One of the very first things I did when I started my business was to start building my house list. Now, my house list has over 12,000 people on it. It’s been an extremely important asset in growing my business.

You might be wondering, what’s a “house list”?  Simply, it’s a database of prospects, current clients, and past clients that have contacted you in some way, usually by completing a form on your website, because they are interested in learning more about you and what you do.  The more information on your list, the better, but the 2 basic information points are name and email address of the prospect or client. This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to market your business to people that are interested in the services that you have to offer.

To build a house list, you need to begin collecting the names and email addresses of every person that comes in contact with your business. Ask for the info on phone calls and place an opt-in form on your website and on social media. Whenever somebody calls your business or fills out your opt in form you will now have their email address and you can email future marketing messages to them.

Why Is It Important To Build A House List?

Building an email list is crucial because it’s one of the most affordable and effective ways to build a relationship with prospective parents. Staying in front of your prospects through helpful and engaging emails is one of the fastest ways to establish trust with them and thus maximize your enrollment. You become the trusted expert and friend, and are then “top of mind” when a parent is ready to enroll.

You might not have space in your 3 year old classroom when a parent calls you today, but in a couple of weeks when you have an unexpected opening, being able to email the prospects on your list with this news will help to fill that space quickly. It will also allow you to stay in touch with families that are interested in your programs, but aren’t ready to enroll quite yet.

You can even use an email list to make additional income for your school with new revenue streams by sending offers to your “house list”.  Perhaps you are offering enrichment classes to the community, or want to promote a fundraiser for your school. Sending some emails to your house list is a great way to get the word out to people you KNOW are interested in your school.

How Can I Get People to Give Me Their Info or Fill Out My Form?

So, now you may be wondering, “Yes, I can see that building a list is important, but how do I do it? Where do I even start?” The answer to that is pretty simple. There are a couple of ways to build your list, but the simple answer is that you need to offer them something of value in exchange for their information. Here are a couple of ways you can accomplish that:

1. Phone Calls – Ask for it on the phone. The first step is creating a simple e-packet, which is a packet of information about your school, including the rates and some parent testimonials. Then save it as a PDF. When a parent calls and is inquiring about your school and your rates, respond with “Yes, I’d be happy to help you with that. I have a great packet of information about our school that includes the rate schedule. Can I get your email address real quick so I can send it to you?” Of course, I hope you are able to collect a lot more information from them to aid you in segmenting your marketing later….but if you at least get their name and email address, Voilla! they are on your house list!

2.Your Website – An opt-in form on your website allows people to sign up to get more information anytime they visit your website. I am sure you have seen them before. The best way to get someone to give you their name and email address is by having an IFO (Irrestible Free Offer) on your website. This is usually in the form of a free report, video or series of videos, or a free gift.

The easiest way to implement this is to create a free report (or e-book), and have your web developer add it to your website. “Get our Free Report: 10 Tips to Make the Most of Family Time.” And then have a photo of the “book cover” and your opt in form directly under that. Offer some piece of information that parents would be interested in, and they will share their email address to get it.

Here are a few more topic ideas for free reports you could create:

  • 10 easy meal ideas for busy parents
  • 5 tips to help your preschooler sleep better (or infant, or toddler)
  • 10 summertime activities to do with preschool children
  • Consumer awareness guide to choosing child care
  • Child Care: Six warning signs to avoid
  • The working parents guide to…….

Bottom line, you need to have something of value to offer people in exchange for their contact information. The quality of your offer will directly determine the quality and quantity of your list.

3. Social Media – Include links to your opt-in form on social media. You can write posts promoting your free guide and include the link so they can just “click it and get it.” You can also add a “sign up” button on your Facebook page. Just go to your business page. Under the cover photo there will be a button that says “Add button.” Click that and choose “Get in touch,” then “Sign Up.” Insert the link to your opt in form, and now people will have a way to sign up for your offer right through your Facebook page.

What Do I Do with All These Names, Now That I Have Them?

Great, so now you are well on your way to building your house list! Now you need to start COMMUNICATING WITH THEM. People enroll their children with programs they “know, like and trust,” so the more you are sending them useful information that helps to build a relationship and establishes your child care program as an authority in your area, the more they will feel like they know you, like you and trust you. You will become the child care expert and a trusted adviser in their eyes.

To effectively and efficiently communicate with your prospects, and automate the whole process, you will want to build an email drip campaign that introduces your school and its unique features, shares some helpful parenting and early childhood information, and invites them to tour and enroll. This way, when someone opts in to your list, first they are automatically sent the free report with the IFO attached, and then they get a series of additional automated emails over the next several weeks that allows you to continue putting your message in front of them.

Additionally, when you have openings at your school, or special events, you can blast this out to your whole list of names and get the message out there fast!

If you are really great at collecting detailed information from your prospects, such as the child’s name and birth date, you will be able to further segment your lists for more targeted messages. So, for instance, if you had an opening in the 2 year old classroom, you could send a blast out to only families that had children in that age group. Combining your house list with email marketing can be a powerful way to fill all the open spots in your center.

How Can I Learn More?

If you’d like to learn more about list building and email marketing we are hosting a free webinar next week: “Email Marketing Success Masterclass.”