Google is a powerhouse in the online world – search engines, video sharing sites, maps, smart phone sat nav, SEO and today’s post is to talk to you a little bit about a lesser known feature that it has – which for an online, sorry ANY business owner is a little bit of dynamite for their communication weaponry with their clients and prospects.
Enter GOOGLE GROUPS – something that is really quite well hidden inside of Google’s dashboard but if you head on over to the “more” section in the top tool bar, followed by “even more” then you will find them. It’s almost like it’s a little secret they want to keep from you, and throughout this post you will end up seeing why (I hope)
Aside from the obvious “forum” set up that you can add to your website, much like we have done at Bizzebee here (yep, no expensive outlay for building a forum into your existing website, this is all free of charge courtesy of Google)
A Google group can also be a great place to actually start building up a free email / subscription list.
It wasn’t until VERY recently I became aware of this feature, but thanks to my BNI networking group I am a member of near my hometown, I came across the email facility, which then got my cogs ticking over.
When you join want to join a Google group, you are normally logged into your Google account, therefore notifications would be delivered to the email address that is associated with your Google account – as an example mine is [email protected] – however, you can request to join ANY Google group and associate it with any email address you like, any owner of a Google group and add people to the group by inviting them by email – once accepted that email address is associated with the group and your notifications for the group hit your inbox.
Here’s the great thing about this – YOU DON’T NEED TO PHYSICALLY GO TO THE GOOGLE GROUP TO RESPOND OR POST A QUESTION OR SEND AN EMAIL (perhaps an offer) TO THE GROUP MEMBERS.
Because each group has it’s own unique address that is set up when the group is created for example our one for Bizzebee is [email protected] as soon as you are a group member you can write an email out to that address (from your email client) and it will deliver to all the members in the group. Likewise when replying it will reach all group members too.
It has a really great capability because you don’t need to go looking for the group – when a conversation or forum question is asked you get the information direct into your inbox – so its really convenient for busy business people.
So imagine the capability of a large group – if you really are an extensive member of the Google community, and manage to successfully gain members (and there are various ways in which you can do this) you have a large network literally at your fingertips, which won’t take hours away from time with procrastination!
Some suggestions for any business owners out there on this one from me would be to communicate with all existing customers and explain you are introducing a really great new Forum that will allow customers to share experiences and communicate with you in a public format, and by accepting invitations to join will allow them to keep in touch with you about special offers and any important product information and updates.
I’ve recently added my family’s printing business whole existing client database to a group, and amended the settings so that when they reply to any messages we post out are only coming back to me directly. We are testing this out as a different form of email marketing to see if it has any different results to the normal kind of email marketing. (Incidentally each customer has been notified of the invitation and encouraged to join, by giving them a nice freebie with their next order if we see they are a part of this Google group)
Rather than explain here step by step the set up process, (which is pretty versatile and extremely straightforward) what I’ve done is create a short video that shows you the set up and how to utilize it from your email client inbox too. You can view that video over at our YouTube channel here.
I don’t believe that Google groups are at all a replacement for email marketing products such as Aweber, but for someone in a start up mode with little free cash around to spend, it could be a really great start up tool, as all you need to do is dedicate yourself some time and go out and graft to get the group’s numbers up!
Are you a member of any Google Groups?
The Bizzebee Colony group can be joined by clicking here