$50,000 Email Lists
Find the riches in a simple email list
In a busy world full of signal and noise, how can you be sure that your best customers are:
- Hearing from you?
- Getting offers they would like to hear about?
- Thinking about your business?
Easy: an email list.
Email is not Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other platform where your message will be swamped in a deluge of content. If your customers invite you into their inbox, it’s a sacred place where they are more likely to see your message.
It may sound like an odd idea: A restaurant with an email list? A grocer? A wine bar? A florist? An ice cream parlor? But the key here is to laser focus your email list on your best customers, and stand out amongst the pack.
If you keep it small, you can really get bang-for-your-buck, and it works best for businesses that regularly have new or seasonal products and offers. For example:
- Restaurants can send a message about specials or seasonal dishes
- Grocers can send a message about seasonal arrivals or new and exotic products
- Wine bars can send a message about a new delivery of hard to get or special wine
- Florists can send a message about unique arrangements that are in short supply
- Ice cream parlors can send a message about special recipes and flavors that are available for a limited time only
There’s a local farm in North America with an email that gets sent to just 50 people in the local area. It doesn’t use newsletter software, there’s no website, landing pages or sign-up bonuses.
You have to visit the farm, pay for your veggies and fill in a piece of paper attached to a clipboard. Then, every once in a while you’ll start getting emails. That is, if they remember to BCC you.
And their customers love this newsletter.
The farmer who writes it isn’t a best-selling author, isn’t a marketer, and probably spends very little time online because he’s busy being a full-time farmer. But still, even though writing newsletters isn’t his “job”, he makes sure it happens consistently every week.
He does this, even just for 50 people, because he knows that the people on the email list are local, have purchased from his farm stall before, and are interested in hearing about this week's produce.
That’s why it’s highly effective.
Of the 50 people, up to 50% can visit the stall in a given week based on their weekend schedule and the strength of the produce available. That’s all because the farmer won their mindshare and they remember his stall, versus not having any idea what fresh produce is available this week and defaulting to Walmart.
If 25 people visit and purchase a $30 basket, that’s $750 per week. From a free email list and one short email.
Why Does It Work?
- It’s timely. He sends this newsletter the day before the farm has its Saturday market. So people know exactly what’s on offer and can decide if they want to go, or how early they’ll line up (if they mention some veggies are in short supply, there’s always a line). People get the email when they need it, eager to know what’s available the next day.
- It’s got personality. You’d think selling organic veggies and homemade pastries could be somewhat boring or monotonous, but they tell a great story every single time. Everything from saving cows to mobster zucchinis. If you put your personality into it, you can create interest in anything.
- It’s short. The people on the email list read it every week, end-to-end. That’s because while interesting, it is short and to the point. It doesn’t waffle, and the benefit of this is it doesn’t take long to write!
- It’s simple. There’s no fancy mailing list software, no images, just plain-text with a story followed by a list of the produce that’s available. All bells and whistles have been stripped out (they were never added). People get exactly what they need when they need it.
- It’s consistent. The email gets sent every Friday night during the selling season. No excuses, no exceptions.
This strategy is about sending interesting and useful content to the people that need it, when they need it, with consistency. While letting your personality shine through.
It’s underrated, underused, and highly effective.
How to Build a Valuable Email List
I want your email list to be simple and free.
You don’t need an ‘email marketing strategy’ with all the associated costs.
Step 1. Plan your email
To begin, you need to plan the content that will work for customers and decide on the frequency at which you will send it.
The content should be simple and we recommend a two step content:
- Engage your customers with a story
- Inform that about the special products or offers available
- Restaurants can tell a short, personal story about the local farmer who provided the seasonal ingredient, and then list the special dishes available that hero the farmers ingredient.
- Florists can tell a story about the history of the flowers being championed this week, and then describe the bouquets they have created.
- Ice cream parlors can tell a quick story about the inspiration behind this week's special ice-cream creation (a movie, something nostalgic) and then describe the product and how it celebrates that story.
This is where you can be creative and work with the characteristics of your business and product. Just keep it simple.
The frequency of your emails will be determined by how often you have a story to tell and a new or interesting product to share with your customers. Whatever you decide, just try to keep the frequency consistent.
Weekly, monthly or quarterly work best.
Step 2. Collect customer emails
Print out a simple table with a heading that describes the benefits of being on the list and two columns, name and email address.
Place this form on the main counter that most customers visit or where you normally have a conversation with your regulars. Think about whether there are multiple spots that make sense and have more than one form available.
It’s totally optional, but you can also offer incentives to sign up. I love the idea of sending out a secret code that updates each week. If a customer says it when you order, they get 20% off. They’ll feel like they're inside an exclusive club, and might visit more often.
Importantly, when regular customers come in encourage them to sign up for your email list. Train your staff to do the same thing.
Step 3. Add customer emails to your address book
Using your existing email account, or after signing up for Gmail or any other free email provider, create a new group in your address book (this will make it easier to add all the emails to BCC every time you send an email).
Here’s how to do it in Gmail:
- Visit Google Contacts. You can find Google Contacts in the middle of the bottom row of your Google Apps tab.
- Click “Contacts”, “Frequently contacted”, or “Directory”.
- Select the contacts you want to include in your group.
- Choose the “Label” icon and press “Create Label”.
- Name your label and type your group’s name in the recipients box to send an email to them.
Before you send each email (at the frequency you choose, e.g. weekly) simply collect your sign up sheets and add the new names and emails to your group.
Step 4. Send your emails
Remember, you have one of two objectives:
- Remind your customers you’re there, and/or
- Inform them of a specific product or offer they’ll be interested in
Write up your email, have a colleague or friend proofread and edit it for you and send it to your email list group as a BCC. Done.
Step 5. Follow up to replies
A customer receives your email and replies with a question or comment. Brilliant! You have engagement. Make sure you track your inbox for a few days after each email and personally reply to each customer who interacts with your email.
Make sure you remove customers from your list who request to be removed.
Email marketing has a high return on investment at the best of times. You can get even higher returns if you follow the right strategy.
The right emails to loyal customers at the right time can increase visits and purchases and can easily grow your sales by life changing amounts.
If this is a good fit for your business, get started today and start experimenting with email. You can always come back and refine your strategy as you learn more. Print out some sign-up sheets and just get started.
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