When you’re buying or selling a business, particularly a retail or restaurant style business, it’s easy to get so caught up in the physical and legal aspects, like property owned by the business, inventory, and business agreements, that you forget the electronic stuff. What I’m talking here is the business’s online presence. Well-marketed, well-cared for businesses don’t stop at their website. Their online presence includes an array of listings, social marketing platforms, Youtube and other audio or video accounts, email marketing lists, and quite possibly one or more hosting accounts or domain names. That online presence, even if it hasn’t been updated recently, has value…significant value in many cases.
We all know that the first step in successful marketing is to gain an audience and the second is to deliver information they want to hear. The third step, which often goes unrecognized, is building that audience. More people listening equals a greater chance of a sale, right?
Here are my top 3 tips for building that list:
1. Solicit your customers at the point of purchase.
Hotel guests, for instance, may want to receive information on your upcoming promotions if they enjoyed their stay with you. Offer them the opportunity on your comment card to sign up for your mailing list. Retailers can offer customers the opportunity to sign up when they’re at the register. If you’re a vendor at a large tradeshow using an online credit program like Square or Flint, you can add the email addresses from your day’s sales to your list.
2. Offer a gift for subscribing.
Give them incentive to subscribe. For instance, you can offer a free downloadable PDF to new subscribers. Include tips and tricks your customers will want to use or a short article on a topic that’s relevant to your customer base. The key is to offer a good exchange, their subscription to your list for something that’s useful to them and fairly low-cost to you.
3. An opportunity to win draws many people in.
Enter all new subscribers in a periodic drawing, like a monthy drawing for a free dinner for two at your establishment or a free hour of service. Be sure that whatever you’re giving away, it’s of high value to your customer and low cost to you.
Mailing List Etiquette
Sure, you can add everyone and their brother to your mailing list, but will that actually help you make sales? Probably not, in part because you probably didn’t ensure each and everyone of those people wanted to be on your list. When you’re building your list, be sure to ask first and respect whatever answer you receive. The integrity you show by asking and respecting the answer will go further toward closing on an eventual sale than you’ll get by having a huge but unfocused list like the kind you’d have built by adding anyone and everyone.
Don’t worry about the size of your list when you’re getting started. It’s too easy to be discouraged when you’ve got only a handful of people who’ve actually signed up. Often, past customers would love to receive information on your latest promotions. Make it your policy to add any of your past customers initially, just ensure they have a clear and easy way to opt-out. Once they’ve opted out, don’t try to add them again. Most online email marketing management programs like Mailchimp will prevent you from doing so accidentally.
Avoid Getting Flagged
Most email management programs, like Mailchimp, flag accounts as Spam generators if too many of the addresses on their lists opt out at once. When you’re adding new names, parce them out a bit. Don’t add 300 new email names all at once. Instead, add fifty a week until you’ve completed the list. Also, review your new names as you go, ensuring you feel fairly confident each one wants to receive information from you.