Building Your Customer Database Offline

March 14, 2016 - 8 minutes read

As a business owner, you want your customers to come back. And you want to be able to communicate with your customers.

Depending on your type of business the last one isn’t always easy. If you have a shop, restaurant, or some other kind of bricks and mortar business (as opposed to purely online) you may not have contact details for your customers. And if you do not have those details you cannot communicate with them directly when they are not at your place of business.

Why should you want to communicate with them?

You want to let your customers know what is going in your business that is RELEVANT to them. This could be a new product launch, a special event, or a temporary offer on an existing service.

Being relevant is important. You want your customers to like the fact that you are communicating with them. You do not want to be seen as a nuisance because the whole idea behind this communication is that eventually you will want to sell them (more of) what it is you have to sell.

Why is this direct form of communication important?

If you can contact the people who already have been to your business by means of a newsletter, you know that at least have been interested in your business once before. In trying to reach people through social media or advertising you have no idea if they are interested in your specific business. So when you use email marketing to reach people who have already expressed an interest in your business and have signed up for your newsletter, you know that you are not wasting your marketing budget.

So you want to build a list…

Indeed, you want to build a list. A list of people who give you PERMISSION to email them. The permission part is important, because if people do not want to receive your information it is no use communicating it to them anyway. Besides, legally you are not allowed to do so. It is called spam.

5 Quick ways to build a list offline

There are lots of ways to build an email list through your website and such, but this post focusses on brick and mortar businesses, not on online businesses.

  1. Although QR codes are a bit dated, you could have one in your place of business, on the wall or on a receipt or anything else that people can scan with their smartphone and consequently sign up to your email list. You can simply put the link to your Sign Up form in the QR code and people can sign up with their smartphone. You can make QR codes here, and of course, you need an email marketing program. I recommend Aweber (affiliate link).
  2. You can have a list at your cash register where people can sign up, or you can present a card when you present the bill, where people can fill out their contact data and then give it to you. In this case, you will have to manually add the contact data to your email marketing program. Depending on the email marketing software you use, they will then have to confirm they want to receive your newsletter.
  3. Another good way is that you ask people when they pay if you can mail them a discount coupon they can use during their next visit to your place of business. They need to give you their email address and you can ask them if they want to sign up for your newsletter when you mail them the coupon.
  4. You can ask people to give their contact details to be entered into a drawing for a free something of whatever it is that you are selling. Or some other type of contest.
  5. Ask if they want to participate in an online survey. You need their contact data and in the mail with the link to the survey you can ask if they want to sign up for your newsletter.

Of course, you can combine the above or come up with your own stuff.

What NOT to do

  • Do not ask people to give contact data of families or friends. It is all about permission and people can only give permission for themselves.
  • Do not overload people with messages. There are lots of really successful business people out there that send a newsletter every day, but I unsubscribe from those rather fast. It is just too much clutter in my mailbox.
  • Send them via your regular email. Email marketing software may cost you money but you get information on the effectiveness of your efforts. You can tell how many people opened your mail and how many people clicked on which links, which emails bounced etc. etc.

What to do

  • Send relevant information that drives sales and inspires loyalty to your business and brand. Your audience consists of your customers; they are not your family or friends.
  • Stick to the rules and laws for email marketing that apply in your country and that are set by your email marketing software provider.
  • Make a plan for your emails. This can be as simple as a schedule with your business activities such as promotions, events, sales, etc. and connecting the content of your email to those activities and of course the dates.
  • Make a plan for building your list. How will you collect offline and also think about how you will collect online as well (more on that in a future post).
  • Select email marketing software. We work with Aweber (affiliate link).
  • Set up your messages and autoresponders in your email marketing software, so you have an automated messaging system.
  • Plan time in your agenda and execute.
  • Evaluate your efforts.

And if you have any questions, please let me know.