How High-Quality Content Drives Sales: A 3-Point Primer

Creating High Quality Content

I talk a lot on the blog about creating regular high-value content each week so your business gets noticed online and you get more clients, customers and sales.

Actionable content geared toward helping your audience solve their problems will drive targeted traffic to your site, help you get seen as the go-to person in your niche, get more people on your email list, and get more warm bodies in your bricks-and-mortar business.

How does this happen?

 

In a nutshell:

1.  When you offer unbiased and valuable information on your topic through your blog or website, your newsletter, and your social media outlets, you earn trust with those who interact with your content. Increasing the trustworthiness of your brand helps increase business.

2.  In terms of SEO and search traffic, the more content you create, the more search engine traffic you’ll accumulate because you’ll be increasing your longtail search visibility. Plus, well written content gets linked to, and backlinks are key to better search engine rankings.

3.  Consistently creating compelling content gives people a reason to return to your site again and again to sample your expertise. Which gives you multiple opportunities to potentially sell to them. The more often potential customers engage with your carefully crafted and high-quality content, the more open they will be to a sales message from you at the right time.

Creating amazing content for your site and your newsletter, posting it on a reliable and consistent schedule, and following a strategic plan for sharing it on social media will get more people interested in your products and/or services and increase the number of client and customer inquiries you get.

 

And that’s the down-and-dirty Cliff Notes version of how excellent content, consistently posted, can help you in your small business.

Since I know one of the biggest challenges is coming up with ideas for blog posts and newsletters on a consistent basis, I’ve linked up 3 articles below that outline some dead-simple and effective strategies for coming up with loads of killer ideas.

Check out this post for 3 Killer Resources for Sparking Dozens of Content Ideas.

Go here for 3 More Resources for Easy Idea-Gathering.

And check out this simple but highly effective strategy for creating EXACTLY the kind of content your audience wants to read.

LinkedIn: Quick 3 Step SEO Optimization Tip

 

LinkedIn Logo

Today I want to share a quick little follow-up tip to the post I recently wrote about optimizing your profile on LinkedIn, where I talked about 5 key areas to place keywords in your LinkedIn profile.

In case you weren’t aware, you can add three website hyperlinks of your choice in the “Additional Information” section of your profile and name these links whatever you’d like, provided the copy doesn’t go over the character count.

A lot of folks leave the default hyperlink copy there, which you don’t want to do, unless you want to optimize your site for “My Website,” “My Portfolio” and “My Blog.”  Just a little tip from me to you. ; )

Here’s how you do this:

1. Scroll down to your “Additional Information” section, which is under the “Recommendations” section and click the “edit” link. This is what you’ll see:

LinkedIn Hyperlinks for SEO

2. So here what you want to do, rather than selecting any of the defaults like “personal website,” “company website,” or “blog,” etc., is select “Other.”

3. Enter your custom copy in the fields there, then add your links. You can see what I did above. I entered my blog link, which I called “Get Your Creative Biz Online,” the direct link to my email opt-in page, which I called “Skills to Grow Your Small Biz,” and my Facebook Page, which I called “Join the Community.”

4. Then hit “Save Changes” and when you’re taken back to your profile, you’ll see your live hyperlinks, like this:

LinkedIn Additional Info

These are of course live links that point directly to the web properties you put in the fields there.

Tah-dah, easy-peasy, right?

Resource Alert: If you want to know more about using LinkedIn to grow your business, check out what Lewis Howes is up to – he’s a well-respected LinkedIn marketing expert, and my go-to mentor for all things LinkedIn.  I linked to Lewis in my previous LinkedIn post if you want to check that out.

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End Your LinkedIn Shame: Optimize Your Profile by Placing Keywords in These 5 Key Areas

Optimizing Linkedin Profile

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was very late to the game when it came to LinkedIn. Sure, I put up a profile a few years ago, then promptly forgot about it, letting it grow old and stale, never checking in and never using the platform to market my business.

