Updated: Dec 11, 2020
I am often asked about email marketing, whether it works or not, and how to start a mailing list.
In this blog I will tell you why you should have a customer mailing list, ask you to consider how social media really works, and some of the benefits to having a list, before we dive into how to actually start one.
Why should I have a customer mailing list?
There are many benefits to offering a mailing list for people interested in your business. The first thing that many who feel sceptical about mailing lists will say is, why should I have a mailing list, I am already on Facebook, Instagram etc, my customers find out about me there.
Your social media followers aren't really yours
Firstly, Facebook and all of your other social media doesn't belong to you. Sad but true. You can spend hours, and probably do, putting time into developing your profiles on social media, and with one click of a button the owners of these platforms could ban you, shut you down, delete you.
Why they would do that is another matter altogether but I have seen many times people going through the difficulties of trying to get social accounts reinstated after hacking issues, or other administration errors.
Social media platforms could start to charge you
The other thing that these platform owners could start to do is charge you.
At the end of the day you are making money on their platforms as small business owners.
Some of you may do the odd paid for ad but by and large I'd imagine you are relying on organic (free) services that these companies provide.
Just keep in mind that whenever something is free there is often a catch. Should you stop putting the hours in on social media? No, but you do also need a back up.
Keep your people close
Another important reason to send out a regular newsletter is it keeps people closer to you.
You can see exactly what has happened with your newsletter, who has opened it, who has clicked through your links, and indeed who has bought something as a result.
How should I go about starting a customer newsletter
The things to do in roughly this order would be
1) Decide on a tool to use to collect your emails. Something like Mailchimp is a useful tool to start with. You can collect around 2,000 email addresses before they begin to charge you.
2) Install an email sign up on your website that links to your mailchimp account so all email sign ups go to the same place
3) Share the mailchimp sign up to all of your social media profiles. Facebook allows a tab called Email Signup to be added to your list.
For other platforms use a free Linktree link this allows
4) Start a campaign to tell as many of your existing followers as possible that you now have a mailing list.
Consider developing something that people would really like to receive, like a short list of tips or a customer discount that they can only receive from signing up.
This is commonly known as a lead magnet. Tell people about what you are offering and drive more sign ups.
5) Decide how often you think you would like to communicate with your customers. For some this will be monthly, for others weekly.
6) Decide what you would like to communicate to your customers, try not to make your newsletter too sales led or it will turn off a lot of people, but do include some light call to action because at the end of the day you are a business.
7) If you feel you have nothing to say, consider the most important things you can answer for your customer.
There are ways of checking what the most common searches are on Google for companies in your sector. I have written about this previously you can see more here
8) Consider writing a blog post first and then use the material for your newsletter, this means you have more content and save yourself time as well, something we are all grateful for.
I have written about saving time on your content strategy here if you are interested
9) The best newsletters are light and friendly in tone, and link to a handful of things only.
Keep your newsletter to the length that someone could read it whilst queuing for the post office. Less is more.
10) After your newsletter goes out, be sure to look at your key data on who opened the newsletter, and what links they clicked on.
Give people more of what they liked and you are on to a winning formula
Thanks for reading
Would you like more help with your marketing? My new book is out now
If you would like a book of 100 Marketing Tips written just for small business owners then do have a look here. I wrote this book to be easy to read cover to cover or to be kept as a reference to dip in and out of!
What to read next
Shona Chambers Marketing is a Marketing Agency based in SE London.
Specialising in helping Small Business Owners and Freelancers with their Marketing.