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Do you have an email list for your local business? If you’re like a lot of business owners, the answer is no. You might think you don’t need one, or that you simply don’t have the time to make use of it.

The truth is that building an email list is easy and inexpensive, and it doesn’t have to be time-consuming if you have the right tools to manage it.

Benefits of Having an Email List

If you’re wondering why you need an email list, here are a few of the benefits of having one:

  • It gives you a simple, inexpensive way to communicate with your customers.
  • It makes it easy to segment your list and market to the people who are most likely to buy a particular product.
  • It can help you learn more about your customers. If you send out emails about different products and one gets a lot more attention than the other, it can help you grow your business and give your customers what they want.
  • It increases name recognition and keeps you at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
  • It increases sales.

Not only is it a good idea to have an email list, it would be a mistake not to have one. 

A recent study shows that customers who receive email newsletters spend 82% more when they buy from the company. (iContact) and 7 in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the last 7 days. (Blue Kangaroo)

How to Get People to Sign up for Your List

Getting people to sign up for your email list might seem like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be. Of course, some of your customers may be reluctant to give you their email address, but here are some ways to incentivize them to sign up:

  • Ask them for their email address when they check out, and tell them they’ll get a coupon or special offer if they do.
  • Put a postcard with your website and a description of the benefits of joining your list in their shopping bags.
  • Offer special incentives such as sneak-preview sales, coupons, and other perks that will be available only to your subscribers.
  • Post information about your list and the incentives of signing up on your social media accounts.
  • After you have a list started, include a “Share this” button at the bottom of your emails to make it easy for your current subscribers to share your offer with their friends.

As a rule, people love to get special incentives and behind the scenes information. One of the main reasons people follow their favorite brands on social media is to get exclusive content, and you can use that preference to build your email list, too.

If you have a website, it is important to have an opt-in form for your email list there. People who visit your site are already interested in what you are offering. One question a lot of business owners have is “Where should I put the opt-in form on my website?” Here are some tips:

  • People tend to read web pages in an “F” pattern. That means that putting your opt-in form at the top of the page or along the left margin increases the chances that it will be seen.
  • When people have skimmed the top of your page, they often scroll down to the very bottom. The footer of your page is another good location for your form.
  • If you have a blog, put an opt-in form at the bottom of your blog posts. People who are reading your blog are already interested in your content, and it’s a natural place to have them sign up for your list
  • Finally, you might consider using a feature box. That’s a highlighted, boxed off section in the middle of other content that asks people to opt-in to your list.

Any one of the above suggestions will help increase the chances that visitors to your site will sign up for your list.

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How to Use Your List

Once you have started to build your list, it’s time to find some ways to use it. The point of having an email list is to engage your customers and provide them with valuable content and information. The more useful they feel your emails are, the more likely they will be to stay subscribed and share your emails with others.

There are a lot of different ways you can use your list. For example, you might segment your list and use it to market to specific categories of customers. Imagine you own an apparel store that sells clothes for men and women. You might ask customers to choose which products they want to hear about in email, and then add customers to segmented lists based on their responses.

Another good way to use your mailing list is to announce the arrival of new products in your store. If you just got something exciting, you can email your list to let them know about it. You can think about including a short video. The arrival of a new product might be the ideal opportunity to share a how-to video, or even a simple unboxing video to show customers what they will get if they buy your product.

One of the best things about email lists is that they can help you grow your business. You can use your email list to send out information about sales and special offers. You can even offer customers on your list a special preview sale or sneak peek at a new product. A lot of local business owners hold regular events for people who subscribe to their mailing lists. It’s a great way to make customers feel they are getting a unique opportunity, and to get them into your store at the same time.

Get creative with your mailing list. There are lots of things you can do to make receiving an email from you a fun and rewarding experience.

Tools to Manage Your Email List

Some local business owners hesitate to set up an email list because they think they’ll have to spend a lot of time managing it. It’s an understandable concern, especially if you are already working full time and managing social media accounts. The good news is that there are many tools available that will help you manage your list and get emails sent out in a timely manner.

MailChimp has free and premium versions of their service. The free version allows you to manage a list with as many as 2,000 subscribers. You can set up your list, customize sign-up forms, and use their templates to create professional-looking emails. Their premium options offer additional features including list segmentation and A/B testing.

ConstantContact is another great tool for managing your email list. They offer a free, 60-day trial and affordable plans. The basic plan includes all the list management tools you will need, including mobile apps and social sharing. The premium plan adds email automation, additional storage, customer surveys, and trackable coupons.

Either one of these tools will help you manage your list in a professional and affordable way. Automation is an especially nice benefit because it lets you write and set up emails in advance and send them out at pre-set intervals. That means that a lot of your email marketing can be as easy as “set it and forget it.” Every business owner can appreciate that.

 Setting up an email list doesn’t have to be complicated and it can garner you some very impressive benefits in terms of increased customer engagement and higher sales.

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