But LinkedIn offers some pretty powerful networking and marketing opportunities, so I decided to get in the game, recently gutting my profile entirely and starting over fresh, changing almost everything.

There is still work to do, but now I can use LinkedIn to market and network, because I’m no longer ashamed of my outdated, poorly optimized profile.

And yes, you can use LinkedIn if you’re a solopreneur or small business owner – its’ not just for job seekers.

Here are just 5 reasons you may want to optimize your profile if you haven’t already:

1. Your LinkedIn profile will often be one of the first results to pop up when someone Googles your name.

2. LinkedIn is a powerful platform for getting leads because it’s business-oriented. You’re not signing in to watch funny cat videos or check out what your friends are up to – and neither is anyone else. People are there to network and build professional relationships.

3. You can link out to your other online profiles and properties from within your LinkedIn profile, giving you SEO benefits.

4. You can tap into the LinkedIn Answers feature to use your expertise to benefit others – another way to build mutually beneficial professional relationships.

5. You can join LinkedIn groups in your industry, where you can get and give advice. Very useful, this.

There are plenty of LinkedIn experts (I suggest one at the end of this article) and free resources online that go into the 5 reasons above in much greater detail which will teach you how to create a holistic LinkedIn marketing strategy, but what I want to focus on here are the 5 key areas on your profile you can optimize today using your keywords, in half an hour or less.

These are:

1. Your Headline. The headline is next to your image. This is the most important place to put your keywords. See mine here.

Linkedin Headline copy

2. Current Work Experience. This is the first section under the “Summary” section.

Linkedin Work Experience

3. Past Work Experience. This is just below current work experience.

4. Summary. The summary section is the first section under the actual profile (that box containing all your info at a glance).

LinkedIn Summary

5. Number 5 used to be the good old Specialties Section, but you may not have a “Specialties” section anymore – I don’t. I’m told that as of this writing, LinkedIn has done away with the Specialties section, so I would suggest making the number 5 destination for your keywords the “Skills and Experience” section, where you can choose up to 50 skills from the built-in competencies LinkedIn offers there. Here’s what mine looks like.

LinkedIn Skills & Experience

And there you have it. Go ahead and get your keywords in those 5 sections on LinkedIn today so you can start using this powerful platform to build relationships and market your business.

Resource Alert: If you want to know more about using LinkedIn to grow your business, check out what Lewis Howes is up to – he’s a well-respected LinkedIn marketing expert, and my go-to mentor for all things LinkedIn.

Check out this article on Lewis’s site for his top ten tips for LinkedIn marketing.

And visit Copyblogger for this article Lewis wrote called 7 Quick Ways to Turn Your LinkedIn Profile into a Social Media Marketing Workhorse.

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Up Your Business Visibility Without Spending a Dime

DIY PR using HARO If you’re a creative small business owner or solopreneur on a budget, no doubt you’re already using no-cost and low-cost ways to market your business.

For example, you know that consistently publishing high quality content to your blog, in your weekly newsletter, and on your social media accounts is one way to up your exposure so that when a potential customer goes online to search for that thing you do, they find you.

But there’s another way to gain exposure that doesn’t cost a dime, and can seriously propel your business visibility to the next level, and that is some good ol’ fashioned media coverage.

Getting quoted or profiled in a local, regional — or heck, even national — online or print publication confers the kind of third party validation that money can’t buy.

Anyone can pay for advertising, but getting coverage in a publication read by your target audience puts you on a whole other level, one that carries a lot more weight than a big, pricey ad could ever do.  You’ll simply never get the same kind of credibility from paid advertising.

Media coverage can raise your profile, create awareness around your products and services, build credibility for you in your niche, get more traffic to your website or bricks-and-mortar location, and ultimately get more sales in your business, if done correctly.

The best thing is, you don’t have to have a big PR budget, or any PR budget at all, to do this; we’re talking DIY PR here, and today I want to share a great resource to help you get started.

This resource is HARO, and it can help you get press for yourself.  You will have to learn a few things about media relations protocol and etiquette, but you’re a smart cookie, so no worries there, am I right?  ; )  Plus, I’ve linked up a couple of articles below that will help you in that department.

