Last week I traveled to Holstebro at the invitation of Lasse from Lynfabrikken to teach digital marketing. The class was made up of all local business owners, two newspaper men and some representatives of the municipality.
One interesting topic that came up was how to start building your email list. I teach in class that email marketing is the most effective digital marketing tool. It is the best way to keep in touch with your customers and the people who have expressed interest in your product or service. Many of the people in the room hadn’t started to send any emails to the customers or collect email addresses.
Choose a good reason to get the email in the first place
Make sure to have a good reason when you start collecting emails. For example, a foot golf course could email scores from the green or receipts from payment. Hotels can confirm reservations. Many businesses use email in the normal course of their business. When you collect an email, ask the person if they would like to receive your newsletter. It helps to tell them how often they should expect to hear from you (weekly and monthly are common).
Make a compelling offer to opt-in
It is always better to send emails to people who have asked for them then to send them to people who have not. Besides being the law, a receptive audience is much more likely to respond positively to your email than one that is annoyed about being spammed.
When asking people to opt-in to your email list, it helps to make them a compelling offer. At the end of my class, I collect emails in order to send a follow-up email from class with an invitation to join my Facebook group (to get highly curated marketing articles from around the web) and to read a blog post I write after every class. An online shop can say email subscribers will get 24-hour early access to sales before the general public.
This is your chance to make a first impression! If your first email delivers highly relevant content to the reader, she is more likely to open your next email.
Every email needs to be a gift
After you start collecting emails and send the first introductory email, all subsequent emails should be highly relevant and full of awesome content for your readers. I advice my students to make every email a gift. That’s because people have lots of things to do and emails to read and many way of spending their time; if you want them to spend it on your email, make it awesome.
Choose a mail provider
An email provider like MailChimp (what I use) or ConstantContact makes sending and tracking your emails much more convenient. Almost any email provider will allow you to maintain a list of your contacts with identifying information, create email campaigns and track stats like open and click-through rates. I like MailChimp because I think they are fun, have good integration with Google Analytics and get the job done. It is also free until you send more than a few thousand emails per month.
My “actionable marketing idea”
I got some homework from the class today as well. I was asked what I do to keep up-to-date on digital marketing. The answer is I have chosen a number of blogs that I think regularly produce excellent content and follow them with a RSS feed. A RSS feed can be read in any RSS reader, for example, feedly.com. I will “bundle” and share my list of blogs so they can easily be added to your own RSS reader. You can add to your RSS reader by copying and pasting this link:
(Google Reader is being sunset soon, but still works well for now)
The reason I use RSS rather than Twitter or Facebook for example is that I can only import the content I’m interested in reading. I do regularly browse Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, both for personal or professional reasons. I use my RSS reader to sync directly with my phone so I can read interesting articles while on the train or otherwise find myself with a few minutes to spare.
The Holstebro group and their “Actionable Marketing Ideas”
There was a very wide variety of businesses and government officials and the actionable marketing ideas ranged across the board.
- Hotel – update website
- Foot golf park – Game/contest
- Camping and cabin site – Email marketing
- Industrial designer – Curation/Top 10 tips
- Holstebro municipality (communications) – Curation
- Communication manager for college – Google Alerts/Online conversations
- Consumer goods consultant – Partners
- Lamp shop – Social (ask fans to send in pictures of their best lamps)
- Local newspaper – podcast of the daily news
- Holstebro municipality (local tourism) – social media
- Holstebro municipality (business development) – emails (as a gift!)
- Office space provider – Curation
- Events company that rents ATVs (partnerships, website content)
- Local art museum – Video/Audio for website, social
- Web designer – Email marketing/newsletter