A woman passes along a business card to a potential business connection

Imagine a prospect walks into your place of business and offers you a card. “I’m not ready to buy, but I’d be happy to receive more information about special offers, new products, or other news. Here’s my contact information,” the prospect says.

Would you refuse to take the card? It’s not a trick question.

Every day, prospects visit your virtual place of business when they go to your web site. They’re interested in what you sell, and they’re willing to share their contact information. If your site does not offer them an easy way to join your email list, you are “refusing the card.”

Creating the virtual fish bowl to collect contact cards is easy. Here are four steps to make your web site a list-building machine:

1) Select a reputable software service that enables you to create, deliver, and track commercial emails. These services include built-in sign-up forms that you can drop into your web site.

2) Place the form in a prominent spot on the front page of your web site. Don’t bury it where visitors have to scroll to find it.

3) Give prospects a reason to subscribe. Explain what’s in it for them. Describe the great content you will send them.

4) Assure prospects that you’ll protect their privacy. Promise that you won’t share or sell their information and keep that promise.

When a prospect joins your mailing list, you can share your message with them when you choose. If you “refuse the card,” you can only hope that the prospect will remember you later.

This article first appeared in St. Louis Small Business Monthly for which Tom Ruwitch writes a monthly marketing column.


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