Unless you live in my world, digital marketing is usually a lot less exciting than having a beer in the pub. But however far-fetched the analogy may seem, these scenarios actually have a lot of parallels.

Expecting someone to land on the home page of your website and be so wowed by your offering that they immediately make a purchase, is simply not realistic.

It's a little like approaching a girl in a bar who you've never met before, and asking her to sleep with you.Click To Tweet

Unless you’re incredibly good-looking, with an insanely witty punchline, and just happen to hit on the right girl, it’s not very likely that you’re going to get lucky that evening.  Worse still, you’ve probably blown your chances with that particular stunner for good.

Now I’m no dating guru, but I would suggest that a more successful approach would be to buy her a drink and engage in some kind of conversation.  Bingo!  Your chances have probably just tripled.  Do you see where I’m going with this?

So what’s this got to do with marketing? 

The same principle applies with your potential customers.  You need to establish a rapport first.

There’s lots of different ways you can do this, through social media engagement, networking, events, email marketing and many more.

But email marketing is the main focus here.  This is data that you own.  It’s not a rented list, or reliant on your Facebook account which could come crashing down on you for any number of reasons.  If you’ve ever heard the phrase ‘the money is in the list’, this is what they’re referring to. One of the key objectives of your marketing should be to build a list of email addresses so that you can keep in touch with your potential customers.  This enables you to develop a relationship with them, build trust and integrity in your brand, and advise them of product launches, offers, awards, new services etc.  If you have already started having a conversation with people who are looking for your kind of product/service, you’re far more likely to secure purchases from them in the future.

Best still, email marketing is inexpensive and can run on auto pilot.

The lead magnet approach

In order to build a list, it’s common to have a newsletter sign up form on a website, but a far more effective method is to offer a ‘white paper’ which offers information of value to your visitor, in exchange for their email address.  This is often referred to as a lead magnet.

The white paper is not a sales pitch for your service – it is simply informative, but it’s stuffed full of tips, advice and expertise which your target market is hungry for. Examples include something along the lines of ‘5 pitfalls of buying a house, and how to avoid them’, or ‘the 10 best gifts to win your mother-in-law over’, or anything which is likely to engage the interest of visitors to your site and offer them something of value.

Checklists and toolkits (lists of resources) typically make great white papers.

So next time you’re creating a piece of marketing material, revisit the pub analogy, where the bar is your market place, the girl is your potential customer, your chat up line is your headline and that good looking guy that you are, is your product.  Best invest in a decent shirt, eh?