Email Marketing Tips – Part 1: List Building


In this series of articles, we’ll explore the best tips to run successful email marketing tips. Email marketing, despite all the options available in an evolving digital world, is still the most personal and effective way to market services… if it’s done right.

I was enamored by one of the first email marketing pieces I received. It was simple text, as they all were way back when, and was entertaining and informative. There were only three small points to it, so it took no more time at all to read, but the thoughts it provoked stayed with me until the next issue would arrive a week later.

It was from a small design studio and it was called “The Hip-O-Meter.” The three entries were fun facts and spotlights on interesting and unique designed objects, books or products and went by “hip,” “hipper,” and “hippest.” It closed with a small paragraph, hawking the advantages of using the small studio’s services and the number of subscribers who received the email newsletter. I saw it go from just over 100 to over 4,000 within a few months.

This inspired me to do the same for the corporation I was with. Meant for my department, it included images, links and animated gifs with 10-12 entries per weekly newsletter. The department had about 100 people in it but in a matter of months, the subscriber list within the company had the newsletter going out to every department and the worldwide distribution was received by over 25,000 employees.

These days, I look forward to certain emails. My car dealer always sends discount coupons, has lots of things I want (but can’t afford), Bed Bath and Beyond sends discount notices and so on with a few favorite retailers and service companies. That’s why I don’t unsubscribe from their mailing lists.

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So, how would a business or sole-proprietorship make use of email marketing? Most importantly, how would these entities build a list of people who WANT to receive their emails?

List Building

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Start With “The Hook”

“The Hook,” as it’s known in sales, is something that will grab the attention of a target customer and is a call-to-action to get them to willingly give you their contact information. An email marketing program that offers discount coupons, tips or information not readily available to customers, is a good hook to get people to sign up and open your emails.

Use your existing customers

Not only are your existing customers the biggest base for your email list, they are also the strongest force to share your emails with their friends (the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth advertising). If you do not have access to their emails through the other information you might have as part of your business dealings with them, it’s time to start gathering their email addresses.

Online business deal

When you service a new customer, be sure to ask for their email contact information but for existing customers, either use a phone call method (as they are familiar with your business, tell them you are updating your clint information). This is also a good way to remind customers/clients about your company if you have not seen them in a while.

Put an ad on your own site, for your own business

An eye-catching ad on your site’s sidebar or in with your content, advertising your email coupons and such will get people to opt-in (willingly elect to receive your emails). While you’re collecting opt-ins for emails, you should also collect Twitter names as well as encouraging people to follow you on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or any other social media channels your business uses.

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The more content tied to that ad (the click-thru should go to the advertised offer and have other services/products for sale listed as well. Use the hook to sell as well as gather information. Check out OptimizePress as a great tool for converting click-thrus to customers.

You might also want to consider a Lightbox Pop-up to your site, instead of an add. Unfortunately, many browsers have a pop-up blocker, so it’s a crap shoot on how well it may work for you.

Encourage People to Send Your Content to Others

Use share buttons to get viewers of your blog/site to share content on their own social media channels with a button or request to opt-in to your emails. For example, if your site has a blurb about a sale or new product, make it sharable so it can go viral.

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Use LinkedIn Contacts

If you spend a good amount of time making connections on LinkedIn, why not download their cards and add them to your email list? As long as you give them an opt-out option, there will be no problem with spamming.

You can also participate in appropriate LinkedIn groups as well as use your status update function to drive like-minded prospects to your email opt-in sign up page.

Guest Blogging

There’s at least a thousand blogs for every type of business, so use your knowledge to write (or hire a ghost writer) to post interesting content on assorted blogs to peek the interest of prospective clients and drive them to your opt-in page. Top blogs reach millions of readers, so why not grab some attention for yourself?

Buying lists

Don’t! Also, never, ever sell your list.

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Are You Spamming?

When people opt-in, they are giving you permission to send them your emails (purchased lists are not opt-ins and can be VERY dangerous!). With LinkedIn, every email I receive starts by explaining that I am connected with the sender. Okay, that makes me feel a bit more at ease but the content is what usually upsets me. It’s hard sell, multi-level marketing pitches and I consider MLM to be scams. The important thing is that I do open it when the subject line includes, “connection on LinkedIn.” The problem is when there is no option to opt-out.

Deal with opt-out request QUICKLY! One of the strengths of an email marketing service is that opt-outs are automatically deleted. If you are doing it yourself and someone gets three or more emails after opting-out, you may face a spam charge. Spam laws are harsh and can bankrupt your business. Be familiar with them before you do your first mailing.

Check Out Email Services

In preparation to start your email marketing, start shopping for email services. Maybe you’ve heard of Constant Contact and while the mention of them is not a recommendation, there are many companies that offer different services for different prices. Be careful about Googling “email marketing services” as some sites have their own “top ten reviews” with their company at the top. Check out this site. Keep in mind you want a service that will allow you to upload vcards for ease of setting up your list. You may have over a thousand connections on LinkedIn and can download one vcard file but you should be able to upload that file effectively and correctly.

Next time: Creating winning content for your email marketing.


Images ©GL Stock Images

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