What the heck is HARO, exactly?

HARO is an email list you sign up for to receive queries three times daily from reporters who need sources for their stories.

HARO gives you real-time media opportunities, straight from journalists on a deadline needing a source.

There are advanced and premium versions of the service, but the no-cost option is perfect for getting started, and includes dozens of queries each week from reporters looking for expert sources on a variety of subjects and topics.

Simply identify the queries that are appropriate to your products and/or services, choose queries to which your knowledge and expertise are an appropriate and exact match, and reply.

(It’s critically important to give the journalist precisely the kind of information they’re asking for, and well within their stated deadline.  No off-topic or late pitches – take it from someone who used to pitch reporters on a regular basis!)

Sharing your knowledge and expertise using HARO queries can be a powerful marketing tool for your small business.  You’re in business to serve a specific audience and need, so there’s no point in hiding in plain sight waiting for someone to discover you – get out there and make some noise about your awesome business!

You’ll find all kinds of helpful information on how to make the best use of HARO queries and the ins and outs of media-pitching etiquette in a good ‘ol Google search, but in a nutshell , you’ll want to keep these helpful hints in mind:

Pitch on topic, respect the deadline, and be brief/don’t waste the reporter’s time.  (Also see the articles I’ve linked up below under “More Resources” for help here.)

Visit the link below and click the “Become a Source” button to start receiving your own daily HARO queries:

http://www.helpareporter.com/

More Resources:

Here’s a terrific article called “How to Pitch HARO Successfully”

http://www.bloggingprweb.com/how-to-pitch-haro-successfully

And here’s an example of how an educator – not a professional marketer or PR pro – replied to HARO queries and got hundreds of media interviews (you read that right – hundreds).

http://www.bloggingprweb.com/tips-pitching-haro

 

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Tap Into Your Inner {Bakery} Marketing Genius

Last blog post I talked about an effective problem solving technique I recently discovered to help generate ideas, come up with solutions to business and life challenges, and gain insight.  (Read about the “Sentence Stems” technique here.  Big ups to Rich Schefren, who I first learned about this technique from.)

At the end of that post, I said I’d take you through some ideas I generated when I applied this exercise to a friend’s dilemma of getting more customers into her bakery (mostly cupcakes) using no cost or low cost marketing methods.

Keep in mind that when you’re completing the sentence stems daily, not everything you write will be worthwhile, or even doable, and that’s OK.  The idea is to step outside your limitations, think big, and just write whatever comes to mind without censoring yourself.

If you work on your sentence stem exercise daily, at the end of a week or two I guarantee you’ll have at least a few really good, workable ideas.

The sentence stem I constructed for my friend’s bakery was this:

“I could get more customers into my bakery using no or low cost marketing if I  . . .”

. . . partnered with other small businesses in my community to tap into their audiences.  I could approach caterers, wedding planners, event planners, etc. and offer to do joint promotions with them.

. . . hooked up with a local florist and offered to do “a dozen cupcakes with a dozen roses” kind of delivery, or similar.

. . . dropped off samples with a business card and price sheet/order form to offices in my area for their employee birthday celebrations and other office parties where food goodies are needed.

. . . came up with something no one else is doing to set myself apart from other bakeries in my community, like offering  special order baked goods with free delivery or similar.

. . . offered customer loyalty cards where after the 10th visit, the customer gets a free cupcake or similar.

. . . partnered with another small biz owner to cut costs and rented booth space at a high-traffic bridal show.

. . . participated in the local farmers’ market weekly.

. . . offered to provide goodies for a local biz networking event (along with plenty of business cards and order forms!).

. . . offered to sponsor or host a local business networking event in my place of business.

. . . went to one local business networking event per week.

. . . offered to speak to a local networking group about how I started my dream bakery business.

. . . partnered with a wine bar or similar to do a monthly cupcake and wine tasting. We both send out invites to our email lists and invite our local Facebook and Twitter following as well.

