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How about attracting new customers to your business and keeping them for life, all from a distance? The stuff of dreams, isn’t it? You can do this with an email list, if you’re able to create and efficiently use one that matches your business’s target audience. With such a list at your disposal, you could reach and connect with potential and existing clients, share relevant information with them (about your products and services, or something they’ll find useful), keep them engaged with your business, and record sales conversions from among their number.

Why your business needs an email list

Maybe you already send out emails to specific customers or potential leads once in a while; or you find it easier to get in touch with them through Instagram, voice calls, Whatsapp, or good old mobile SMS. What’s the point of shooting mails to hundreds – maybe thousands – of people, in addition to the other communication channels? Here are a few reasons why having (and using) an email list is a good idea, even when you have social media at your disposal.
  • It gives your business a more professional feel. Although customer relationship building and product marketing can be done on social media, you’ll have to look to email if you’re planning to build your brand into something with a more formal, mainstream feel to it.
  • It’s an effective way of gaining customers’ attention. If your list consists of the emails of people who regularly use the sort of services you provide, they’re likely to open and read your emails. It’s even better when you provide information that they consider important or useful. The right type of email lists will help you reach your specific audience, and increase the chance that your messages will be read.
  • Personalized communication with numerous people. Email lists can be managed in such a way that bulk emails sent out to individuals are received as personalized, i.e. as though they were directly addressed to the recepient. You can do this using email list management tools like Constant Contact and MailChimp.
  • It bolsters business-customer relationship. When customers feel they’re gaining from the content of the emails you send, they’ll see your brand as one that adds value to them. This will in turn strenghten the relationship they have with your business.
  • Increases sales. Although not everyone who subscribes to receive your emails will eventually buy your products, some of them will, if you’re offering them what they want.

Ways to build an email list

Here are some ideas for collecting emails for your list.

Collect attendee contact details at events

Your business could organize an event, and have participants write down their contact details, including their email addresses. You can also do this at trade conferences with people who come around your booth. They could enter their information in forms, or do this on an online registration page you set up for the event.

Use business cards

Harvest emails in small bits through one to one business card exchanges, or in significant hauls by requesting that attendees at your events (or the ones you exhibit at) drop their cards at a collection box at the venue. Emails can then be extracted and organized into a list, matched to their owner’s names and other relevant information.

Leverage giveaways

When you publicize your customer reward promos or contests online (or offline), you may ask intending participants to provide their contact information as a precondition for receiving your giveaways. Email could be made the principal means of informing winners that they have been awarded gifts or discounts. The ultimate aim would be to remain in contact with them beyond the duration of promos. In order to do this without becoming an irritant to your messages’ recepients, you’ll have to be sure that your emails give them extra value for the space it takes up in their inboxes.

Have a sign up function or lightbox on your website

Include a sign up box on your website, and offer to send useful information from your business (and other sources) on a regular basis to people who provide their emails through it. The sign up box is better placed close to or at the top bar or banner of your website. This makes it more likely that it’ll catch their attention before they move on to something else. Lightboxes are notifications which cover web pages and dim their background, leaving only the content of the notification in the clear view of the site’s visitor. They’re used by a good number of sites, because they help to convey messages in a way that’s focused and not distracted from by anything else on your smartphone or computer screen. You can fix a signup form on a lightbox so that people who drop by your website can provide their emails in signing up for updates from your business.

Just ask 

Asides the other ways of getting emails for your list, you could simply ask your customers if they would mind providing you with their email addresses. Explain the benefits they’ll be getting from your emails, and tell them how frequently they will be receiving messages from you. Then let them decide if they think it’s a good thing for them or not.

What you should do after getting the emails

Be sure to follow up with the contacts on your email list soon after you’ve obtained their information. It’s a foundational step for what could be a lasting business-customer relationship. As we’ve already mentioned, there are tools with which you can (and should) manage your email lists. You can either learn to use them (if you’re a monopreneur) or hire a digital marketer who knows how to handle them. Dispatch emails at a fixed frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, etc), and if it’s possible, at about the same time on each occassion. This regularity should make it easier for the recepients of your emails to anticipate and keep track of them. Building an email list is continuous, cumulative process. You’ll have to keep at it for as long as you need to communicate directly with your customers. Finally, your emails will only convert if they have things in them for their intended recipients, and if the brand they represent offers services that people value. Never neglect these things; they’re the launch pads from which your emails will fly.

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This article was first published on 25th April 2018


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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