Email is one of the most traditional yet powerful marketing tools available, enabling direct contact with the customer and affording online brands a more personal voice. Whilst design and content are crucial to any email strategy, ensuring your well-crafted message reaches the right people is just as important. With HubSpot estimating that email marketing lists naturally degrade by 22.5% every year, the need for regular and thorough upkeep of your database is unavoidable. This can seem like a mammoth task, but with a few simple strategies, you can soon have your list looking shipshape.
1. Regular Cleansing
When it comes to building and maintaining contact lists, one of the biggest – and most common – mistakes is to prioritise quantity over quality. It’s easy to assume that a higher volume of contacts equates to increased brand awareness, but this is certainly not the case. Continuing to email disengaged contacts purely for the sake of numbers is extremely counterproductive; at best, your message will fall on deaf ears, and at worst, you will be marked as spam. Thus, weeding out those addresses that are no longer valid – or simply not interested anymore – is up there with lead generation. Contacts may become stagnant for a number of reasons that aren’t necessarily related to your brand; the connection can be lost simply through people changing email address, moving company or focusing more on other channels. Either way, such contacts do nothing to further your cause and are best removed from your email list. A simple yet effective way to spring-clean your list is to run a re-opt-in campaign. Craft a brief yet friendly message asking contacts to re-opt-in if they wish to continue receiving your emails, whilst committing to remove those who don’t respond.
2. New Lead Generation
With regular list “cleansing”, your email database will no doubt shrink, and this is where new lead generation comes in. Actively and organically acquiring fresh contacts is the only way to ensure that your database flourishes and continues to serve as a valuable asset. Strategies for new lead generation include:
Using your current contacts: The names already in your list are full of potential, not only for conversions but also for new leads. Encourage your contacts to share your emails with their own friends, family and professional networks simply by incorporating call-to-action buttons such as “send this to a friend.” Likewise, integrate social share buttons, making it easy for recipients to instantly spread your message via Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms should they wish to do so. For a more proactive campaign, you could also offer incentives, such as a 10% discount code in return for spreading the word.
Providing valuable content: We never stop hearing how content is king – and for very good reason. Outstanding content is the backbone of any online business, and, when used in the right way, can be an extremely powerful tool for building up your email list. Examples of great lead-gen content include e-books, whitepapers, infographics and webinars, and this approach is very much win-win; your prospects gain access to valuable content in return for their email address, and you set yourself apart as an industry expert whilst filling your database with active, engaged contacts.
Leveraging social media: The power of social media is seemingly limitless, and this can only be good news for lead generation. As well as promoting all of your lead-gen content, including a prominent sign-up CTA (call-to-action) across all social platforms will help to convert your followers into email addresses. Given that these audiences already have an active interest in your brand, social media is a great source of high-quality contacts.
Optimising your website: Although it may sound simple, the importance of placing call-to-action buttons in prime locations throughout your website is not to be overlooked. Provide plenty of opportunity for potential customers to join your email list by featuring a clear CTA on the most important pages of your site, such as the homepage. Additionally, increase your chances of gathering names by being transparent; let people know exactly what they will be signing up for, be it regular offers, industry updates or seasonal trends.
3. Name Retention
In addition to generating new leads, it’s essential to look after the ones you already have. It’s one thing to acquire a contact, but keeping them engaged requires a little more effort. To this end, a large part of your list maintenance strategy should focus on segmenting your data and creating personalised, highly relevant emails for each target group. Using specialised email software such as Newsletter2Go can help to establish appropriate target groups within your data whilst greatly reducing the need for manual list management. Having separated your list based on demographic, psychographic or behavioural qualities, the chances of providing them with relevant emails – and thus the chances of keeping them in your list – are significantly higher.
The common factor among these three strategies is that they focus on filling your database with contacts who know your brand, are engaged with it in some way and have an active interest in hearing from you. This is something that can only be achieved organically, and purchasing email lists should be avoided at all costs. One of the biggest issues with buying a list is that the names on it have most likely never heard of you, and even if they have, they will have no recollection of signing up for your emails in particular. Not only does this fill your list with disengaged contacts – the very same contacts you have worked hard to eliminate – it also means that the first encounter these people have with your brand is via an unwanted email. This undoubtedly contributes towards a negative reputation and undermines your value as a brand. Ultimately, a genuinely relevant, high-quality list of email addresses would not be for sale; the cultivator of that list would not diminish its value by sharing it with competitors. On the other hand, the above approaches will enable you to grow your list naturally and fill it with contacts who are relevant to your brand, giving your email marketing strategy its best shot at success.
header image courtesy of Catalin Mihut