Developing a solid local customer base is vital to your business’s success — that’s why email marketing for local businesses is one of the best tools you can use.
By building a list of leads and customers and regularly sending them valuable content, you can increase leads and sales, foster better customer relations, and scale your business more effectively.
Email marketing is relatively easy to do and will help you generate repeat business and close more sales with new customers. Here’s why you should use email to stay in touch with your leads and customers — and exactly how to do it.
Why email marketing is so valuable for local businesses
Local businesses are built on reputation and relationships, and email marketing is the best way to build both.
When a potential customer visits your website, calls about pricing, or stops by your booth at a local home show, you have a few moments to capture their attention. And once they’re gone, you may never get another chance to make that sale.
But if you collect their email addresses, you can follow up whenever you like. You can let them know when you’re having sales, survey them about their needs, and send them helpful information that builds their trust in your brand over time.
Email marketing for local businesses is not only super effective — it’s also one of the easiest and most cost-effective ways to build your customer base.
How to build an email list
To use email marketing effectively for your local business, you want to capture as many email addresses as possible — but only from your target audience. For example, if you’re selling lawn care service or appliance repair, you’re probably targeting local homeowners. People who live in apartments or other states aren’t likely to become your customers.
You also want to include your past customers and capture the email addresses of anyone who expresses an interest in your business.
Here are some ideas to do that:
- Start by gathering your existing customers’ email addresses into a list if you don’t already have that.
- Add any email addresses you have in your records from people who’ve requested a bid.
- Create a pop-up form on your website and offer an incentive for people to sign up. For example, a drawing for free service or a downloadable e-book with information they can use
- Instruct your staff to request an email address from anyone who calls for information or a bid.
- If you set up a booth at local events like home shows or bridal fairs, have a drawing for a free service and ask for email addresses on the drawing slips. (Offer a checkbox allowing people to opt out of your email list to comply with spam laws).
- Use your social media to encourage people to sign up for your email list — again, by offering a prize drawing or other incentive.
- People hesitate to give out their email addresses, so reassure them that you won’t be selling them to others.
- If your business is listed on sites like Thumbtack or Angi, be sure to collect the email addresses of anyone who requests a bid from you.
Here’s an example of a great promotion to encourage email signups. “Register to WIN $200 worth of free service! We never share or sell your e-mail address — we’ll only use it to send you useful information and tips.”
You could use this messaging in your social media, a pop-up form on your website, a drawing box at your event booth, and a signup sheet at your reception desk.
How to manage your email marketing
There are free and very low-cost apps to help you manage your email list and send emails.
For example, MailChimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and gives you access to great templates for newsletters and promotional emails. It also offers reporting tools so you can see who’s opening your emails and clicking through on links — invaluable information when you’re trying to figure out what kind of content resonates with your audience.
Apps like Mailchimp, ActiveCampaign, and ConstantContact also help you comply with spam laws by including an opt-out link in every email. And they make it easy to build forms to collect e-mail addresses on your website and social media.
What content to include in your emails
No one wants an inbox full of ads. So what kind of content can you include in email marketing for a local business that won’t turn people off?
First, think about what you like to find in your own email box and what you immediately delete or never open.
If you’re like most people, you enjoy seeing discounts, special promotions, and information that makes your life better. You probably don’t enjoy reading content that is basically a sales brochure for a business.
Your goal should be to share your team’s expertise in ways that benefit your target market.
For example, if you’re marketing an HVAC business, you can share seasonal maintenance tips, ways to save money on heating and cooling, and timely bargains on heating and AC tune-ups. Avoid writing a lot of sales copy for your business, but it’s OK to include a call to action with your contact information at the end.
This type of content is valuable to the reader and establishes you as a friendly, helpful business with lots of industry expertise. When the person who’s been receiving these emails
Pro tip: Make your work pay off twice by publishing this content on a blog on your website. You can keep your emails short and sweet and link to the blog for more info, and the blog post will live forever on your website, hopefully bringing you search traffic.
Email marketing for small business: A smart move
By offering valuable information, discounts, promotions, and seasonal tips tailored to their needs, you can establish yourself as an industry expert while increasing your business’s sales.
You may start with a small list and not see a lot of instant payoff from your email marketing. But with the right list-building strategy and content plan in place, you’ll be building a system that will drive more leads into your sales funnel and boost brand loyalty over time.
Here’s another tip for local businesses: You can speed up your growth curve and make your life easier with ServiceWorks software.
This affordable app lets your customers and prospects schedule their own service on your website. It also optimizes routes and schedules, improves communication, manages inventory and warranty information, and even helps with billing and credit card processing. It’s like a back office staff in a box — and you can try ServiceWorks for free, no credit card required.