I am on a pretty tight advertising budget, how about you? So, I have to be selective and use what will target the audience I am looking for. Free is really the price range I am at, but I really wouldn't mind paying for a service or plan, if I KNEW it would really get my company name out there in to the public.
One route you can take, and it is really affordable, is email customer lists, and opt in lists. This means, simply, sending a routine email out to your customers or to people who REQUEST your routine business emails. There are a couple ways you can do this- you can keep a hard copy list (write each email down on a piece of paper), join an email list building service, post sign up's at your various spots (your blog, website, etc.), or join a service that sends your email out for you. What can you put in your email? Well, you could add coupon codes, coupons, show off your latest items, sale information, links to your new shops, or even tell a little about yourself. Pictures are always a great way to grab someone's attention and market your items! So, the potential is truly endless..
Any other ideas out there of what you can add to your customer emails? I am NOT an expert, so I am always looking for advice from those out there that use marketing tools- comment or send a link and I will gladly post it!
So, if you are going to create an email opt in list for yourself you would need to set up a button on your site where viewers could click and be directed to a form. The form would request name and email address. From this you could create a weekly newsletter, email, flyer, etc. and send it to the people on your list. You can use any word type program to create your newsletter or flyer (many have templates already created for this). Sometimes mail programs will not let you send out "mass mailings", so you will have to send small groups at a time. This can be time consuming, obviously. But, if your budget is tight, this may be the best way to go.
Another idea would be to use an email service like Vista Mail. You can create and edit newsletters, emails, etc. utilizing a ton of really cool templates they have. You can also put an HTML code up on your sites and blogs, that Vista provides for you, which allows people to opt in to your list. Vista manages your contact list for you. You can group your customers into several categories or subgroups, thus allowing you to send out specific, target emails to those on your list. This is the service I currently use, and I have been pretty happy with it. It costs about 4.99 a month, and you can send out 1-2 emails per week to your list. I typically send one out every 3 weeks. I also have gained several new "potential" customers by using the email sign up buttons that Vista provides. Plus Vista tracks how many open your mail, how many automatically delete it, how many are moved to the spam folder, etc. This way you can avoid annoying those people who do not seem to be interested in your company, and focus on those "future customers" instead. Here is a link if you want to check this out....
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There are probably several other services out there, I am just unfamiliar with most. If you use an email marketing program, share! I would love to hear about other services out there.
Now onto some other options... There are email list companies or email marketing companies that literally do all of the work for you. They encourage the list building through various methods, and create huge email lists of potential customers. A lot of services want you to buy this list they have created. I have never bought an email list, so I am not sure what the outcome would be with a campaign. However, I have just recently used a trial of an email marketing campaign program that provides the list of recipients. It is really simple, and the cost ranges from free to about 4.95. I am still at the free tier, and if it proves to be a useful service that grows my customer base, I would likely be willing to pay for the service. You can try it for free, also. In fact you can stay at the free level for as long as you choose. I have been utilizing the service as a free member for about 4 months. I have seen the numbers increase for the viewers at my sites, blogs, etc. but I can not say for sure it is because of this service or other measures I have implemented as part of my holiday marketing. Regardless, you are not out any money and it takes about 4 minutes to create the email you send out- so, really, you can't lose. Here is the link so you can give it a try:
Another idea is to utilize the hard copy list I mentioned before, but use it as a snail mail list. Keep a sign up sheet at your shows, or fairs- ask for email and snail mail addresses. At holiday times you can send out a postcard, Christmas card, etc. with coupons or a mail order form for your customers! This is an idea I had not thought of until recently, but it is really obvious! Now, again, this may cost a little money at first because you will have to pay for postage, not to mention the time it takes to address and send out the cards- but the rewards could be tremendous for your business. I once heard that what makes a business grow is the REPEAT customers- (have you heard that, too?). You can add the addresses from your online customers to this list, also! If you use paypal for your postage, you can simply go into your account and pull up your shipping history. That's it!
So, there are a few email marketing ideas for you to think about. If you have some great methods you have tried, I would love to hear about them...