you need to capture names and follow-up to stay ahead of competing exhibitors.
8. Social media mix: As new social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others take a greater hold on the business community, be aware of ways to use these networks to build a traditional marketing database.
Though these networks have specific community-building benefits away from your website, you can still use them to generate mailing lists – and sales. If your business is active on social media networks, use them strategically to pre-announce email bulletins, special offers or new product releases to drive buyers to your web page or mailing list.
9. Presentations: No matter the size of the crowd you present to, it's worth mentioning any online or other subscriptions at seminars, business lunches and workshops.
An interested audience will certainly visit your website afterwards or provide contact details for future communications. Like trade show contacts, your investment will have more value the more names you collect at events.
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