In an earlier column, I discussed an offline e-mail acquisition tactic that restaurants and lodging properties can implement to build a list of clients. Now I’ll discuss storing your clients’ e-mail addresses and contact information and how to deliver an e-mail message to them.
First transfer addresses from paper into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Make three columns — e-mail, first name and last name — and save as your offline client e-mail list. If you have staff, this is an easy task you can set up to be performed either daily or weekly based on the number of e-mails you have acquired.
Next go online and set up a Web-based e-mail-marketing account with iContact.com, aWeber.com, ConstantContact.com or GetResponse.com. The cost starts at $9 a month for storing 250 e-mails. As you build your list, you can upgrade your service to store more e-mails. You will store your e-mail here and also send e-mails to your list through this account.
E-mail marketing services have features that enable you to create an e-mail template with business images, company logos, headers and footers. You can write an e-mail, save it and choose a day to have it delivered. The services help you become more efficient.
On a weekly or biweekly basis, you should import your Excel spreadsheet into your account. When you first set up your account, notify the company that you will be importing e-mail addresses from clients that you have acquired offline. Tell the company that you have a restaurant or lodging property and that you were given permission from the clients to add their e-mail address and contact information for the purposes of sending them e-mail messages concerning your business.
It’s imperative that the company knows this. E-mail marketing service companies are very concerned about spam and may question your intent when you import e-mail addresses into your account. They want their clients to acquire e-mail addresses online through Web-based forms, so just check with the company.
Now that you have compiled a list of clients’ e-mails, it’s time to send your first message. E-mail marketing is the most effective and inexpensive strategy to reach clients with a direct marketing and sales message.
On your list are people and businesses that previously have bought from you so you must keep this in mind and focus on creating messages that build on the value of your business relationship. Sales, rewards and client appreciation messages are the most effective messages to send.
A sales message may be about a new product offering or an event at your business. Sales messages include a “call to action,” in which you ask the client to make a purchase. A rewards message is an incentive to maintain loyalty to your business. Client appreciation messages are softer in tone and are used more to keep contact with your clients, offering a discount or special percentage off your product.
I recommend that you do not e-mail your client list more than once per week to start. E-mail delivery frequency depends on the type of business you operate and how frequent you want your clients to buy your product. Restaurants can e-mail once per week, as this is an opportunity to promote the weekly specials. Lodging properties may want to e-mail once per month or bimonthly to start.
This article was first published in the Bangor Daily News by Matt Zito.