This came up in conversation today at a Chamber of Commerce lunch.
We were talking about small business owners sending unsolicited e-mails to their customers. You know, you’re trying to expand into the internet – you have e-mail addresses from your existing customers – and you want to send them e-mails.
Is this spam?
Well…technically…yea, it is. Anything you send that you don’t have permission to send is spam. But will your customers mind?
After all, they already do business with you, right? And when you send them an e-mail, you’re going to use it to build an online relationship with them…right?
You’re going to send them e-mails asking them to subscribe to an e-zine filled with useful, relevant information. Of course you are!
It isn’t as though you’re going to send them e-mails selling junk, or even that you’re always going to send them “selling” e-mails. You’re a smart business person, and you know adding the internet to your business means having to build an online relationship with your customers…
No matter how long they’ve been walking into your store.
Here are three simple steps for starting that online relationship with your customers:
1. Think through how you’re going to use an online newsletter – an ezine.
Will you send it monthly? weekly? bi-weekly? And what are you going to put in it?
Maybe there’s another site where you can find useful information that’s available to be syndicated (reprinted) in your ezine.
2. Plan an autoresponder series to tell your customers about your new ezine.
Let’s say you use 7 e-mail messages for your autoresponder series. The first three can tell them about the ezine and why you want to do this for them.
The next two can focus on where you are getting content, and ask them to help you make a great ezine by giving their feedback.
Messages 6 and 7 could be the first two editions of your ezine.
And watch the timing of the messages. 1, 2 and 3 can be a couple of days apart, 4 & 5 should be farther apart, and 6 & 7 will be at the same frequency as your ezine.
3. Deliver useful, relevant content EVERY time.
You can easily put some ads into your ezine. Whether you advertise store specials, ads for related vendors, or even community events you know your customers enjoy.
The most important thing is to make sure everything is relevant to why your customers come to you.
If you sell tires – and you’re putting together an ezine about tires – you probably don’t want content or ads for sewing machines or fishing poles.
If you sell tire and you’re an avid hunter/angler – and lots of your customers share your passion – then do a newsletter about hunting and fishing. You can always work an ad in for your shop by saying it’s a “word from the sponsor.”
You could have content about tires by relating it to ATVs or trucks or trailers. See how it you’re always keeping it relevant?
That’s it for now. Have a good day.