Hopefully you use your contact list to communicate regularly with customers and potential clients. You do…have a contact list…right? We sure hope so. But if not, you’re not alone. Local business owners everywhere battle the necessary evils of managing customer (and potential customer) information so you can keep in touch and sell more stuff.

Whether you have a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place or not, building a list you can use doesn’t have feel like conquering Mount Everest.

6 of the most common mistakes small businesses make when building a contact list:

1. Making it Difficult to Join Your Contact List

I mean this with love…don’t be creepy when you ask for someone’s info. The pros start by asking for as little information as possible up front, which makes it feel less like a big commitment on the potential customer’s part. Try asking for an email (and that’s it) at first. Then, you can collect name and phone number once you’ve better established the relationship.

2. Hyper-Focusing on Customers and Forgetting about Leads

Most local business owners start collecting information at the point of sale. Unfortunately, not everyone who comes in contact with your business is ready to buy right away. So snagging their contact information early is crucial. Then, if you’re smart (and you are), you’ll nurture these relationships with targeted promotions to help maintain familiarity with your business’s brand.

3. Forgetting Opt-in Forms on Your Website

Your main goal for your website is probably to attract new customers and get them to buy from you. So you’ve got a prominently placed “Contact Us” or “Buy Now” button on several pages of your site. But your site could also be collecting leads for you. If you don’t have a place where potential customers could sign up for special offers, you should! This is how you can collect information for potential leads and nurture them until you seal the deal. Pro tip: One of the most intuitive and non-intrusive ways to include an opt-in form on your site is to maintain a blog. Site visitors who like the information you’re sharing will want to opt in to receive more!

4. Dismissing the Idea of a Pop-Up

A lot of local business owners have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to pop-ups. That’s because as consumers, we tend to find them a bit annoying. Despite our perception, the facts don’t lie – they’re effective.

Need some convincing? According to Sumo:

  • The top 10% highest-performing pop-ups averaged a 9.28% conversion rate. And, by conversion rate, we mean someone who saw a pop-up and took action.
  • The average conversion rate for all pop-ups is 3.09%. (That’s incredibly high!)

The best performing pop-ups have a few things in common:

  • They don’t appear right off the bat. They are triggered when an action takes place, like someone leaving your site or reaching a certain spot within a blog post. This gives users a chance to get to know you a bit before you ask for their information.
  • They have “human” copy. Instead of asking your site visitors to “subscribe,” ask if they’d like to “keep in touch.” A more casual tone is less intimidating and converts at much higher rates.
  • They set expectations. They make it very clear exactly what a site visitor will gain by opting in. Anything vague is likely to scare off potential leads.

5. Failing to Offer an Incentive

You’ve heard the saying “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” Similarly, no one is going to give you their information without receiving something in return. (We’ve all been burned by spammy businesses. Stop sending me postcards, already!) But you don’t have to give away too much in exchange for someone’s information. Most of the time, a 10% off coupon or “weekly promotions” are enough to entice a subscription to your communications.

6. Not Following Through

You likely got each individual’s contact information in exchange for something (see #5) – special offers, information about your business, blog posts or something else of value. Now that you’ve got the information, you absolutely cannot drop the ball on following up.

  • Ensure you have an auto-responder. This could be in the form of an email or text message that’s automatically sent to the end user upon subscription. Include information about your business, why they’re receiving communications from you, and set expectations for what’s to come next. For example, if you send emails monthly, tell your audience to be looking for them in their inboxes!
  • Make right on your promise. Whatever you offered, deliver it. And deliver it on time, every time.
  • Make it possible to unsubscribe from your contact list. Whether you’re communicating via text or email, the law says you have to make it possible for someone who’s opted in to change their mind. Bummer, we know. But it’s good business.