Whatever your business, the key to online success is engagement. The more likes, comments, shares, and views your content generates, the more potential customers are being driven to your website. Generating that initial interest is difficult. Keeping it is even harder. Rather than trying to attract the same visitors to return with each post or tweet, encouraging them to sign up to a mailing list ensures a captive audience whose collective interest in your product or brand can be harnessed to grow your visibility exponentially.
Is a mailing list really necessary?
Building a new company online takes time, and a mailing list might seem like just another drain of resources, especially at first when your list will be small. Given businesses are also chasing Facebook fans, Twitter followers, and blog subscribers, a dedicated mailing list can seem redundant. However, a mailing list is a direct link between you and your customers. More importantly, with the communication method they’re most likely to see and read.
You can schedule tweets every hour of the day and still have Twitter followers who don’t see them. Facebook algorithms limit the visibility of posts unless they’re boosted with money. Regular blog posts are forgotten and left unread. Emailing a customer directly ensures they see the name and subject of the communication. This gives small business owners their best shot at getting their message heard.
Setting up a mailing list
There are plenty of sites that offer mailing list services on incremental pay scales, meaning often you pay nothing until your list numbers in the low thousands. MailChimp is a popular example, which allows up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 monthly emails before any charges are levied. With most services you can also add automation and a host of additional analytical tools that take the stress out of keeping in contact with your customers.
How to use a mailing list
Mailing lists can be synonymous with spam, so it’s important not to overuse any email addresses your business collects. The correct volume will depend in part on the industry of the business. A cookery blog might send weekly or even daily emails, whereas an accounting service might only email during occasional promotions or busy industry periods. Your subscribers will tell you when they’ve had enough: check after each mailing for people who’ve left the list, and if subscribers start falling off, cut back on the emails.
Use A/B testing
Although most people check their emails regularly, mailers are still frequently unread or overlooked because of their marketing nature. The first and last opportunity you’ll have to address subscribers is with the subject line. Most mailing list companies have tools to help select the best subjects to get the most opens. You can test your audience yourself using A/B testing. A single mailing list is split into segments, with each group getting the same email under a different title. By comparing open rates you can see which keywords perform best and increase your success rate.
Keep expectations realistic
Followers don’t see every social media post. Likewise expecting a 100% open rate for a mailing list is unreasonable. The more opens you can generate, the better, but don’t become disheartened by striving for perfection. Instead, focus on those who do open the emails—and increasing their number. Retain their interest by providing valuable content, be that a new recipe or a discount voucher during a sale.
A mailing list is a wonderful tool because it’s a very passive way of engaging fans and potential customers. Once they’ve signed up, they’re unlikely to unsubscribe unless you miscalculate the number or frequency of emails they’re receiving. Unlike social media followers, who regularly cull quiet or uninteresting accounts. Keep the content relevant and useful. Engage with replies in order to build brand loyalty and retain it for years to come.
If you’re not sure how to start, pick a plan and let TechTe.am’s friendly experts help.