. . . did cupcake decorating lessons to get peeps into my place of business – they pay for the class & supplies and get to keep the cupcakes.

. . .offered a Mother & Daughter cake decorating or cupcake decorating class to celebrate Mother’s Day, and other similar holiday-themed classes.

. . . provided baked goods to realtors for their open houses.

. . . did daily Facebook and Twitter promos:  Do a status update in the a.m. with the flavors that will be running that day, then as the flavors start selling out, highlight this fact on Facebook and Twitter to build excitement:  “Key lime custard almost gone, 6 left, come in and get yours!” etc.

. . .did a “question of the day,” where I post a trivia question or similar first thing in the morning to Facebook and Twitter, and the first person to come in and answer it correctly gets a free brownie or cupcake, then announce the winner on Facebook and Twitter at the end of the day.

. . . donated a beautifully decorated gift package of baked goods to a silent auction once per quarter.

. . . placed an email opt-in form on my website and collected email addresses.  Then send my email list special promotions, coupons, flyers, info about baking classes, recipes, etc. etc. to build customer loyalty (and collect email addresses in store, during baking classes, at trade shows and any and every other appropriate time and opportunity, because an active email list is one of the very best business assets you can have – but that’s a sentence stem brainstorm for a whole other post!)

. . . started a blog about baking.

. . . submitted guest posts to local food-related blogs.

. . . pitched a story to my local newspaper’s food section about my awesome local food-based business.

OK, there are 22 ideas.  Mind you, some of them might not be workable, but many of them are.  And these 22 things I came up with in one sitting of around 20-30 minutes.  If I had done the sentence stems exercise every day for a full week or two as suggested, the list would obviously be way longer.  But you get the idea.

Sometimes it’s just about giving yourself permission – and time – to get really still and brainstorm.  And doing this regularly will loosen up all kinds of ideas for you, I just betcha.  : )

Now you give it a try, and let me know how you do in the comments!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

Getting Your Small Business Found Online: Local Business Directories

Biznik Local Business Online Directory

If you’ve been paying attention to what’s new in local marketing, then you’re likely already using online directories to get the name of your small business out there.  You may be using Google Places, Yelp, and Merchant Circle, etc., but did you know there are a slew of other online directories you can add your business listing to as well?

With more and more people going online to seek out business recommendations, it makes sense to be in as many places as possible to up your chances of being found online when someone searches for that thing you do.

At the end of this article I’ll share a link to where you can find 50 more online business directories, but first I want to focus on one in particular that I find pretty impressive.

It’s called “Biznik,” and it bills itself as “an award-winning community of entrepreneurs and small businesses dedicated to helping each other succeed,” whose motto is “Business Networking that Doesn’t Suck.”

What I love about this particular online directory is that it feels much more like an actual community than it does a straight up directory.  Created specifically for indie business people, solopreneurs, and micropreneurs, Biznik’s overall feel is collaborative and helpful, with a strong whiff of “we’re all in this together, so let’s be supportive of one another.”

Biznik Local Business Online Directory

What’s different – and cool – about this community of independent business owners is that it blends online social networking with local member-driven in-person events.  And yes, there’s a Biznik community right here in Wilmington, NC!  (This is a big deal, because we didn’t even have Yelp here a couple of years ago.  Being at the very end of the road and all that . . . )

Basic membership at Biznik is free, pro membership is $10 per month, and ProVIP is $24 per month.  It couldn’t hurt to sign up for a free basic membership to get a feel for the community and what it has to offer, then upgrade to enhanced membership if basic membership gets you results.

Go to Biznik’s About page here to find out more.

Check out Hubspot’s list of 50 local business directories here.

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

How to Use Twitter Search to Find Clients and Customers

Twitter Search to Find Clients

How cool would it be if you could spend just 15 minutes online and find potential clients and customers in your area, looking for exactly the kind of product or service you provide?

Well, you can use Twitter Search to do just that. Now, a word of caution: once you do find people looking for what you have to offer, you don’t want to do a hard sell; instead, you want to give them a valid reason to check you out.

