Whether you own a kiteboarding shop, school resort, event organizer or are an independent instructor or pro, he real secret to growing your business is growing your email list. The biggest mistake most people make in business is focusing on building their Facebook friend or fan base, their twitter followers and YouTube subscribers without putting a system in place to own those contacts themselves.
Think about it. Who really owns the connection of your Facebook page fans? Facebook. If they collapse tomorrow or shut down your page you’ve lost all those contacts. The purpose of social media is to direct people to your website. The purpose of your website is to get them to connect with you. Either by calling, emailing, buying or giving you their contact information. A website that achieves these things is an effective website. Don’t be fooled by flashy rotating graphics.
A well cultivated email list filled with eager repeat customers could get you more time on the water and more business.
Why You Need an Email List
Retailers and Resorts: For purchases in the price range typical of kiteboarding gear, SUPs and resort trips it usually 8-10 “touches” to convert a looky lou into a paying customer. A well cultivated email list (along with excellent service & products) turns one time customers in to frequent buyers. A “touch” can be an interaction on Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube, on the beach or helpful informative emails.
Instructors and Schools: While some people are absolutely obsessed with the idea of learning kiting and sign up right away others may take some time. Either they just aren’t ready or their life circumstances don’t allow it right now. You want to keep in touch with those people, help them remember why they want to learn. With students who complete your program you want to keep in touch with them so they remember you are available as they want to learn new skills and refer friends.
Pros and Event Organizers: Two things sponsors look for are alignment with their message and “reach.” Reach is how many people are likely to see you with their brand. One of the most powerful forms is the email list. These are people who are interested enough to know what you’re up to to have it delivered right to your inbox. A strong, healthy email list can be a powerful asset for attracting sponsors and negotiating deals. With a well cultivated list you could have clinics and tours fully booked well in advance.
How to Build an Email List
1) Set up an account with an email management system. These programs make it possible to send well designed emails with links, graphics, and pictures. It is much easier and more efficient than trying to send from your own email, which is basically illegal anyway. There are laws about business email lists. You must have an unsubscribe option, follow rules about contact info etc. These systems make sure that is all in place for you. I personally like MailChimp. They are very user friendly and have a very robust free program. And they make it easy to connect your MailChimp account to an email capture form on your website.
2) Set up an email capture form on your website. A website with out an opportunity for people to sign up for your email list is like having a store front with lots of cars driving by. When you look at your website traffic analytics and see all those people who visited your site those are all potential customers that came and went and you have no way of ever connecting with them again. When people sign up for your email list you have the opportunity to build a relationship with them.
I’m not going to get into the mechanics of how to set up an email capture form for your site. That is a question for your web developer. Every site is different. Place t on the right hand side of the page. Eye tracking studies reveal people tend to look here first. It is also what people are used to so they are more likely to respond.
More people will sign up for your email list if you offer some sort of freebie in exchange for their contact information. By freebie I mean information, not a physical item. With a good email management program you can set it up that when people register they are automatically sent a welcome email which can include a PDF or video you pre-load. Offer useful information that relates to your business. For example, you may offer 10 Tips for Kiting The Outer Banks or tips for better performance, or a breakdown of how to do a signature move. At this writing I’m breaking my own rule on this. That’s because I’m breaking another rule of business and combining my two threads of business on one site so setting up my registration forms is more complicated. I know I’m losing sign ups while I sort it out.
3) Follow the 4:1 Rule: This is true for all forms of social media. Give four times as much as you ask. Share photos, videos, information and stories. Once you’ve given 4 times make an offer. You can either do this in multiple emails or have one with several “gifts” and a quite offer or information about a sale. If you’re emails are all screaming about sales and bargains people will unsubscribe. If you’re not a writer don’t worry, your emails don’t have to be long. A great picture or video can be enough to keep you in your customer’s mind.
4) Decide how frequently to send emails. This will be different for different businesses. For most the max is 1 per week. For others it may be less frequent. Once every couple of weeks or once a month. It may cycle if there is a big event coming up or going on with more updates. You may want to program reminders into your calendar.
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