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E-mail is a powerful relationship-building tool for B2C marketers. Research from Infusionsoft shows that Word-of-mouth marketing, which garnered 62 percent of the vote, is the most effective marketing tool. But you can’t always control WOM, so email marketing was voted as the second most effective marketing tool for small businesses.
But how and why do you build your email lists? Here’s the lowdown on gathering e-mail addresses to connect with prospects and keep your current customers in the loop about new products and services, discounts and industry news.

First and foremost, staying top-of-mind with your customers is critical for success. The web is littered with businesses that sell similar products or services to yours, so you need to keep connecting with your customers constantly. Whether it is just a weekly update on new products that are coming into your store, a newsletter or letting customers know about a new blog post, keeping them engaged with your brand is critical.
Secondly, research from Forrester and OpenMoves shows that “nearly a third of purchases from repeat customer initiated with an email.” Keep in mind that best practices include targeting specific demographics by customizing your e-mail message based on past purchases.
Collecting email addresses from your customers can be pretty simple. Besides having a voluntary sign-up form on your website, there are other ways to build an e-mail list. Here are five additional ideas:

1. Use word-of-mouth advertising. Any time customers enjoy an exceptional sale, they share their find with friends and family. Remember, Infusion found that 62 percent of business owners claim that encouraging referrals and word of mouth is the best lead generation tool. How do you encourage your customers to spread the word? Make them happy! Offer regular sales, bulk discounts, fun contests, and exceptional customer service.

2. Ask for e-mail addresses at the point of sale. A Jupiter Research study shows that in-store and face-to-face events rank second in effective techniques for e-mail acquisition. Get the most from your efforts by training staff to ask for the information from every customer, making sure to explain what’s in it for them.

3. Offer a promotional price with purchase. Either ask for contact information at the register (or on your shopping cart checkout page) and hand over the incentive immediately, or ask for an e-mail address to send a discount code on the next purchase.

4. Make every contact point an opportunity. This means that every customer service call, every request for a brochure or catalog, every follow-up call, and every price quote inquiry is a golden opportunity to add another person to your campaign list.

5. Publish industry research. Provide downloadable e-books, product catalogs, and owner’s manuals in PDF form to potential customers; by becoming a thought leader in your area, you become the go to resource for information. Require e-mail information in order to download the information.

As you start to grow your email list you need to remember that content is king. You must provide customers content that is relevant to what they are searching or shopping for. Successful e-mail campaigns have one thing in common: giving something of value to the recipient, otherwise, you’re message is just spam. Without delivering something of value to their e-mail inbox, they will soon unsubscribe or go somewhere else for information.
E-mail is still one of the best, and most inexpensive, paths to conversion because when you deliver your message directly into a person’s inbox, it makes things personal and convenient for them. It takes time to build an e-mail list, but with transparency, patience, and something of value to offer, this can be an excellent tool with which to increase leads, conversions, and ultimately revenue.

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