Email Marketing Lesson 1: List Building

In this first of several installments we’re working with email marketing company Campaignerto provide you with some real world guidance in how to improve your email marketing. Campaigner is an e-mail marketing solution that enables organizations to have personalized one-to-one e-mail dialogues with their customers, measure how they respond, and analyze those responses.
This first installment is about list building by Melanie Attia, Product Marketing Manager for Campaigner.
Download the free eBook The Small Business Guide to Email Marketing: Top Tips to Get You Started visit
Despite all the hype over social media, research among consumers is showing that email is still the most effective way to reach out to customers and prospects – and move them to action.
A study by the Direct Marketing Association shows that email marketing drove $26 billion in sales in 2009, and is expected to result in $27.9 billion in 2010. Social media, on the other hand, accounted for only $14.3 billion in sales in 2009. Email marketing also had the highest return on investment at $43.62 for every dollar spent.
So it’s obvious that it works – if you know what you’re doing. But what if you’re not an email marketing expert? How can you take advantage of all that marketing power when your expertise is in showing houses, or selling homemade jams, or running a quaint little inn on the shores of Maine?
That’s what this series is going to address. We’re going to follow Suzanne Martens, the founder and sole full-time employee of the fictional Suzanne’s Snow and Ski Shoppe, on her adventure as she learns the basics of email marketing one step at a time.
Putting an effective, high-quality mailing list together
Since this is Suzanne’s first foray into email marketing, she knows she needs to put together a mailing list. After all, the greatest, most creative email campaign in the world isn’t going to her much good if she doesn’t have anyone to whom to send it.
But where to get the names? She has a few names and email addresses from customers with whom she’s communicated over the last couple of years over various matters. They’re sitting in a “Customers” address book in Outlook. She wonders whether she should start there.

The answer is yes…and no. Yes, she should gather those names and import them into the email campaign service or software she’s going to use to build her campaigns. But before she starts sending them promotional emails she needs to send a different message first. She needs to ask their permission to put them on her permanent mailing list.
Asking permission is important, both from a legal and a customer service standpoint. We all receive a lot of junk email/spam that doesn’t interest us, and after a while we become annoyed with the people who send it. In addition, the CAN-SPAM Act prohibits sending email to anyone who has not given their permission. So the proper thing to do with these names is for Suzanne to send them an email explaining what she plans to do (send out occasional emails that help recipients plan for the ski season, alert them to special offers, give them first notice about sales, etc.), and then ask if they would like to be added to her mailing list.
That’s the easy part, especially if her email campaign tool makes importing lists from other sources easy. But Suzanne knows there’s a much bigger world out there. She needs to reach out to the people she doesn’t know. How will she get to them?
She’s seen some ads offering to sell lists of names in her area. It sounds tempting, especially because it would be a lot easier than accumulating the names herself. But it doesn’t quite feel right.
Suzanne is right to trust her instincts. Purchased lists are rarely worth the money invested in them. Just because the people on that list gave one company permission to email them doesn’t mean they want to hear from anyone else. A purchased list should not be a consideration.
What Suzanne knows is she has a brisk walk-in business. Every customer who makes a purchase, even if it’s just a $7 pair of knit mittens, should be asked if they would like to be included on the mailing list for Suzanne’s new newsletter. If they say yes, whoever is ringing up their sale can ask them for their email address, or hand them a card to fill out. Suzanne should also have cards available for shoppers who don’t buy anything today but want to sign up anyway.
If she wants to encourage more sign-ups, Suzanne can even offer an incentive – either something small such as a stick of lip balm, or something more valuable such as a pair of snow-ready sunglass.
Suzanne’s website is another great source to use in building her mailing list. She can place a “Join our mailing list” announcement on the front page, the “About” or “Contact Us” page, and anywhere else it seems to fit. The announcement should include a link to a simple form asking for a name and email address, perhaps a city and/or state if it matters, and a birth date if she wants to send birthday greetings.
Since Suzanne often ships orders, especially around the holidays, she should include a small announcement with each package, encouraging the person who receives the package to join her mailing list. She can offer a coupon code for a discount on certain items that will be emailed after sign-up, or even a free gift.
Building a quality mailing list doesn’t happen overnight. But by taking advantage of all the resources at her disposal, Suzanne is well on her way to generating some of that hefty ROI we talked about in the beginning.
Next week we’ll look at ways to personalize the email beyond just inserting a name at the beginning.

One thought on “Email Marketing Lesson 1: List Building

  1. jkuras2010

    Permission based email is an absolute. Never try to send emails to those that did not sign up or give you permission to send. That is the easiest way to become a spammer.

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