For example, say someone’s looking for happy hour specials at a full service bar within a 5 mile radius, and you happen to be a full service bar with great happy hour specials within that 5 mile radius.  So you reply to their tweet with “Great happy hour specials at —Name of Your Fabulous Bar Here—on Front Street, ½ price appetizers & handcrafted beer until 7:00 pm!” or similar. Or if that’s too “salesy” for you, offer a $5 off coupon off for their next visit to your establishment.  You get the idea.

OK, so let’s get down to it and do a Twitter search so I can show you what I’m talking about. There are two ways to do this.

Log into your account, and once there, use the simple search bar at the top of your page:

Twitter search bar

Enter your search terms and see what turns up.  You’re going to want better, more targeted results than a general search will give you though, so click on “refine results” in the bottom right corner of that pane once your initial search results are returned, which will take you to the Advanced Search page.

Twitter cupcake search

Or, you can simply go to http://search.twitter.com/, and click on “Advanced Search” from there.

Twitter Advanced Search

Advanced Twitter Search

Once you’re in the Advanced Search pane, you’ll see all sorts of options for searching, so just have a play around and see what works; you’ll see that you can filter searches in several ways there.  If you’re a location-based local business, then obviously you want to use the “places” filter for finding people in your specific area searching for what you offer.

Here’s how I set up my search:

I searched for the general term “cupcakes,” which returned far too many results.  I then “refined” the search to: “need cupcakes,” within a 15 mile radius of Washington, DC, then clicked the “Question” box on the bottom of the advanced search page.  Here’s what that search turned up:

Twitter cupcake search results

Bingo!

Now what if you’re a bakery with mini cupcakes/cookies in this person’s area – don’t you think with a well thought out response to their tweet, offering them exactly what they’re looking for, that customer is coming to your store?

Here’s another example.  Let’s say you’re a caterer who specializes in catering large weddings. Using Advanced Search, you look for mentions of the words “wedding caterers” within 15 miles of your town, and you select the “Question?” checkbox in Advanced Search, which will narrow the results to tweets that contain your search terms and also pose a question.

You might not get results on your first search, but it’s entirely possible that if you run this search on a regular basis, you’ll find someone asking for recommendations for caterers who specialize in large weddings.  Then you can respond to these tweets with a special offer, a free consultation, or something else of value.

If you use Advanced Search to find people who are looking for what you provide, and you offer genuine, non-douchy value and solutions, chances are you’ll be able to add new clients and sales to your business.

Have you ever used Twitter search to find new clients and customers?  How did it work? Let me know in the comments below!

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

9 Reasons to Get Over Your Twitter Fear

I know from talking to a few small business owners and solopreneurs recently that Twitter seems to confuse a lot of folks.  They don’t understand the technology, they don’t know what to say on Twitter,  they can’t make sense of that odd Twitter lingo, and they’re not sure maintaining a Twitter account will have any value for their business to begin with.

I have been there!  I remember how I felt when I first started using Twitter.  It was frustrating, because in some ways it felt like conversing in another language, I couldn’t wrap my mind around what to “tweet,” and I wasn’t sure exactly how it was going to be beneficial to me.

But now I’m a complete Twitter convert.  I have been to the well, and I see how effective it can be for marketing, especially if you’re a small business or a solopreneur.  : )

So the best piece of advice I can give you for using and understanding Twitter is to just to get out there, set up an account, and start using it.  Everyone who uses Twitter effectively now starting out not knowing how to use it at all. Remember that.  Because that means you can learn how to use Twitter effectively too.

If you need a little inspiration to get over your Twitter fear and just set up your account already, then consider this your push off the ledge.

9 Reasons to Get Over Your Twitter Fear and Set Up Your Account Today

1.  Twitter is great for the small business or solopreneur because it’s a way to extend your brand and your marketing, for free.

2.  Once you build up your audience of targeted followers, you can get in front of these people on a regular basis, all at once, for free, and many of them will spread your content/messages/deals/specials to their followers as well.

