Build Your List, Grow Your Business

More and more business people are realising that if they get serious about building their email marketing lists, they can grow their business.

Building your list is even more important in a tough economic environment. Your list is your pre-qualified target audience and with GDPR now in force, it is even more crucial that you build your list from genuine and consenting contacts. They know you and your products and services, and they've bought from you in the past. They're an easier sell and a source of referrals. That's why e-mail marketing is still the most effective tool in your marketing mix. For fractions of a penny per person, you can stay in touch with your best customers. So when they're ready to buy--even in a down economy--they'll think of your business first.

List Building Essentials

Before you get started seeking out new subscribers, review these three e-mail marketing "commandments."

1. Ask permission. E-mail marketing is different from other direct marketing. You need to ask before you add someone to your e-mail list. Only permission-based e-mail marketing works. We no longer trust or even open e-mail from people we don't know. And only permission-based e-mails get past the spam filters and into the inbox.

2. Permission is perishable. If someone shares his or her e-mail address with you--whether on your website, at your store or when you meet at a business mixer--that person is now expecting to get something from you. Don't wait six months to send the first e-mail. He or she won't remember you and will delete your e-mail or unsubscribe immediately. Send a welcome e-mail and a copy of your most recent newsletter while the connection is still fresh in his or her mind.

3. Provide an opt-out link. All e-mail campaigns must include a working unsubscribe link or instructions on how to be removed from the list. Purge those names from your list promptly--within 10 days. It's not just polite; it's the law.

Ways to Find New Subscribers

Let's start with the tried-and-true and end with the exciting-and-new. They're all great ways to share your expertise and valuable content with the people who might be interested in what you offer. That's really what list-building is all about.

1. "Join My List" visitor signup box. Your homepage is the "must do" place to put a sign-up box. But it's not the only place. Include a sign-up link on your other web pages and in your e-mail signature block. Archive your e-mail campaigns and include a link to past articles near your signup box, so people will know what they're signing up for.

Other places to invite mailing list sign-ups include:

2. In your store and over the phone. Keep a "join our mailing list" sign-up sheet at your cash register, and ask employees to invite shoppers to sign up. Put a sample newsletter in a Lucite stand on your counter so customers can see what they're signing up for. A visual is powerful! Offer an incentive for sign-ups, e.g., an e-mail coupon for 10% off the customer's next shopping trip.

Ask for sign-ups when doing phone sales or consultations, too. Don't forget to ask vendors, suppliers and business partners.

3. At business networking events. When you meet colleagues at a business function, ask permission to sign them up for your mailing list. Put your website address and a line that says "sign up for my free newsletter" on your business cards and . . .

4. . . . On all printed materials. Prompt people who receive your direct mail, brochures, fact sheets and other sales and marketing materials to visit your website and sign up for your e-mail newsletter and promotions. Point them to your website and give them an incentive to sign up, e.g., "Sign up for our newsletter and get a free report on [what you do here]" (or "a free consultation").

5. Via blogs and social media sites. If you have a blog, include chunks of your newsletter content in your entries, with a sign-up link. If you're on social networking websites such as Facebook or Twitter, post to visitors or followers about your latest newsletter and encourage them to sign up.

Exposure on blogs and social networking sites can broaden your reach to find new subscribers. Then it's up to you to nurture those relationships and turn them into customers.

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Optimizing a Blog

Blog Value Optimization allows you to determine the overall value a blog has to your business objectives. Measure and optimize the content and popularity of blog features, and use that information to better engage visitors—optimizing the impact of your blog on other components in the marketing mix to increase your overall effectiveness.

Key features of Blog Value Optimization include

 Freshness Optimization. Determine the value of blog content over a period of time based on site objectives, and assess when to remove or update it. Try to launch new campaigns based on blog postings that have a longer shelf life and higher conversion rate.
 Affinity Analysis. Understand the connection between the blog and other components of the marketing mix used. For instance, you may find that a blog linked from a newsletter is a more productive marketing tool for your business than producing a newsletter alone.
 Influence Analysis. For example, assess the contribution blogs make to the overall  success of your website. This could enable better alignment of resources and investment in the future.
 Popularity Optimization. Drive deeper blog readership by understanding which blog articles are most frequently read, have the most stickiness, and drive the most traffic to other articles.
 Blog Week-Parting. Understand which days of the week are optimal for new blog content to ensure new postings attract the widest audience.

