Do you have a list? That is a list of clients and prospects that have shown some form of interest in your business. Every time a prospect comes in to contact with your business your first objective should be to capture their details. Most people that come in to contact with your business won’t be ready to buy. Your job as a business owner or marketer is to know who they are and keep reminding that you are there so that when they are ready to buy, your business is at the front of their mind.
Your marketing should be designed to keep in touch with your list. To keep delivering little nuggets of value to your list, developing a relationship of trust with them. Then when they are ready to buy, they will turn to you first. You can even prompt the purchase by sending them great offers.
The importance of the list
To emphasise the importance of your list to your business I’ll give you an example. A very successful American businessman took his eye off the ball and ended up with a huge tax bill. The one agency you don’t mess with in the US is the IRS. Remember – they finally put Al Capone behind bars for tax evasion! Anyhow, in negotiating his way through his financial meltdown, the IRS stripped him of all his assets, including his corporate jet, but they let him keep his list. They didn’t realise the value of his list. With his list safely in his pocket he was able to restart his business career and become the huge success he is today. That is how valuable your list becomes once you work at filling it with your ideal prospects.
Your business, your list
So you have a great product or service. You’ve created a website and maybe you have started to run some Google Adwords campaigns to try and sell it. But things are slow and you are not getting much traffic to your website and even fewer sales. You’ve heard of e-mail marketing and you are sending messages to everyone who has contacted you but it’s a small list…. Your never going to emulate Dan Kennedy or Nigel Botterill with that size list.
So how do you grow your list? I started out by saying every time a prospect comes in to contact with your business your first objective should be to capture their details. This is a two part problem: firstly how do you get prospects to come into contact with your business and secondly, how do you persuade them to part with their contact details.
Another thing I said in the opening of this post was to keep delivering little nuggets of value to your list. Well those same nuggets can be used to create your list. In my businesses my nuggets come in several forms but the key for driving traffic to my site is my blog.
Access to my blog is free and all posts deliver a piece of key advice or guidance that my ideal prospect would find useful. But I don ‘t just publish and hope that people will find them. For every post I create at least 4 different tweets to tempt people to read it. I post one of these tweets every three hours on a randomly recurring basis to my twitter followers. The tweets get retweeted and favourited which grows my following and followers click through to the posts to read them. There is a separate blog post describing how I grow my Twitter followers.
I also post a link to each post on my Facebook pages, my linkedIn timeline and into relevant LinkedIn Groups so I get as wide coverage as I can with paying anything.
Getting traffic is one thing, but I still don’t have the contact details of the site visitors. I could just ask people to sign up for my blog e-mails but these days few people would. So I offer them something in return for their contact details. That’s where the other two key forms of nuggets come in – my e-books and videos. In return for receiving an e-book or getting access to a video, I ask for a name and e-mail address. Hey presto, they are on my list.
I also tweet and post direct links to sign-up forms offering the e-books and videos without people needing to come to the site. It just cuts out a step.
You can use Twitter or Facebook ads and Google Adwords to drive traffic to your site to get sign-ups. You need to have a really good understanding of the value of a customer and your conversion rates from clicks, to leads to clients to do this profitably. Otherwise you are simply lining Google et al’s pockets.
Moving from prospect to client
The next stage is to continually feed your list useful information, building a level of familiarity and trust. When the time is right, make them an offer. To grow your list effectively and send regular e-mails to it you need an e-mail marketing system. The system will automate capture of contact details and enable you to send bulk e-mails to hundred or even thousands of prospects and clients without getting your e-mail address marked as spam. These come in all shapes and sizes and cost from little or nothing right up to hundreds of $s per month depending on sophistication and the number of e-mails you want to send. I started with Aweber at the lower end of the spectrum. Similar systems include Constant Contact and Mailchimp. The higher end systems include Infusionsoft, the system I use now.
List building and e-mail marketing can be a long game. Depending on the product or service you are selling it may take time to establish the right level of trust. It also depends on the buying cycle and how you attract people to your list. If you have a good handle on the conversion rates and costs per click the buying cycle for paid traffic can be quite short.
Some people look to leverage the sign-up for an e-book or video by making an immediate offer for a high value product but at a low price compared to the normal selling price. It’s a one time opportunity to get the product at that price. This technique is called a tripwire or welcome mat. More on that in a future post.
Targeted client acquisition using LinkedIn
List building is a great strategy and really works. But as I mentioned above, it can be a bit of a long game. For prospects that join your list and show a good level of engagement, one of the best ways to accelerate them through the buying cycle is to connect with them on LinkedIn. They already know you through your list building so the connection is easy. It is then also much easier to build rapport and trust and gauge their readiness to buy.
LinkedIn is also a ready-made platform for referrals or recommendations so you can use it to provide social proof and credibility. I have links to my key e-books and videos as well as all my new blog posts on my linkedIn profile. Connect with me on LinkedIn if you want to know more: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/allenruddock