Why do you have a website?
That’s a question you need to consider carefully in the age of e-commerce.
Almost every business has an online presence now. But few are making the most of their sites. Most are a virtual replica of the company brochure – with product and service information, photos and contact information.
There’s nothing wrong with that. But if it’s all your website does, it probably won’t repay the investment of time and money you put into creating it.
Smart businesses are now realising the most powerful feature of a website is to collect email addresses.
Think about it.
When someone visits your site, the chances of you getting the order the first time they land on your site are slim. They’ll have a look around and might be interested in what you have to offer – but they’ll probably go away and think about it before spending money.
What you need to do, before those visitors click away, is to get their email address so you can keep in touch.
You can follow up, establish a relationship and increase your chances of converting them into customers.
So how do you collect your visitors’ email addresses?
The best way is to offer something free. It can be free information, a free gift or a free service. When people sign up for the free offer, they provide their name and email addresses.
The culture of the Web is built around free stuff. It’s what the big-time Internet marketers have been doing for years. It’s known as the law of “giving and selling”. Now, small businesses are finding it works for them, too.
You need to be creative here.
Depending on your business, you’ll know the kind of free information or gifts your prospective customers are looking for.
For example, a restaurant could offer recipes or discount vouchers. A plumbing business might offer advice on how to avoid costly repairs. A garage could offer car maintenance tips. A small business site could offer a collection of relevant articles, sent out month by month.
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination.
This whole process is easier if your website already provides some free information for visitors. In fact, people go online primarily to look for information, rather than to buy. So the more useful content your site provides, the better.
Okay, it takes a bit more work to provide information on your site. But it will set you ahead of your competition. And the investment will repay you many times over.
After visitors have read the useful information on your site, you are then in a position to ask them to sign up for more valuable information or special offers, in future. The idea is to turn that stranger into a friend, into a customer, then into a loyal customer.
The best way to achieve this is by a regular email newsletter.
You may be intimidated by the idea of writing a newsletter. But it’s not as difficult as it seems. The secret is to write like you talk. That doesn’t mean you can break all the rules of grammar or spell words wrongly. No one wants to take the advice of someone who can’t write or spell. But a casual writing style is the way to go with email newsletters.
If you really find it too daunting to write your own newsletter, you might want to seek out a professional writer to help.
Some business people are still wary of using email marketing. They confuse it with spam – the term for email messages sent to thousands of people who didn’t ask for and don’t want to read them.
But permission email marketing is totally different from spam. We’re talking about emailing people who have signed up to go on your list.
Don’t be afraid to email your regular customers, either
They won’t go away because you emailed them. They’re more likely to go away because you didn’t email them and they forgot about you.
The real power of email is that it connects you with people in an amazingly personal way – if you use it properly.
So to summarise, the keys to successful email marketing are:
– get the email addresses of people who visit your website
– send these people useful information on a regular basis
– over time, build your relationship to the point where they feel comfortable buying your products or service.
Do this, and you can’t help but grow your business.