Blog Value Optimization at a Glance:

• Determine the role and relative value of the blog in your marketing mix.
• Determine the impact of the blog on your brand, word-of-mouth and other forms of marketing you use and your sales.
• Keep up with the latest trends and maximise content to stay ahead of the competition. Conversely, if a trend starts to show signs of decline, you may want to consider minimising your content in order to concentrate your resources elsewhere.

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Turning a Business into a Multi-Level Marketing Machine

This principle of testing is what separates incredible marketers, entrepreneurs and business professionals from the masses. When it comes to us growing our business and marketing, it's easy for us to spend hours sitting down, trying to discover what will work. Doing it in this way is actually fundamentally flawed; why?

Don't be dependent on one or two marketing methods. To achieve astonishing growth, you want to turn your business into a multi-level marketing machine.

This is such a simple idea, but so many business owners fail to capitalise on it. 9/10 businesses use just one or two forms of marketing to grow. With so many different marketing methods out there, there is no reason you can't test a few.

The reason you want to use so many different methods is this; are your competitors? No. What do you think would happen if you tested, and then implemented, say 3 new strategies for marketing your business? Let me tell you; your competitors would be blown away. They wouldn't know what to do with themselves; while you are storming your way to the top.

It is not unusual to see businesses that do this grow by hundreds of percent; and it's such a simple concept. However, I can hear what you're thinking; the obvious question is 'Well, that's all very well, but how do I do that?'

Well, imagine if this time next year you had built your business into a multi-level marketing machine, but you done it without risking large amounts of cash and you came away with several, proven ways of growing your business that gave you a rock-solid foundation. What would that do to not only your bank balance, but to your entire quality of life? All of that is achievable with this principle, which is you must test all of your marketing.

I can't exaggerate the importance of this principle; if you don't get this, understand it, or implement it, you will spend the rest of your business life living at a fraction of your potential. If you do get it, and build it into your business life forever, your competitive advantage will be incredible.

This principle of testing is what separates incredible marketers, entrepreneurs and business professionals from the masses. When it comes to us growing our business and marketing, it's easy for us to spend hours sitting down, trying to discover what will work. Doing it in this way is actually fundamentally flawed; why? Because at the end of the day, nobody knows exactly what marketing approach is the best for a particular business at a particular time until you go out into the marketplace and test it. It's only your customers, or prospective customers, that can give you the answers on what marketing works; so try it small-scale to start.

If you were to ask me for the most powerful formula for building an incredibly successful business, I would tell you to, every month, try out 2 to 3 new marketing methods, on a small scale. Never spend more than you can afford to use. If something doesn't work, stop it. If it does work, start rolling it out on a larger scale, while it still remains profitable. Do this for a year, and if just one of the methods works each month, you will have 12 new marketing methods, all driving your success and profits.

Don't forget; you don't have to test different marketing methods; you can test tweaking your current marketing; for example, speaking in a different way on the telephone, or writing a letter differently, and see what increases the response rates.

Now; if you are starting a new business, there is something very important that you need to test first. You need to find out whether people actually want what you're offering, and they will want to pay the price you are asking for it. There are two types of business in the world. The first is a proven business model, a restaurant or an accountant, selling tyres or whatever. If you start with a proven business model, offer a great product or service, and implement all these great marketing strategies, I can pretty much guarantee you'll have great results, because your competition just won't have a clue what hit them.

The second type of new business is the 'wacky idea' business. It's the amazing product/service that no-one's seen before. Now, the upside of this is that you could end up like Bill Gates. The downside is that even if it's a great idea, the cost of getting it to the public can be very high, and the truth is that 9/10 people who start these types of businesses will fail. Now, I do not want to put you off your dreams, and if you're passionate about what you're offering, great. One last thing whilst we're speaking about testing;

Test an increase in your prices, and then make sure that you explicitly explain the benefits of your service; a lot of people believe that people buy mainly on price. They do not; if you think about it, if you had the choice of a fire alarm that was £5 but not very reliable, or one that was £50, but was guaranteed for life, which one would you choose? People buy primarily on benefits, and then price.

So here's your action step; decide today to test 1 or 2 new marketing methods. By the end of this programme, you will have loads to choose from, so pick a couple, test it on a small scale, and watch your business grow.

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Computer Graphics Training has been providing skills training, consultancy and design services to a diverse range of companies for over 25 years.