Building a solid customer list could be the single most important thing you do to market your business. This list – called a “house list” – should be completely opt-in, containing only those people that want to hear from you, such as past customers and those who subscribe to receive communications from you.
Everyone on your house list is, in one way or another, interested in what you have to sell. They’ve either already purchased from you, or are thinking about purchasing from you. By subscribing to your mailing list, they’re essentially raising their hand and saying, “I’m interested in your goods and services.” Therefore, your house list should be your go-to list when marketing new products and advertising specials. A good marketer will keep a well-updated house list, and use it regularly and often. If someone has already purchased from you, odds are greater they’ll purchase from you again. This creates a virtual “money funnel” of repeat business and new profits.
No matter what type of business you operate—whether it’s a brick and mortar storefront, a local service business, or an online business, you can use your house list to reach customers in several powerful ways.
Everyone loves to save money. That’s why special offers should be the foundation of your mailing program. Use your house list to send out special offers via print or email. An email special-offer marketing campaign is probably the easiest, most cost-effective way to reach your customer base. By using a regular schedule of these special-offer emails, you maintain a relationship with your customers. The customer feels like you’re getting the news out to them first, before the general public hears about it, and are more likely to buy from you again.
Online coupon codes for returning customers are great ways to send special offers to those on your house list. Sure, they might share that code with people who are not on your list, but it’s a win-win situation that brings a new customer to your door.
The primary purpose of a newsletter is to build upon the positive relationship you have with your customers. One word of advice: make sure the newsletter you send is genuinely useful to your customer. We’ve all seen examples of canned and recycled newsletters that are pretty impersonal and frankly, useless. A good newsletter is effective, but a bad one ranks up there with email spam. Provide relevant content that your subscribers may be interested in. For example, a personal trainer might send out a monthly newsletter featuring a few healthy recipes, a featured “success story” client, and a column with exercising tips.
If you use print newsletters, make sure to mail them at least quarterly. If you choose to do an email format, send them out monthly, if not weekly or bi-weekly. Regular contact keeps your business at the forefront of your customers’ minds.
You’ll want to send these kinds of communications right away, especially after a customer purchases a big-ticket item. Doing so helps prevent buyer’s remorse and reassures the customer that their decision to purchase from you was the right one. Follow-up communication also allows you to offer assistance and push similar products that might be of interest. Use these follow-up emails to offer helpful tips for the use of the new product, suggest ways to improve the user experience, or sell products that are complements to the original purchase.
An example: “We hope you’ve had a chance to try out your new model XT-77 mountain bike. If you haven’t – or even if you have – you can go online to our website and find downloadable maps for some of the best biking trails in the region. You’ll also find some great products that will enhance your biking experience, like the new SafeView shatterproof side mirror that works with most handlebar styles. ”
Reordering or Maintenance Reminders
Often, the customer is ready and willing to purchase from you again, it’s just slipped their mind for one reason or another. If you offer a product or service that requires ongoing product fulfillment, make sure to alert your customer in enough time to spur them to action. Magazine subscription renewal alerts are classic examples of this concept. The idea can be extended to many other products, such as natural health and beauty items that are used up over a short time frame. Service oriented businesses, such as chimney sweeps, lawn care, and pet groomers, can also use this type of communication effectively.
Use your house list to alert your customer base to important changes or critical information. Email blasts are a good way to alert your customer base to any kind of change that may affect them. These communications are usually simple, brief announcements and should be easy for the recipient to read and understand. For example, a bookkeeper or tax preparer can email out any tax law changes that may affect their clients directly.
When you release a new product, upgrade, or service, send an announcement to your house list. It takes some time to generate a buzz during the pre-launch phase so you should let your house list know about the new product first. Those on your house list are most likely to buy from you anyway, and having them first in your corner will help generate success in a new campaign.
Building a great house email list isn’t always easy, but the financial rewards can be huge. Update and maintain your list frequently to fully reap the benefits.