Bold statement but it is true. So many companies I talk to are sitting on a fantastic email list but don’t know it.

A recent study shows that 60% of marketeers admit that the biggest barrier to effective email marketing is the quality of their email database. Well, to help address this concern, here are my 5 steps to building a golden email list:

Step 1 : Customers. Customers, Customers.

This should always be the foundation of your email list – your customers! These are people who you know are interested in your products and services. Why are you not contacting them? Email your current customers, encourage up-sells or repeat purchases.

However… If your business runs a subscription model, contacting your customers could be negative. Recently I was speaking to a gym. They suggested that when running a subscription business model, a certain amount of your customers are categorised as ‘sleepers’. You buy a gym membership, pay the monthly subscription, but forget about it and don’t go. This gym suggested that the worst thing you can do is ‘wake a sleeper’. Reminding someone that they have a gym membership may prompt them to cancel!

 

 

Step 2: Newsletter signup form.

This one is a biggie, if used correctly can be a goldmine for building great email newsletter subscribers. If you have not done so already, add a newsletter signup form to your: website, blog and social network pages.

Burying a newsletter signup block on your site somewhere will do nothing. Consider the placement.

Place your block on areas which are going to get noticed. I would recommend:

  • Side bars
  • Top of your pages
  • On your about us page.

I would even suggest considering a popup window. Traditionally popups used to be frowned upon, but recently more and more sites are using this approach successfully. But use it tactfully.

Eliminate clutter. Don’t hide your newsletter signup form amongst website clutter. It simply will not get noticed. If you are hitting your user with too many propositions on a web page, research shows that they find it daunting and simply walk away.

Make your website signup form, big bold and de-clutter your pages.

 

 

Step 3: Don’t use soft opt-in.

Automatically subscribing users to your email newsletter by hiding a statement in your terms of service is a little deceptive. You will be adding users who do not want to receive your email – this is bad news! Users who have not specifically asked to receive your email result in spam complaints. Spam complaints result in a poor sender reputation. What does a poor sender reputation mean? In a nutshell, your email will be rejected or go straight into the spam folder.

Along with soft opt-in being a little deceptive. It can be suggested that this is in breach of the law. Did you know that John Lewis where fined this summer for adopting this procedure. Scary eh? I would not risk it.

 

 

Step 4: Don’t use no opt-in at all.

And by this I mean a purchased list or a random list you have found on the internet. If you choose to go down the route of buying an email database, well to be frank, you are wasting your money. Here is what will happen –

1. You get spam complains.
2. Recipients email and phone you complaining.
3. Your next campaign goes straight into junk due to previous spam complaints.
4. Your ESP gives you the boot for spamming.

And as John Lewis found out for using a soft opt-in, you risk a financial penalty from the information commissioner. Using no-opt in aka purchased is an even bigger risk.

I know what you are going to say next: ‘I was assured my purchased list is opt-in’.
Think it through a little. You are suggesting that recipients within your email database have asked for their details to be sold on to 3rd parties. If someone phones you up and asks – ‘can I sell your details on at a profit please, oh and i’m not going to pay you for this’. If you agree to this proposition, I suggest that you need your head examined.

 

 

Step 5: It’s not about online.

One of the most common misconceptions is that email marketing is exclusively online based. False.

Do you run trade shows? Ask people you speak to for their email address (to join your mailer).

Face to face meeting with a client. This is a great opportunity to ask clients for their email address.

Conferences, tutorials, expos? – all great opportunities.

Remember to give users a reason to join. My local gym ran a great campaign recently. They asked visitors to put their business card in a pot – explaining that this was to join their mailing list. What’s in it for me? Well, they would pick one business card and give them a free night stay in the attached hotel. That certainly convinced me to join.