Are you a cybersquatter?
Do you rely on borrowed or leased bandwidth to run your business?
If Etsy shut down your shop tomorrow,
how screwed would you be?
Lisa got the answer the hard way when Etsy suspended her jewelry shop. Gut wrenching to read, she shared her story on Handmadeology.
It’s great that Lisa found a way to set up another shop — except any returning customers had no clue what happened or where to find the new shop. It’s not like Etsy would let her leave a note on her old shop page, right?
Getting her own URL was a great step.
However, there’s a more effective way to build your business.
BUILD YOUR CUSTOMER LIST
Your customers are your business, the most valuable part of your business. Making sure you never lose contact with them is the smartest business tactic you can use.
Your list is YOURS.
- You own it
- You control it
- No one can shut it down
- No one can take it away from you
Use your list to announce new product launches, specials collections, sales or any thing you’d like your customers to know.
And if Etsy ever pulls the plug on your shop, you can contact your customers and let them know where else they can find you.
BONUS: IT’S EASY MARKETING
Just as you sign up with your favorite companies to get their product and sales updates by email, your customers (current and potential) will sign up with you.
This is the most effective marketing you can do.
Email marketing is the most cost and time effective marketing there is.
Think about it. You’ll be talking to people who told you that they want to hear about your products or services.
Build your customer list with a professional email service.
- keep your emails from landing in your customers’ spam folders
- provide forms to copy-and-paste where you want them
- easily send 1,000s of emails instantly
- give you stats on how many customers opened your email
- give you stats on how many customers clicked on any links you included in your email
There are several email services available. Some services will restrict the content of your emails. Some services have rates that go up as your list grows or if you want more than one list. Some services suck at staying out of spam folders.
That’s why I recommend Aweber* to build your list. For a little less than 20 bucks a month, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing that your customer list is safely in your hands.
With Aweber, you can have as many different lists as you want, for as many businesses as you want and send to as many people as you want. Their prebuilt forms come in handy for HTML-challenged people like me.*Full disclosure: The link to Aweber is an affiliate link. If you like and buy the service from this recommendation, Indiepreneur receives a referral commission.
No matter which email service you choose, sign up with one of them. This is really important! An email list is the most valuable investment you’ll make in your business. Hands down.
Once you’re signed up, everything you do from that point on should funnel customers to your email list. Every. Single. Customer.
Put sign-up forms on:
- your blog
- your website
- your Facebook page
Put an invite to join your email list on your:
- business cards
- thank you notes
- packing slips
- sales tags
- signs at shows
- your email signature
- and any other business correspondence you do
A QR code is great to electronically send customers right to the form.
HOW TO USE INCENTIVES
Incentives are little bonuses for customers who sign up for your list. Right now, I’m offering a free copy of a soon to be released ebook as a way of thanking people who opt-in to the Indiepreneur list.
You may not need an incentive for your business, but it’s still a nice thing to do for your customers.
A discount on their next purchase would be nice. Or give your customers exclusive access to a special collection at low member-only prices. Use your imagination to come up with incentives that fit your business.
PROTECT YOUR LIST
Customers trust you with their email addresses. Please respect that and them by not inundating them with emails. Don’t sell or lease their address to other companies. You may, from time to time and at your discretion, recommend another business your customers might enjoy. But don’t over do it.
Be sure to download your list from your service on a monthly basis — just in case something happens to the main server. Aweber has a one click back up and export button that will email you a spreadsheet of your customers.
CYBERSQUAT THE RIGHT WAY
Cybersquatting is using someone else’s bandwidth to run your business.
The harsh truth is that you don’t own your shop on Etsy. That digital space belongs to them. Tick them off and your shop is outta there.
You don’t own your page on Facebook or your Twitter account. Should your favorite social network shut down or your account get hijacked, you will lose all those followers, likers and potential customers with no way of contacting them — unless they’re on your list. (Facebook’s solution to a hijacked page is to delete it and have you start over. How much would that suck?)
Etsy, eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. are free and easy marketing tools. Absolutely take advantage of them.
But never forget that you don’t own those tools. Making them the foundation of your business is not a sensible Indiepreneur tactic.
Invest in and build with tools that you own and you control.
Make sure any screwing by Etsy won’t cost you your business.