3.  Twitter is all about your audience, so if you give them what they want, they will reward you with retweets, their business, their friends’ business, and so on.

4.  Twitter is a great platform for bringing your company’s or brand’s personality to life.  (On social media, people engage with real people, not companies per se, so don’t be afraid to show your personality.)

5.  Twitter adds another layer of customer service to your business.   And being super responsive to your customers is great for word of mouth, and will get shared on social media, meaning you will get more business as a result.  With all the wretched customer service out there, great customer service will make you stand out, and it’s easy enough to implement this on Twitter.

6.  You can use Twitter to drive traffic to your website.

7.  You can use Twitter to monitor what people are saying about your business – and your competitors’ businesses — and what works and doesn’t work in your niche or industry.  Free market research, anyone?

8.  You can use Twitter to network with others in your niche.  I simply love Twitter for this.

9.  Twitter gives you instant access to thousands of people and the ability to track trending topics in your industry and your niche, all at once.

I can’t stress this enough:  You can use Twitter to get in front of your target audience, all at once, for free.  Can you do that with a yellow pages ad or an ad in a glossy print publication or a piece of direct mail?  Nooooooooo.

Are you convinced yet?  ; )

Now, if you don’t have your account set up yet, no worries.  Here’s a link to very easy to understand instructions for getting your Twitter account set up, with screen shots of exactly how to do it, step by step.  In fact, the link here will take you to a fantastic site that has everything you could possibly want to know about all things Twitter!

In a future post I’ll talk about what to tweet, what kind of content mix to use,what ratio of your stuff to others’ stuff to post, and so on – your basic Twitter content strategy.

 

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]

Why Your Food, Wine or Creative Business Needs an Email List

As we discussed in the last blog post, there are a number of reasons you want to have a blog for your food, wine or creative business, and for some of those very same reasons, you also want to have an email list.  These may be glaringly obvious if you’re already using online marketing, specifically email marketing, to promote your business, but they’re worth mentioning for anyone new to the topic.

Obvious Thing #1:  First and foremost, you need an email list so you can capture leads.

You want people to come to your blog or website to find out what you have to offer, learn more about you, and benefit from your awesome, value-driven content, but you also want folks to elect to deepen the relationship by giving you their email address.

In order to remain top-of-mind to folks who come to your blog when they’re not on it, interact with them at a deeper level, and do business with them at some point, you’re going to need a way to contact them again.

Ask yourself how many blogs or websites you’ve you visited and left, never to return again. And I mean even if you really liked the content, you’ve done this. I know I have.

Well, if you really liked what you saw on that site, and there was an opt-in form to sign up for said blog or websites special offer or free content or weekly newsletter or what-have-you, and that what-have-you was going to be beneficial to you in some way, you’d sign up, right?

On the other hand, if you visit a blog and there’s no way to enter your email for updates or newsletters, etc., there’s a good chance you won’t visit again, simply because as a small business owner, there are so many other things that take up your attention units on a daily basis.

You can have the best traffic strategies on earth, but if you’re not getting your visitors to sign up for your email list once they get to your site, you’re leaving a lot of potential prospects, customers and dollars on the table.

Obvious Thing #2:  An e-mail list is a great marketing tool, and one of the best assets your business can have.

So, you’ve gotten your target audience to your site, and with an attractive, value-driven reason to join your list, you now have your audience signing up to receive your regular email updates.

Now you have an opportunity to build a relationship with them that keeps them coming back to your site again and again, and keeps you top of mind even when they’re not visiting your site, as in, when they’re wondering where they can buy the product or service you provide.

Think of your email list as one of the highest ROI assets your business has. It’s a list of people who have raised their hands and said “I’m interested in your content, offers, information, services, etc.” This makes them a much better prospect for you than folks who follow you on Twitter or fan you up on Facebook, and once you’ve got them on your list, you can market to them again and again.

Now, Facebook and Twitter are important for driving traffic to your site, and for the ever important task of engaging and interacting with your customers and prospects on a regular basis, so you want to be providing value there as well.  However, not everyone is using these sites just yet, but almost everyone has email.  So leverage your Facebook fans and Twitter followers by having them come over and sign up for your email list.

