You and I are in agreement that email marketing rocks, right? Once you make that conclusion, the next logical step is to start thinking about your email list.
Some people I talk to want to wait until they "build up a nice list" before they get started in email marketing. These are the same people I talk to a year later who are still “getting ready."
The trick here is to just get started with what you have. Even as an individual, if you start digging you'll actually be able to put together 50 to 100 names and email addresses just from people you know. You might be thinking – hey, this isn’t my target market. Don’t worry, they are your friends and want to support what you are doing so they’ll be happy to read your newsletter. Besides, they may not be your target market, but they may know people who are. If they don't want to get it, they'll unsubscribe - don't take it personally.
Then grab that stack of business cards you have in your desk and contact those people one-by-one asking for permission to stay in touch via email more regularly. Next, immediately schedule yourself to attend or host a Biznik event or two in your neighborhood where you know you can make 20 or 30 new contacts (get a business card) - asking each person for permission to stay in touch. Now book yourself a speaking engagement if you have good content to share and ask attendees to sign up. Before you know it, your list will feel like it's growing very fast.
The other reason you need to get started with what you have is that email addresses age and die. If you are in touch regularly, it allows people to update their email address with you. If you start "next year" many of your email addresses will already be dead.
Look for Contact Points
One of our clients sells deluxe automobile roof top tents and collects maybe 2 new contacts per day from his website's "join our email list" form. While all website owners should have a join form, that's about the only place he was adding to his list. One day on the phone I overheard him having a long conversation with a prospective customer. I asked him how many phone calls he gets a day and he told me 15-20. I strongly encouraged him to ask for an email address at the end of these phone calls. He just sent us 800 new people for his list, so apparently it’s working.
Where else are you contacting your customers? At the Point of Sale? During outbound calls? If you are attending trade shows you must collect names and email addresses or you shouldn't bother even showing up. Are you speaking at events or trade shows? Figure out how to give your audience an easy way to sign up for more information via email on the spot. Do you do deliveries? That’s another time to ask.
Measure and Reward
If you own a company you know that your people only pay attention to the things that are measured, recognized or rewarded. Since collecting email addresses may be another new thing they are expected to do – make sure they understand the importance of it. You do that by measuring it, recognizing good performance and rewarding the behavior.
Name your Newsletter
It's a small thing, but asking people if they want to sign up for your email marketing newsletter isn't exactly compelling. "Do you belong to our Savvy Insider's Club?" however (which is the name of a client's newsletter) has much more sex appeal. Mor Furniture calls theirs the VIP List and who doesn't want to be a VIP? Since we’re on the topic, if you like this article why not sign up for “Rock the Inbox” and get Email Broadcast’s newsletter.
Should you Purchase an Email List?
I have conversations all the time with new or prospective clients asking if they can buy an email list from me. The answer of course is absolutely not - but it's important that you understand the reasoning behind the answer.
I understand that this whole email thing would be a lot easier if it was possible to buy a quality list of prospects eager to hear from you, but it's a fantasy. The sooner you let go, the better. People usually want to buy a list so they can have a “big” email list. Focus not on the size of your list, but on the quality of the contacts. Would you rather have a list of 1000 people where nobody cares about your information, or a list of 100 people who are eager to get your email? I’ll take the smaller list all day long.
Focus on Content
Many people are concerned for me when I write articles like this one that seem to give away important company secrets on how we "Do Email Marketing Right." I tell them to relax because I know that content is king. You can build the biggest and best list ever, but if you don't give people what they want to read - why bother? I know that if I can deliver valuable, relevant content for my readers it will pay off in the end.
Besides, we're looking for 100 great customers at Email Broadcast, not a million. If we provide the best information available, companies that want the best will seek us out. I also know that if our content really hits the mark, our recipients might even forward the message and those people may sign up to receive their own copy of our newsletter - helping us grow a quality list.
Think about it for just a second. Is there anyone you know who might enjoy this article? Thanks in advance for forwarding this to a friend (look to the left column under my picture for the button). See how easy that is!
Get Relevant Details from the Start
When you are collecting people for your email list, make sure you get enough information from them to treat them like they are special - because they are. This varies depending on your business - but it's pretty easy to figure out what to ask for. First, always ask for someone's name in addition to his or her email address. Then dig into the industry specific information.
If you sell computers maybe you should also know if someone is a Mac or a PC, or uses both. If you offer guided fishing and hunting tours maybe you should know if your clients are purely fisherman, purely hunters, or do both. Sell clothes? Maybe Gender is important for your future emails. Yacht Broker? Maybe sailing vs. power boats is important for you to know. Florist? How about asking for an anniversary date or spouse's birthday?
Think about it and start collecting this information from the beginning. It will be much easier to deliver relevant content using list segmentation and trigger messages down the road.
Hopefully these tips on how to build an email marketing list have been helpful - here's a quick review:
- Just start with what you have, right now. Go ahead, we’ll wait. Really.
- Consider all the points of contact you have with prospects/customers and use the best ones to consistently collect email info.
- Get your people on board. Measure and recognize good performance.
- Always ask permission before adding anyone to your list, and give it a cool name.
- Build your list correctly, and disregard temptation of list buying as fools’ gold.
- Deliver great content and your list will grow virally.
- Collect more than just an email address so you can make content relevant.