How to Build and Maintain a Powerful E-mail Marketing List for Your Small Business

Everyone has an e-mail address. In the ever-changing world of technology, e-mail appears to be the easiest form of communication. Offering the most convenient form of staying in touch with friends and family, e-mail is also the primary way for your small business to maintain a steady list of loyal customers.

Standard postal mail is a product of the past that most consumers view as another weight that belongs in the trashcan, and telephone calls can feel invasive. Because of this, building a long-term e-mail list for your small business is one of the best ways to ensure your success.

The first obvious step is having an easy way for potential clients and customers to subscribe to your e-mail list. A large bold “SIGN UP FOR OUR E-MAIL LIST!” should be one of the most prominent features on your website. Include information that e-mail list members will be the recipients of special information and discounts. Few people turn down the opportunity to save money. If your business also runs a store, include an e-mail sign-up at the cash register. If they are already buying, chances are they will want to continue.

A poll conducted by Harris Interactive recently showed that the “majority of adults welcome marketing e-mails from familiar sources.” The survey polled 2,541 adults over the age of 18 and found that 74% found e-mail communications from companies they do business with to be valuable.

“Savvy consumers have come to rely on e-mail marketing communications as a resource to help them get the best deals possible,” said Kevin Johnson, president of Acxiom Digital, adding, “This poll demonstrates that e-mail marketing has evolved over the years to bring more value to consumers while proving to be a more effective medium for retailers than ever before.”

Ok, so building is easy. Maintaining is the hard part. This is where so many businesses, both big and small, lose control of their customers. An e-mail update every three days is not necessary. Customers do not want to receive a barrage of messages about information that does not matter to them. Rather than clog their inboxes, consider a weekly or bi-monthly coupon offering. Customers will appreciate the opportunity to save money without having to read useless information each day. Be sure to keep these e-mails short. A reader’s time is just as valuable as yours, and he or she does not want to read six paragraphs of fluff.

In the Harris Interactive poll mentioned earlier, 60% of those respondents who had received marketing e-mail cited substantial offers and discounts as motivation to respond, and 55% said that e-mails that were personalized to their interests and lifestyle were important to them.

Depending on the type of business you run, an e-newsletter may be a great tool to use to keep your long-term e-mail list. Send a monthly update that includes any new successes, product releases or changes in your company. Always remember your audience, too. Writing for e-mail subscribers is a much different task than writing press releases or technical business information. Keep the writing conversational and fun.

In your e-mail signup, give customers a chance to include their birthdays. Customers who receive birthday messages or special offerings for their personal holidays are likely to remain avid readers of your business newsletter. Think of your small business e-mail list as a list of friends – the closer you become, the better your business.

Do NOT add e-mail addresses without the request of the recipient. This is an automatic way to get identified as a spammer and lose credibility in the on-line world. The last thing you want for your small business is to end up in the junk e-mail category.

With an understanding of what readers want from e-mail updates, your business can keep a long list of devoted customers who appreciate your efforts to give them relevant and valuable information. As your long-term e-mail list continues to expand, you can enjoy watching your business grow, too.