Even the best email marketing content in the world doesn’t matter very much if there’s no one to whom you can send it. For some organizations, a robust email database can be the cornerstone for driving demand, nurturing leads and helping continue a strong customer experience after a sale is made.
Then there are the organizations -- let’s just admit it’s the majority -- whose email list may leave something to be desired.
It’s not just a matter of collecting a large number of email addresses. Over the past several years several laws have emerged which make it clear that any business communication can only be sent to those who have a clear and established relationship of some kind. The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) rules, for instance, are designed to ensure business professionals aren’t getting bombarded with unsolicited marketing from companies they’ve never encountered before.
While this might seem to make building a better email marketing list more challenging, it actually helps ensure that the quality of your database becomes much more important than the quantity. By working harder to have customers and prospects opt in to hear more from you via email in the future, you stand a much better chance of achieving a healthier open rate and click-throughs back to your website.
That also means marketing teams should bear in mind that building a better email list is not merely a matter of buying or renting names and addresses from someone else. It’s about weaving the list-building process into day-to-day activities, along with some more tactical projects, to get the names and addresses you need over time. You don’t always need a large list to get great results initially, but if your list keeps growing you’ll be able to set even more ambitious marketing goals in 2019 and beyond.
All of the following are helpful ideas, but the first one may be the most important step:
There are all kinds of businesses that will have a little box somewhere on their website that says something along the lines of, “Sign Up To Receive Updates!” followed by a field for someone to put in their address. This often yields poor results, for a number of reasons. In the first place, many people might not be sure what kind of email content they’ll be receiving, how often they’ll receive it and how else their contact information might be used.
Instead, develop a more thoughtful and enticing invitation to join your email database. This could include:
Instead of randomly including your invitation on your homepage, think about the journey your site visitors might be taking and introduce the offer to become part of the list accordingly.
When someone moves from your homepage to visit the “About Us” section, for instance, it might make sense to include a line after the text about your firm’s background and focus areas that they can learn more by signing up to your email marketing list. Similarly, a lot of companies overlook inviting people to opt in when they visit the “Contact Us” area that normally includes a physical address and phone numbers.
If you’re using a form to gate marketing assets like white papers for lead generation, make sure to include a checkbox that lets them know they can also receive ongoing communications in addition to being contacted by a sales person in relation to what they’re downloading.
If you host conferences or even simple breakfast roundtables and one-off events, there should be opt-in opportunities throughout the experience.
Let’s say your sales team conducts personal outreach to a group of prospects they’ve met at other industry gatherings. Their email could include a link to opt into your database, whether they can make it to your event or not.
During the event itself, encourage attendees to visit a landing page on your site with sign-up information using a shortened URL you show on a slide. If you’ve gotten permission to email them follow-up materials after the event, give them one more chance to sign up for more regular marketing communications that might interest them.
If your firm is already active on platforms like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, you may be sharing links to your blog posts and other landing pages, or responding to comments and questions with other URLs on your site. As you track the kind of referral traffic you get from social media, make sure at least some of the links you’re sharing will lead people back to pages where there’s a chance to opt into your email marketing list. Or create posts for social that talk about what kind of content your email subscribers are enjoying.
Most people in a company are sending out individual messages to various contacts all day long. You may already have a standard email signature that includes their title, company logo and phone number. Try putting a one-liner that “sells” the idea of joining your email marketing list as part of that signature, maybe with a link back to a page that goes through the benefits in more detail.
Even if you have a small email marketing audience today, hopefully they’re finding value in what you’re sending out. If that’s the case, include a line or buttons that let them easily share to their own social networks or forward via e-mail to colleagues and peers in other firms. Those messages, of course, should include opt-in links back to your site, which means those who get the forward may want to get the same kind of thing in the future.
There will always be some customers who simply make a purchase and then choose to disappear. There are others, though, who might think twice if the offer to opt in to your database is also included on the kinds of communications they have to receive, such as an invoice or bill you send, or a receipt for their purchase. Again, make sure there’s no question about why they should want to be part of your database -- this is a “sales pitch” all its own, but in some ways not that different than how you create a desire for your actually products.
If you try all of these tactics, you may wind up brainstorming even more -- which means email marketing may become your audiences’ communications channel of choice.