A lot of folks today might assume that email for marketing is passe’ and outdated and both search and social media are where the latest marketing efforts should be. However, email marketing continues to be one of the cheapest methods of communication to consumers, either individual or businesses, with one of the highest returns of profitability on the time and work invested. All one has to do is consider the ramifications; with a working email list one simply needs to send out one message that reaches hundreds or thousands of recipients. And if that effort, which usually takes about 30 minutes at best, produces even one sale it probably pays for itself 10 times over. So why would any business not consider email marketing lists even today? It is practically a winning solution for developing awareness as well as generating revenue. The key factor, of course, is, just like before the Internet, having a viable mailing list.
Starting the Build
In most cases, a business already has the foundational start for an email mailing list. If anything even close to a customer account system is being maintained for sales orders, including contact information, that same database can be easily converted into a working email mailing list with a bit of conversion using common tools. If all the above sounds like techno-gibberish, just understand that your existing customer data is your first place to go and build with.
Second, with a foundation or just starting out with nothing if you have no customer accounts yet, the next place to go is email collection sources. This can be approached in two ways: either you can create form entry on your social media or website pages to capture peoples information if they provide or you can buy contact lists from parties who have already built them. However, the third-party alternative comes with a bit of a price tag, and a lot of headaches. Purchasing email lists for sale are frowned upon for a lot of reasons. There’s a high risk you could end up being labelled as spam, which will hurt your business reputation and can be very hard to repair. Second, if you’re emailing folks in Europe with a third-party list, it could run into legal problems as EU consumer protection against the use of private contact data is fairly stringent. Finally, there’s the issue that pre-built lists are very likely not specific to your business and a good portion may have no relation whatsoever to your product or service.
If you are going to create an email mailing list from scratch, savvy use of social media is your best friend. A good example would be Oculus’ early virtual reality startup approach. They utilized YouTube, social media, and video to show off their product and service with an early prototype that had not even been put in production yet. But the idea was developed enough to show people digitally. Provided a channel for contact through a weblink and form, folks gave Oculus thousands of contact points in a matter of days, developing one of the most robust email lists for VR interest ever. So, a list build doesn’t take a long time. You just need to package it right online so that it attracts attention, and people will hand over their contact information willingly.
Managing the Build
Once your email list gets going, you will want to have some kind of data control over it. Nomenclature and structure of your database are essential, as well as having someone who understands how to collect, sort, format and structure that data. The tools, again, are not complex. Very functional mailing lists can be built, sliced, filtered and re-used. However, the know-how comes with someone who really understands and enjoys managing data fields extensively. That person, whether on your staff now or as a hire, is essential to the evolution of your mailing list into multiple versions that can be pulled for different purposes. Without that skill, your database of the email will begin to suffer from duplication, errors, bad info and data corruption very quickly.
Remember, your email marketing database is a channel of communication with customers and would-be accounts. So, it reflects your business. Take some time to ask your recipients what they would like to see and hear about. The more you tailor your email communications to your audience, the more valuable it will be. And they will then share it with others who will also want to receive the same, organically growing your database over time. Your email contacts are not a one-time message point, so don’t treat them that way. Instead, communicate with your email marketing lists as a partnership, and they will respond in kind.