Your email marketing initiatives are only as good as the list of addresses to which you’re sending them. Ideally, you want to email people who have already expressed an interest in receiving messages from your company. So you want people to opt-in to your emails. There are a number of ways to collect email addresses for marketing and promotional purposes. Here are a few ideas:
- Website registration. Always have an email signup on your home page. Make it clear what you are offering and how often a person can expect to receive emails from you. The more transparent you are, the more likely you are to get sign-ups.
- Lead-gen offers. Offer a free e-book, whitepaper, app, or other resource, and require an email address to get the offer. Promote it on your website, Facebook, and Twitter.
- Host a webinar. Provide some educational information that has value and require emails to register for the event.
- Custom Facebook tab. Add an email signup as a custom tab on your Facebook page.
- Offline events. Collect addresses at events like trade shows, import them into your database, and send a Welcome email to confirm the-opt in to your list.
- Encourage forwarding. Include social sharing buttons and an “Email to a friend” button on emails to current customers to broaden your reach of potential signups through email forwards. Include a “Subscribe” button so those receiving the forwarded emails have an easy way to opt-in.
- Cross-sell. Include your email subscription information on all other marketing materials, including brochures, ads, and direct mail.
Building a quality list is an ongoing operation. The online marketing experts at HubSpot estimate that an email database degrades by about 25% every year. This is due to people changing email addresses, opting out, or simply abandoning old addresses they may have used when filling out online opt-in forms.
So, you need to constantly add new contacts to your database (using the tips above), and you need to keep current subscribers around. Pushing out great content is the best way to maintain your audience. Valuable content will keep people interested and make it more likely they will share the information with friends and colleagues – and less likely to click that unsubscribe button.
Should You Buy Lists?
As you can see, building and managing good lists takes some work. You might be tempted to simply go out and buy some pre-fab lists, thinking you’ll have a bucket of instant contacts who will line up to buy your stuff. Most email experts advise against buying lists. These lists tend to be filled with low quality and unused email addresses. They are the opposite of opt-in. None of the people on a purchased list have opted in to receiving emails from your company, so your emails will appear unsolicited. Instead, take the time to build relationships with trusted customers and treat them right. It will pay off in the long run.