Last time I said we would look at some different ways you can get new people onto your email database. We can divide this task into two distinct halves
- Online subscription
- Offline subscription
Online subscribers can be added in a more or less automated way, and we’ll look at how that’s done next time, because new subscribers can be added to your database in the real “offline” world, too.
Even if you spend nearly all your waking hours in front of a computer, you still have a real life and will (or at least can choose to) encounter real people, some of whom will be potential customers.
For example, say you’re at a trade fair, a networking event or have a stand or even your own shop. The point of all of these is to engage with people and gather leads, contacts to potential customers and even make sales. Assuming that you don’t sell anything on first contact, your real mission to ensure that your first contact isn’t also your last.
You need a way to stay in touch, and for that you need contact details. Give them your contact details as well, and a reason for sharing their personal details with you. If they give you their card, tell them you will get in touch (and make sure you do, and soon), so they won’t treat your first email to them as spam.
Most people will need an incentive to give you their details. Try to be imaginitive and bold. Incentives don’t have to be related to the event, or your products or services, although this would help to ensure only interested people sign up. However, if you’re at an event mostly attended by potential customers anyway, your incentive can be anything that appeals to a large proportion of them.
To persuade subscribers at a more general event (where only a proportion of people are likely to be potential customers), keep your incentives more relevant to your business. Incentives can include free gifts of your products or services, modest discounts or a competition or draw for a much bigger prize; perhaps giving away your product for free rather than at a discount. Weigh up the cost of this, versus the value of new subscribers and maybe run the competition over several events or a fixed period rather than one or two days only to make it more cost effective.
Ask people to simply drop their business cards into a box or similar to enter or claim their discount or gift. For people without cards on them you can give them two of yours – one to keep and one to write their details on to enter the draw.
You could then make the prize drawing an event in itself, and consider recording it on video for posterity – as well as proof of transparency. Add the video to your YouTube account, webside, Facebook page, etc. Get the local press there as well, if you can.
Other ways to get people’s contact details include joint ventures with related or complimentary businesses – either sharing in a list-building event like the one I’ve just described or by promoting your products to their existing customers, with their help. When their customers buy from you or accept your offer or gift, you add them to your database. This is a very simple and powerful way to gain access to a lot of new customers very quickly. Naturally, your joint venture partner will need an incentive, too – either a percentage of your sales or by you returning the favour.
Any time you speak to anyone, in any situation, about your business or its products and services is an opportunity to establish a more lasting contact. Naturally, it won’t always be appropriate to ask them for their details but the more times you ask the more comfortable you will feel about it. Remember, you are offering people something that’s to their advantage, too. All selling, after all, is solving a problem for someone.
Next time we’ll look at online list-building.
Meanwhile, if you have any list building ideas of your own – and especially any that have been very successful for you – please feel free to share them with our other readers in the comments section below.