Though growing your email database takes time and effort, when done correctly, it will house your most qualified and responsive leads. A well structured email database will enable you to boost sales with more targeted messages and offers, extend the lifecycle of any campaign and increase customer retention with regular and relevant communications.
Consider the following techniques to acquire new leads and grow your email list with success:
1. Who is your ideal lead and how do you reach them? Create a profile for your best customer(s). This should include things such as age, gender, hobbies, job function, how they shop (online or at stores), where they shop, what they read, what websites they visit, etc. Depending on the product or service you are marketing, some of the above will be more relevant than others. For example, if you are marketing a clothing line, job function will be less relevant than where and how they shop, where as if you are marketing a trade publication, job function and industry will be extremely important.
2. Analyze your competition. Take some time to find out what your competitors are doing to build their email lists. Start off by going to their websites. Then do a web search on your competition as well as relevant key words, and take note of any banners / CPC ads that appear. Be sure to click through to check out what their landing pages look like and what type of information they are choosing to capture. If they have an e-newsletter, sign up for it. This is an easy way to start receiving their email campaigns. All of these steps will help you find out what type of promotions they are running, any marketing alliances they have formed, and how they are positioning their product or service.
3. Reach your best customer. Once you've created your customer profile(s) and finished your competitive analysis, you are ready to develop your list growth strategy. Your strategy can include initiatives such as: banner ads on websites that your target audience visits, a PPC campaign, direct mail or email campaigns to magazine subscriber opt-in lists, etc. You can also approach other products or service providers for co-promotions or mutually beneficial partnerships. Starting an e-newsletter or a blog for your company are great ways to grow your list as long as your content is desirable. The lifecycle of any campaign can be extended with behavior-based trigger emails.
4. Your offer is everything! Unless your offer is relevant to the recipient, they will not respond to your campaign. Your offer will need to prompt the recipient to make a purchase or willingly give you their information in exchange for something they want. For instance, you might send an email introducing your company to a magazine subscriber opt-in list that you know your target audience reads. By including a free downloadable premium such as an industry salary guide, a list of the hottest bars in town, or a best practices whitepaper – what ever might be most relevant to your target audience – recipients will need to provide their email address and demographic information in order to download the premium. Once you've captured their information and they've opted-in to your database, you will be able to communicate with that lead on an ongoing basis.
5. Your offer is almost everything! Unless the recipients receive your email, they cannot receive your offer. Therefore, be sure to comply with email marketing best practices: include a physical mailing address, an opt-out link and a subject line that reflects the content in your email. Also, when writing your email, try to stay away from words that are flagged by spam filters.
6. Create a landing page. It is extremely important to guide the campaign recipient through the entire process. By creating a landing page on your website that mirrors your campaign's message / offer, you will encourage the recipient to fill out the form with the ultimate goal of opting-in to your list.
7. Use a lead capture form. Your landing page can either link to a lead capture form or you can embed the form in the landing page itself.
a. Since people are more prone to filling out a short form than a long and drawn out questionnaire, limit the amount of information you are asking them to provide in exchange for their premium. Besides the basic name and email address, think of including one or two other demographic questions. These questions should be well thought out to provide you with information you can leverage for future email campaigns.
b. In addition to the demographic questions, your form should include a check box giving people the option to opt-in to your mailing list and receive information about your company and future promotions. According to the CAN-SPAM Act, if people do not explicitly say that they would like to receive emails from you in the future, it is unlawful to send them commercial marketing emails.
c. If you do not currently have a way to capture leads, an easy way to do this is through your email service provider. Most ESPs will provide you with both the lead capture form and a database to house the acquired leads. They will also manage your opt-outs for you.
8. Track your efforts. If you track your list building efforts, you will be able to pinpoint which initiatives are working the best and focus more of your energy on those. You might decide that others aren't worth your time. Easy ways to track your initiatives are:
a. Web Analytics: sign up for a free Google Analytics account. This will enable you to track how many people are visiting each page on your site and which campaign they are coming from.
b. In your lead capture form, include one question asking people how they heard about you with a drop down menu where customers can select from a list of your current list building initiatives.
c. Landing Pages: create a separate landing page for each marketing initiative so you can track page visits to these dedicated pages through your web analytics account.
d. Dedicated 800 numbers: there are services that will provide you with a range of 800 numbers that redirect to your main phone number. Including a dedicated 800 number on each landing page will enable you to associate each call with a specific campaign.
Remember, even if you are accurately targeting your best customer, your campaign will only be a success if you get them to act on your offer and opt-in to your database. Be sure to spend enough time tailoring your message and the offer to the people who will be receiving your campaign.
- Yael K. Penn, Founder and Principal, Imagine 360 Marketing