Oct 2011 28

5 steps to building a valuable email list

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Posted October 28, 2011 by |  

Email marketing has been around for a long time. It’s an effective way to market your business – it’s simple, direct and far-reaching.

But what we often don’t take advantage of properly is the effectiveness of email to bring in new customers and then retain them. So here are 5 things you can do today to help you make that happen for your business.

1. Set up a mailing list

Any email marketing campaign needs to start at the beginning with building the requisite list of email addresses.  While there are various ways this can be done, it's imperative you’re familiar with the legal issues surrounding how you can obtain email addresses for marketing use; there is a difference between vaguely implied consent and deliberately expressed consent.

While it's certainly possible to buy lists, it is far better to compile your own list from those who have signed up of their own accord.

"If you’re building a list, generate it through an opt-in subscription form on your site rather than forking out for a huge but dodgy list. Buying it is essentially creating spam, simple as that." insists Luke Chambers, managing director of Experia Digital.

And it’s clear that you're more likely to get positive responses to your marketing emails from recipients who have 'opted in'.

"It’s one of the great things about email marketing," Chambers continues. "If you’ve done it  right with an opt-in list, your recipients are much happier to receive the information. I’ve had several clients who’ve sent a newsletter further down the track have gotten the big sale they’d been working towards, primarily because of the emails."

The key element in building an 'opt-in' list is to provide website visitors with numerous opportunities to sign up.

"Businesses should be looking seriously at using their touch points with potential customers and be asking for an email address wherever possible," says Chambers. "This includes things like right at the point of sale, at industry events, during sales calls and of course on the website."

Steven, one of Experia Digital’s clients, also concurs. "I push our newsletter super hard through the blog. If you have a look at it, you will see there’s at least four options per page to join the list. I’m always playing with new ways to tie it in."

Transparency is imperative to getting a good response and helps sell the idea of signing up for a newsletter.

"To get the best results you must make it clear why people will benefit from signing up to your email newsletter," says Chambers. "It could be incentives like member-only offers, discounted sales, invites to special events, or access to useful information they might not easily find elsewhere."

Chambers also recommends using a ‘forward to a friend’ approach.

"If you send out an email to your own subscribers that then contains an incentive to forward it on to friends, you’ll vastly improve your advertising reach." he says. "It also develops a culture of people talking about your business, and obviously if I heard about a business through a friend, it’s a lot more meaningful than having the business send me an unsolicited email."

2. Give them what they want

Good content is the lifeblood of email marketing, and writing it properly comes from developing a deep understanding of what will be of interest to your subscriber base.

"Everything comes back to the content," smiles Chambers. "You have to constantly ask yourself 'what is useful to my readers?' If you're a garden supplies business it's not necessarily useful to your readers to know that you’re stocking a new weed killer, but it might be useful to them to know how to deal with weeds and improve their gardening skills. So, if you’re constantly keeping in mind the perspective 'what would I honestly be interested in receiving?' you’ll do far better."

3. Strike a balance between content and promotion

Adding genuine value rather than a gimmicky promotion is going to improve your conversion rate. Not everyone is going to be interested in a promotion, so keep your subscribers interested by keeping the focus on content that will be of value to them.

"It’s essential to send a careful mixture of promotional, informative and educational messages," says Chambers. "Unless your customers buy from you regularly, bombarding their inboxes with promotional emails is going to create fatigue and people will lose interest and simply unsubscribe."

The real challenge is to match your email content to the interests of your database. Amongst Experia Digital’s clients, Chambers identifies an environmental conservation group that uses email to distribute stories about the ecological and community benefits of various current projects in local areas, a personal trainer who provides fitness advice to their database, and a number of online retailers that use email to entice recipients with real-life practical or unique stories about how people use their products.

4. Use auto-responder sequences

A general wariness of spam and a widespread information overload has a major impact on subscription to email newsletters. Experia’s client Steven uses the auto-response function in his email marketing software to offer a four-week ‘inspiration series’ newsletter, as a way of enticing people to then subscribe to the main list.

"It makes it less of a barrier for people to commit," he explains. "Upfront we make it clear you’re only going to hear from us for four weeks, that you’re only going to hear once a week, and that what you’re going to hear something will be useful to you. As Luke promised us originally, by the end of the month the end result is that there aren’t many people who don’t sign up to the main mailing list."


5. Be human and personable

Taking a personal interest in your email database, as far as is practicable, will result in more attentive and forgiving subscribers.

For example, a few days after a visitor signs up to Steven’s newsletter list, they receive a friendly auto-response message from his business asking if they are receiving what they expected to, and whether they could use any help.

"What shocked me was the number of people who replied to it to say ‘Yeah, I’m getting it! It’s really helpful, I have a question,’" says Steven. "It started as just a way of checking that people had been safely receiving messages, but people actually take it as a personal response."

Steven says this kind of approach also fosters a better vendor-customer relationship, which impacts on conversion as well as accountability.

"I get a much better conversion rate from my mailing list than I do from just putting something on the website," he says. "That’s because we build an honest relationship with people, helped by things like sending personalised email. I’ve found it just creates a completely different dynamic between myself and my customers."

You can create and send your own great looking emails with Experia Digital’s Newsletter Manager. Have a no-obligation talk with us and find out how it can get your email marketing off the ground.

 
 

Last modified by Owen Mangai on Oct 28, 05:38 PM | Back to top

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