Becoming popular online


Brent Renneke, Associate Editor
September 17, 2012
Filed under Brent Renneke

For many small businesses today, online marketing is the primary way to market their company or product, but the success of such a campaign is often dependent on the number of people in your virtual audience. And there is a right and wrong way to increase that reach.

In this recent post by James O’Brien in OPEN Forum, O’Brien outlines black-hat marketing techniques where small business owners knowingly – and often unknowingly – grow their email lists using tactics outlawed by the Federal Trade Commission.

For one, any business sending unsolicited emails to people risks losing its account with its Internet service provider, in addition to being placed on consumer-protection spam-block lists and incurring fines, according to O’Brien.

Also, business owners must offer an opt-out option where people can unsubscribe from a newsletter. By not doing so, O’Brien said fines could be up to $16,000 per email.

In reading this year’s Top 100 applications, it is apparent many dealers were more innovative in how they grow their list for e-newsletters, as well as adding followers and “Likes” on Twitter and Facebook.

For example, Traverse Bay Marine in Traverse City, Mich., ran a giveaway contest where its customers had to simply “Like” the dealership’s Facebook page to enter. Traverse Bay partnered with a local television station to give away a Sea-Doo personal watercraft. If those who entered shared the post about the giveaway, they were given another entry in the contest. Today, the dealership has nearly 1,900 “Likes.”

Contests in general are a great way to incentivize people registering for your newsletter or gain notoriety on social media. For example, the first 10 people to leave a recommendation on Michigan City, Ind.-based B & E Marine’s Facebook page received a free ticket to the local boat show. Pairing the contest with other interactive strategies, B & E’s Facebook page now has more than 4,000 “Likes.”

It is also easier than ever for someone today to opt-in to receive your newsletter with the use of QR codes. Customers can scan a QR code placed on your marketing materials that will bring them to a webpage where they can register their email address.

For more ways to grow your email-marketing list, Andrew Pitre’s Hubspot Blog details many innovative methods to build your company’s online audience.


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