by Lisa McGrimmon
Email business marketing can give you the critical multiple contacts with potential customers required to build trust and develop a loyal customer base.
People often need more than one contact with a business before they make a purchase, particularly when they're looking at higher priced items. So, the more you can genuinely connect with potential customers, the more likely they are to become actual customers.
Plus, it's easier to sell a second or third item to someone who is already your customer than it is to find a brand new customer. Therefore, if you have a way to keep in contact with people who have already purchased from you, you will increase your chances of turning your one-time customers into returning customers.
People think about building mailing lists for online businesses all the time. Internet business gurus are big proponents of the mailing list idea (with good reason). When you have a good mailing list, you can direct a large group of people who are well targeted, to new postings on your own website, your Etsy shop or any other only sales venue you may use. You can let subscribers know about new products or sales events, or even provide special offers for newsletter subscribers only.
With a newsletter, you have a lot more control over the process of bringing customers to your online store. Without a newsletter, you've left it up to the whims of Google's or Etsy's algorithms whether your new listings or products get found by a lot of interested customers (yes, you can influence those algorithms, but with a healthy mailing list, you can send potential customers directly to your online store).
Email business marketing is not always the first thing that comes to mind when people think about making offline sales. However, you can boost offline craft sales (think craft shows, studio tours) with your newsletter. A quick message sent out to your mailing list to let people know you'll be at an upcoming craft show or participating in a studio tour can get more of your customers out to the show and get them excited about seeing your new work.
If the show allows craft artists to offer special promotions, you can offer a discount to newsletter subscribers. You could either provide a printable coupon, or if you wanted to keep it really simple, you could tell your newsletter subscribers to say hi to you at the show and give them a phrase to say to get a discount. Do be aware that in order to preserve the value of handmade work, some shows do not allow promotions or special sale prices, so do check the show's regulations before you make this type of offer to your subscribers.
One of the most wonderful and valuable surprise benefits I receive from the newsletter I send out for this site is the excellent feedback and relationship building I get from subscribers. Back in 2007, when I sent out my first newsletter, I really had no way of knowing how important that would be.
Subscribers to my newsletter are truly wonderful. When I asked for feedback about what topics they want to read about, they sent extremely thoughtful and helpful ideas that are still helping me decide what to write about to meet their needs (In fact, I've written this particular article because my newsletter subscribers asked for it.). They also send me very lovely, unsolicited thank you notes, which completely make my day.
If you develop a mailing list, you have a way to communicate with your most invested, interested customers. You can ask them for feedback on existing products, or find out what types of products they really want to see. You won't have to guess how to grow your business because your customers will tell you if you just send an email and ask.
You might be thinking you don't need a newsletter because you already engage with customers on social media.
Email business marketing has some important benefits that social media marketing does not have.
I am a big believer in only doing as much as you can do well. So, if you feel your time allows you to add value to your customers on Facebook, and you're getting good results from social media marketing, but you just don't have time to commit to a newsletter, then that is a wise decision to make. Whatever you do, do it well. Choose what benefits your business the most and make the best use of your time and then do it to the absolute best of your ability.
However, if you do have time to add a newsletter into the mix, it does provide something that Facebook, Twitter and other third party sites (i.e. sites not owned by you) cannot - control and ownership.
When you build an email list of customers, that list is your own. No one can take that away from you. It is a real asset of your business.
When you build a following on Facebook or Twitter or other social sites, you don't fully own or control that following. If Twitter suddenly changed its rules in a way that was detrimental to your business, or if your Facebook business account was shut down tomorrow (it's been know to happen), you will lose your ability to communicate with all of the customers who were following you on that third party site.
If, on the other hand, you also had a newsletter, and you regularly encouraged your social media followers to sign up to receive your newsletter, you will still be able to contact all of those social media followers who signed up for your newsletter no matter what happens on third party sites.
I'm not trying to discourage you from building a following on social sites. I have watched some wonderful businesses launch and grow up on Facebook, and I use social media for business myself. But I am suggesting that it's in your best interest to bring as many of your social followers over to a newsletter that you control as possible.
Control and ownership is crucial in your business building, so if you feel you can't add a newsletter to the mix right now, commit to revisiting that decision every few months to see if you can make it work.
Convinced you should develop a newsletter for your business? Now you need to know what to write about!