Did you know?
This gap between email marketing and direct marketing looks set to close this year. During 2005 more than 3.2 billion commercial emails and 5 million pieces of direct mail were sent. Email is predicted to increase 43% during 2006 and the Direct Marketing Association suggests that email will be the most widely used form of direct marketing in the UK during 2007.
Introduction to Email List Building
Whether you intend to begin devising an email marketing campaign, or you are already running an email marketing strategy, there is one vital element which is key to your success…
A Good Quality, In-House, Email List.
You could have the most attractive and appealing creative campaign, coupled with a rock solid offer, but if you are sending it to the wrong people, or worse still, the email is not being delivered at all, because the address is wrong, your campaign will not be successful.
It is extremely important that your list is permission based. There has been a lot of media coverage regarding spam, and rightly so. The effect a non permission based list could have on your email marketing campaign, is one that should not be underestimated.
Therefore, it is very important that you use an opt-in process and preferably a double opt-in, when aggregating new subscribers.
Building Your In-House Email List
Fortunately, there are a number of different methods which you can use to help build a quality email list. The following list, although by no means exhaustive, will certainly help you on your way to developing your in-house email list.
Consider what would be of value to your recipients. If you operate in a specific industry, do you have access to up to date industry news? If not, how can you go about providing good quality news content? Although you may want to include your own company news items, this on its own may not be a big enough draw for your target audience.
The key here is in understanding your audience and reflecting this in the newsletter. The more targeted your list, the more appropriate you can make the content. For example if you are sending a newsletter which has a very generic subject, say travel, it is difficult to target the recipient with the correct type of content and offer. But, if you have a profiled list, you will know that I have a budget of £500 and like to take weekend city breaks, therefore your content and offers should reflect this.
Perhaps you have access to industry statistics. People love reading interesting statistics about their own areas of interest.
Online polls are very easy to create; you could include an online poll on your website, or on the newsletter itself. This is good for provoking interaction with your audience and you can publish the results in the following newsletter.
Of course, when someone subscribes for the first time you may not have any information about this subscriber, other than an email address and maybe a name. That’s where email marketing really comes in to its own.
Every newsletter you send out should help you to profile your recipients. Has the recipient opened the email? What have they clicked on? Did they respond? etc. etc. It is extremely important that this information is analysed, then you can begin to segment your audience into groups of recipients by subject. When we have a profiled database, we can then set about sending far more relevant newsletters and the more relevant the newsletter, the more productive it will be for you.
Remember, content is very important. The content is why subscribers decide to want to receive your messages and what makes them want to continue receiving your messages. After all the hard work you have gone to, to gain the subscription, you don’t want them to unsubscribe because the information you send them is of no value.
The mechanism you use, needs to be very easy to find and very easy to use. Your website should have an advertisement on many pages recommending that the visitor subscribes. At the same time you must do a good selling job. Outline exactly what the visitor will receive in exchange for providing their email address.
Although it’s nice to gather information about your subscribers, the point of subscription is not the place to ask too many questions. Keep the subscription process light. By light, start with the minimum requirements, for example the email address. Then look at ways further down the line to build a profile. The lower the barriers to entry, the more subscribers you will receive.
3rd Party Lists
Using a 3rd party list, also known as a ‘bought in list’, sometimes looks like a quick way to increase the size of your database. But, caution is required. As with all data lists, there is a range of quality available with email data.
Beware of cheap lists, particularly those that offer millions of contacts for £300. Many lists are overused. Email lists need to be updated regularly and become out of date very quickly. Your reputation could be damaged by using an out of date, over used list.
Do your research on the list supplier, do they advocate good practice, will they provide details of how the contacts opted in to receive emails, for example?
Ensure that your staff or telesales company have an up to date script, which outlines the benefits your subscribers receive from the newsletter.
Then make sure that every client and prospect is asked the question, “You’d like to receive relevant information regarding X, wouldn’t you?”
Document the date of the call and remember to offer the subscriber the opportunity to opt out of future mailings on each message.
Other Forms of Communication
Use every opportunity available to you. If it fits with your branding, why
not draw attention to your email list on your company stationery. Another
great position to sell your email subscription is on the signature of all
of your emails. Make sure you create a hyperlinked description to make it
very easy to locate the correct web address and take the visitor directly
to the subscription
process whenever possible.
For the vast majority of companies, building an in house email database should be as natural as keeping a list of prospect and customer telephone numbers.
Of course, you must be aware that certain methods and processes need to be considered first to make sure you achieve your objective. Building an email list without meticulous preparation and possibly outside help, can result in creating more harm than good.
That said, once you have your strategy in place, email marketing to a quality in house list is one of the most effective, low cost, forms of marketing available.
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