Our list of 900 is now down to 50! What happened?
It feels like a bucket of cold water thrown in your face.
Your beloved clients, the ones you’d move heaven and earth for, the ones you’ve worked to nurture and spoil over the years suddenly tell you they don’t want to hear from you any longer.
When you have a traditional business, the decline of clients may almost go unnoticed. Maybe you haven’t seen someone for a while, but until you run into her somewhere else, you really don’t think about it. New clients come in and there’s ebb and flow.
Taking that successful business online, however, can quickly separate your client list into two groups:
- Those who continue to love you, appreciate all you’ve done for them and are worthy of your time and
- The people who were using you, never really liked you, don’t understand the value you offer and aren’t worth your time.
I’m kidding, of course. The truth is, however, moving your successful offline business to the online world can make you feel just that way. And when it happens, it almost always takes the excited new online business owner by complete surprise.
Most people don’t realize building a customer base online is a completely different process than building one for a physical location. Believing your list of people who love to shop at your store, eat at your restaurant, or attend your live events will want to hear from you in their email inbox is a bad assumption that could cost you a lot of time and money.
This makes perfect sense if you think about it.
When people come to you in person, they are looking for a certain type of experience. Maybe it’s that you know exactly the size and style of the dresses she likes to wear. Maybe he likes the coffee and donuts you serve in the waiting room while he waits for his coaching appointment or maybe you are the most gentle dentist in town.
When you start to move your business online, you’re changing that experience for them. Sure, they can still go to your physical location, but it’s entirely possible they don’t care what you’re up to online.
Maybe they don’t especially like email, or tech, or surfing the web. Perhaps they don’t think of dentists or dog grooming when they are on their computer. There’s a disconnect for them. So when you email to tell them about your new online idea they don’t care. If they want to see you, they’ll stop by your office. So they unsubscribe from your list if they’re bold, or if they don’t want to hurt your feelings, they just don’t open or respond to your emails.
This doesn’t make them a bad client and it doesn’t mean your business won’t work. What it means is that now you have two separate audiences for your message: online and offline. Some of your offline clients will definitely follow you online, but not all of them will. The huge email list you used to send notifications of special events, coupons and extended hours, will dwindle over time. You may even (gasp) get unsubscribes. A lot of them. Before you know it, your email list of thousands becomes a list of hundreds. Or less.
And there are rules to consider, serious ones. Last week I wrote about the CAN-SPAM law, it’s one you need to know about, no matter the size of your list.
When taking your business online, you need to understand the importance of building an entirely new type of list: one that is already online and can’t wait to meet you there. Don’t worry, you already know so much about your traditional clients you have a head start! The best news? Going online will open up a whole new world of additional clients who can’t wait to work with you.
Free feedback! How do you plan to move your list online and make sure they are happy to be on your new online journey with you? Post below if you’d like feedback on your idea!