As a local business looking to take advantage of local search marketing and potential customers using the internet to find you there is an activity that you really MUST engage in.

One of the most important aspects of having an online business (after conducting research) is to be building a list of subscribers.

This list will contain people who have signed up to hear from you on a regular basis and they will often sign up because you have offered them an incentive like a free download, free course or some other gift.

Your local business can also take advantage of list building because you too can encourage your offline customers to go online and sign up to receive information from you – as long as you make your offer attractive enough many of them will be happy to do that, plus you have the added benefit of attracting new customers searching online.

The process of building a subscriber list is fairly easy but you may need some support with the slightly technical side of adding code to your website/blog.

The first thing you will need is a reliable autoresponder service. This service automates the whole process of people signing up and receiving your messages. You create your signup box and from that moment everything is left to the autoresponder sequence to send out. You can sometimes get a free service with your hosting but it is never worth using that service because if you leave your hosting company you lose your subscriber list or you have to go through the trouble of getting them to sign up before you leave.
An independent autoresponder service has other advantages including protecting you from spam complaints.

One that I use and recommend is Aweber : http://bestautoresponse.aweber.com

Sometimes people sign up for information and then forget a few months later so when they receive your email they think you are spamming them. Spam complaints are now taken very seriously but a professional autoresponder service will look into the complaint rather than shut you down and ask questions later. They will have a record of when the person signed up, the date, time, day and their IP address so they will know whether this was a genuine spam complaint or not.

The only other thing you need once you have your autoresponder is information to place in your autoresponder. Some people like to include several weeks worth of information that is sent out every three or four days. Other people send out information daily, some weekly and some once a month.

There has been a lot of debate on how often you should send out emails to your subscribers and the one thing everyone agrees on is it is better to send it too often than not often enough because people forget. At least once a week is the minimum, three times a week is a good general number and more than that should be monitored to see what response you get. If you find people unsubscribe soon after joining you may want to cut back on the daily emails.

Of course this article is assuming you already have some kind of web presence ā€“ either a website or blog that people will be visiting and invited to sign up ā€“ because without that it will be difficult to make your offer to them.

When making your offer make sure you include the benefits of signing up, anything in particular that is relevant to people who join, what they will receive and how often they will receive it.

The best way to get your offline customers to sign up is to hand out flyers of your online incentive. Let them know that when they join they have an opportunity to receive subscriber only discounts and you share information only available to subscribers.

Offline businesses can really do a lot to take advantage of the internet and it is important to begin looking at how your local business might benefit from online activities and bring in new customers. I can think of no easier way than to build a list of past and present customers that you regularly send out emails too.

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