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Keep building your e-mail list

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube may be all the rage, but e-mail is still the leading choice for keeping in touch with your customer and prospect base.

More specifically, an e-mail newsletter is a great way to let people know of specials and promotions, new products and customer events. But first, of course, we must get them to want to receive newsletters and e-mails and give us their e-mail addresses.

To get them signed up, Lisa Barone, chief branding officer at Outspoken Media, writing in Small Business Trends, advises that establishing some trust is important so they’ll feel comfortable handing over their information.

The goal is to convince the customer or prospect that there are desirable benefits to receiving e-mails and newsletters from you. To get them to sign up, Barone suggests the following tips:

• Create a compelling offer — With so much spam coming in through e-mail these days, people are protective of their inboxes, and rightly so. To gain entrance we’ll need to specifically tell them what’s in it for them, counsels Barone. Tell them what benefits they’ll receive for becoming part of the e-mail list. How will it improve their life or user experience? We have to make it worth their time.

• Be clear about how e-mail address will be used — Being upfront about never selling or sharing address with other parties, as well as how they can unsubscribe at any time, are essential points in gaining their trust. You should also tell them how often they’ll get e-mail from you so they realize you don’t intend to spam them to death (and don’t!).

• Tell them what they’ll miss — Somewhat the reverse of the compelling offer, describe for them what they’ll be missing out on if they don’t subscribe. Notably, share with them how your newsletter or e-mails will help them reach their goal, avoid any problems and, especially, how it will enhance their boating experience.

• Give them something extra — You’ve got their interest … now sweeten the deal by giving them a little something extra upfront, urges Barone, who specializes in providing clients with online reputation management and other Internet services. Maybe it’s some free service or a gadget like a floating key ring, a laminated card with GPS coordinates, or a helpful checklist they can download from your website. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate gift — just something that will entice them some more and make them want to get on board now. “We could all use an extra push,” says Barone.

The overall goal is to get every customer and prospect onto your e-mail list. When you do, you have established a very effective channel to communicate good information — definitely not just advertising — that can create customer loyalty and additional business. It’s worth the effort.

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