Friday, February 19, 2010

3 Quick Tips on Bulking Up Your Lists

As we all know, a growing email list is key in this business, but blindly focusing on list growth is a dangerous game to play. Even before you get to work on bulking up your mailing lists, take some time to brush up on your acquisition processes. Doing so will help you build a good reputation with your subscribers and prospective subscribers as a fair, customer-oriented business. Sounds pretty good, huh? Here are a couple ways to grow your list with best practices in mind.

    1. List growth through opt-ins: This may seem obvious, but to some it isn't. Avoid renting or buying your lists because the users on those lists aren't true opt-ins and will likely unsubscribe or turn into a spam complaint if they didn't manually and intentionally sign up for your mailing list. Think about it... what would you do with a seemingly random newsletter from some company in your inbox? Delete it or mark it as spam. Fill your list with permission-based opt-ins from your site, an advertisement or special offer and hopefully watch your ROI increase.

    2. RAF: Viral, or "Refer A Friend," links in mailings are an amazing and easy way to bulk up your lists and it takes next to no effort on your side! Just include a link somewhere in your mailing where users can send their friends an invitation to join your mailing list. People respond really favorably when something has been suggested to them by a friend... take advantage of this mentality and solicit the help of friends everywhere!

    3. Advertisements: There are a couple ways you can utilize advertising to grow your lists. You can strike a deal with your partners where they advertise your brand/product on their site or in their mailings and provide a link to your newsletter signup to their lists and vice versa. You could also use social networking for this. I wrote pretty extensively on this not too long ago so I’ll spare you reading the details a second time :-). The process is similar to advertising with partners, only you can do this all on your own – sign up for a social networking site and start networking.

Be up front with your prospective subscribers and be respectful of their personal information and you should see an increase not only in list volume, but ROI, opens and all that good stuff. And don't forget to take care of the subscribers you already have!

Author: Courtney Dillsworth
Co-Editors: Roopal Rawani and Carolina Bonaparte

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Give a little TLC to your users this year

Every day you observe new companies emerging in your vertical. The birth of these competitors means a continuous increase in the choices for your clients – making it harder for you to retain your customer base. We already know consumers are fickle and are looking for the next best deal… so, how do you convert those fickle consumers into active, loyal and vocal supporters of your products and services?

Let’s try to reward these users for their support and loyalty.

Coupons - Who doesn’t love coupons? Once a month, try sending out a communication with a coupon or promotion. These can be sent to users who have purchased already, as a reward and incentive to purchase again OR, you can send coupons to those who haven’t made purchases yet as a way to entice them into buying. It’s also a really great way to get rid of that aging inventory. Doing this every now and then will definitely be noticed by your consumers and it’ll prompt them to anticipate your mailings because just maybe they’ll have a coupon in them. Getting a coupon is like getting a gift in your email. They’re rewarding, they’re exciting, they’re useful. Working with your readers to help save them money will build their trust in you as a fair, customer-focused business. You can also make these coupons a friends and family affair where they can pass on the discounts to the entire family – the result is a viral effect and an increase in traffic to your site.

Membership rewards programs are really great too. I’ll skip the boring step-by-step process, as we all know how these work. What’s important here are how these rewards programs make your consumers feel. For example, I recently signed up for a promotion and I just got an email saying I’ve been given special membership status now and that my card is on the way to me. The promotion isn’t huge, but it made me really excited to buy my next product from this provider. A reward like this is really gratifying when day after day, you’re making purchases everywhere. Think about it – not everyone has rewards programs, but everyone sells something. Coming up with a rewards program for your customers is an amazing way to allow you to stand out and take a step above your competitors, while simultaneously rewarding your consumer-base and giving them every reason to purchase your product or use your service or visit your website again.

Another promotional tactic you can try out is offering your readers virtual money/gift certificates for each referral they give. For example, for every five (5) friends they forward your email to, they get $10 off their next purchase or if they tell X amount of people they get X amount in return if their friends signup.

It’s not only important to reward your clients for their business, but it’s important to listen to what they have to say about you. Send out a customer review survey and attach a promo to it i.e. if they fill out your short, concise survey, they get a coupon in return. Avoid lengthy surveys that take 30 minutes to fill out. Come up with a couple of easy to answer questions (multiple choice) that will help you directly improve your product line, your mailings, and your customer service or for that matter anything you need an insight into.

It’s so important to give your consumers exactly what they want… especially with all the competition out there. Listening to the complaints or compliments or concerns of your users and actually doing something about the feedback you receive, is going to make your consumers feel that their voice has been heard and they have made a difference. Your business practices can always improve and what feedback is more valuable than that of the people who are utilizing your business? Making yourself available for comments or criticism lets your customers know that you are there for THEM. They’ll feel important and will be inclined to choose your product over the other guy’s… the guy who didn’t ask their opinion. You can try making surveys on SurveyMonkey and it’s free, so there’s no excuse not to!

Basically, take care of your customers and they will take care of you. Give them exclusive offers to make them feel special and make them want to continue doing business with you.

Author: Carolina Bonaparte
Co-Editors: Courtney Dillsworth & Roopal Sharma