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Use Email Marketing to Build Your Small Business

Any small business owner knows that marketing can be costly, time-consuming and difficult to measure. What many business owners may not know is that they can cut their costs substantially, by using email marketing to build a list of prospects online. Using the Internet's new tools, you can set it up once, and then put many aspects of your marketing on auto pilot. That helps you cut costs, save time, and lets you track your progress.

Step 1: Here's how to build a list for your email marketing campaigns. Start by subcribing with an email marketing company or auto-responder. There are a number of companies offering these services on the Internet, but I'd like to suggest two. ConstantContact.com provides a great service for small businesses operating mostly in one local area who want to build a list that will let them communicate with customers and prospects using a newsletter, email postcards and online specials. Constant Contact has a number of tutorials to get you started, which you can try free for 60 days.

Companies looking for an "industrial speed" service might want to consider AWeber.com which lets you build multiple lists, with multiple automated messages and broadcast messages for one monthly fee. Aweber offers a 30-day trial, and like Constant Contact, they offer video-tutorials to get you up to speed. You might also want to visit the websites of competing companies to compare their offering, pricing and ease of use. You don't want to do this yourself on your own server, however.

These companies specialize in email marketing with all of the problems inherent in this service. They work hard to ensure that their customers comply with the CAN SPAM Act. They require that you use opt-in techniques to insure that people who receive your email marketing messages have volunteered to receive them. The last thing you want is to be labeled a spammer. Constant Contact and Aweber will also help you observe practices that will get your messages through the spam filters that are widely in use. These companies will also provide you with the code you need to place a signup box on your site.

Diagram showing email marketing steps

Create a giveaway to provide an incentive for people to signup
Step 2:
Your email marketing campaign will falter without a list. Offer an incentive for people to give you their contact information. Whether you decide to offer an email newsletter, special report, audio or video course, make sure it is something your site visitors will find useful. Even if the material is designed to help them select and use a product that you offer, make sure it's information they will want, not something designed to close a sale.

Remember that it takes a number of touches before most people are ready to buy from you. So concentrate on building trust and establishing a long-term relationship.

Generate traffic
Step 3:
People need to find your website with its sign-in box for your email marketing to work. So concentrate on ways to generate traffic to your site. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Optimize your website for Search Engines
  • Write and distribute articles to other sites that link back to your website.
  • Exchange links with your partners, suppliers, distributors and related associations -- anyone with an interest in your success. Avoid associations, however, with websites.
  • Buy pay-per-click ads on other sites or on search pages using keywords that relate to the content on your web pages.

Write a privacy statement
Step 4:
Email Marketing won't work if site visitors see you as a spammer. Take steps to reassure them. Include a privacy statement on your site that let's people know you will treat their contact information with care. Never share that information with anyone.

Include a way for people to unsubscribe on every email message and remove their names when asked, as soon as possible.

Email marketing can be a great way to stay in touch with your prospects and customers in a cost-effective manner, but it must be done correctly. Done well it can be a great low-cost tool for small businesses.

by Marcia Ming -

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