Emails lists are a crucial component of any marketing campaign and customer relationship strategy these days.
In fact, a recent survey of internet marketers carried out by Webtrends found that email is the most popular marketing technique used by companies. But with so many rules and guidelines prohibiting the sending of unsolicited emails, how can you fairly – and effectively – build up a list of contacts?
Use every opportunity
Online is not the only place you can gather email addresses from potential customers and clients. Use trade shows, seminars, business meetings and any other face-to-face opportunity to get people signed up to your mailing list.
And if your company sells goods and services online, you can ask your customers if they wish to sign up for further communications during the check-out process, or via the follow-up invoice email. Consider adding subscription information to all transactional and business emails that you send. You should also consider adding ‘Subscribe to our newsletter’ links to all your employee email signatures.
Your company’s direct (print) mail content, brochures, catalogues and posters should also include information on how customers can subscribe to your email list.
And get your sales and call centre staff to ask for email addresses when they are talking to customers.
Research from IMT Strategies found that 76 percent of consumers will delete an unsolicited email without reading it, compared with 2 percent for a permission-based email. Similarly, only 5 percent of consumers described themselves as eager or curious to read an unsolicited email, compared with 61 percent with permission email.
Getting permission before sending someone an email is not just polite, it’s in your legal interest to do so. (See the Data Protection Commissioner’s website for more information on the legal issues involved.) Sending unsolicited emails can also cause problems with your internet service provider and could even lead to the cancellation of your internet service, if your company is believed to be spamming other internet users.
It takes time to build a permission-based email list, but it’s worth it. By getting the client or potential customer’s permission, you can avoid legal liability and build trust, and you will certainly have a higher response rate than you could expect from sending emails to people who aren’t expecting to hear from your company.
Simplify the process
Put a ‘subscribe’ box on each page of your website, so that visitors can easily join your email list.
Say hello, wave goodbye
Make it as easy to unsubscribe from your email list as it is to sign up. Otherwise you run the risk of gaining a bad reputation or, worse still, being labelled a spammer. Make sure to include an opt-out option on all your marketing and newsletter emails. And keep the unsubscribe process simple.
Gather useful information
Without turning the sign-up procedure into a laborious task, try to gather useful information during the process, in addition to just an email address. Useful information includes name, the format of email preference (plain text or HTML, which can carry text, pictures, and all the visual bells and whistles of a media-rich marketing campaign) and information preferences.
By gathering this extra information at the sign-up stage, you can customise your marketing emails and newsletters for each individual.
Make their day
While news about your company might fascinate some people – especially your competitors – chances are that most customers won’t be all that interested in the latest goings on at HQ. So, as an incentive, consider making special offers, discounts and reward schemes available to those who sign up to your email list.
Make sure links to your privacy and email policies are displayed not just on your company website, but also at the foot of every email you send. This builds trust and shows your clients that you care about their privacy concerns. Make sure your contacts know that you will not send anyone’s email address or contact information to a third party without their permission.
Encourage existing subscribers to forward your newsletter or marketing email to friends and colleagues. A ‘forward to a friend’ link in your email could enable this functionality quickly and easily. If you do decide to go this route, make sure to include a subscribe link in all your marketing emails.
Search engine optimisation
One way to increase readership of your emails is to optimise current and archived newsletters on your company site for search engine placement. This can quickly increase traffic and, consequently, the number of subscriptions. If your company has invested in search services like Google AdWords, consider including email subscription information on the first page that web visitors see when they visit your site.
Source: Enterprise Ireland’s e-Business Live