I’ll say it again:  an email list is a list of people who have raised their hands and said they’re interested in what you have to offer, a highly targeted audience you can market to directly, without the kind of noise and distraction that can exist on social media sites.

Real World Example

So we’ve said that by keeping your name top-of-mind, you’re increasing the likelihood that your customers will purchase from you when they’re in a position to buy.

Here’s an example: let’s say you’re a wedding and baby photographer.  A couple comes to your website to check out your wedding packages and signs up for your weekly e-newsletter, where you share useful content each week like “tips for looking natural in your bridal portrait,” or “why natural lighting at X time of day is the most flattering,” or “Should you contract for photography only, or video as well?”  (I’m just making this stuff up, but you get the idea.)

Because you’ve stayed in touch on a regular basis, with quality information about a topic they’re interested in, when they are ready to buy, you’ll be at the top of the list of people they want to contact.

Why would they go searching online for a photographer they’ve never heard of when they already know you – the person who sends them useful information each week?  And when they want shots of their beautiful bundle of joy, or have friends or acquaintances getting married, guess who they’ll think of?

Obvious Thing #3:  You can drive traffic to your bricks-and-mortar business and make actual cold, hard cash with your email list.

Again, an email list that you mail to regularly gives you an easy way to keep your name in front of your customers and prospects on a continual basis, which translates to a ready-made, eager audience for any sales, special promotions or offers you have.

Think about it – once you’ve provided value to your list on a regular basis, every time you have something interesting going on at your place of business, you’re pretty much guaranteed to makes some sales, simply by pressing a button and sending an email.

Now, not every subscriber will become a loyal customer, but many will, and you’ll be much more successful selling to your list than to a group of relative strangers.

And even if the folks receiving your emails don’t read every one of them, they still see your name on a regular basis, so they won’t forget you.

Real World Example

Let me give you an example of this – I regularly shop at the same 2 wine stores in town, both of them sort of inconveniently located many miles from my house.  Even though there’s a perfectly good, well-stocked wine store just minutes away from where I live, I very rarely shop there, because I seldom remember they’re there.

This is because I get an email newsletter from the two other wine stores regularly.  One of them sends an email about once a month; it feels kind of random – some months I seem to get the newsletter, some months I don’t — but I do shop there fairly often, because I get that newsletter semi-regularly, so I remember them.

The second wine store, the one where I do most of my shopping, sends a regular email, each and every week, like clockwork,  announcing the wines they’ll be featuring at the weekly wine tasting, with tasting notes and prices – super handy!  Because even if I can’t make it to the tasting, I’m likely to stop in and buy some of the featured wines, based on the information in the newsletter.

Again, this store is not close to my house and therefore not very convenient, but I frequently shop there, because I’m getting that weekly newsletter, so they’re top of mind for me when I’m thinking about wine.

The wine store that’s way more convenient for me because it’s right around the corner from my house?  I haven’t shopped there in more than a year, because I hardly ever remember they’re there.  Seriously.  Until writing this blog post in fact, I had forgotten they were there, and they’re located just 5-10 minutes from my house.

So I hope you can see by now how powerful an email list and a consistent, targeted email marketing campaign can be to the bottom line of your business.

You can also use email to get great feedback from customers about what they’d buy more of if you offered it, and what doesn’t really move them about your current offerings.  And e-newsletters are easy to share and forward, so your customers will send them to their friends if they find value in them, generating even more business for you.

If you haven’t set up your email capture form on your blog or website yet, I hope you’ll put that on your marketing to-do list this week, and make email marketing an integral part of your regular marketing mix.

[Hey there, gorgeous. Did you know you can get my FREE weekly newsletter, with actionable tips, techniques, and how-to’s for marketing your business online, delivered straight to your email inbox each Tuesday? You betcha! Go ahead and enter your name and email address at the top right hand side of the blog now, and let’s get you glowing online.]