A subscribers list is a crucial record that an individual or business compiles with the contact details of every website visitor, existing customer, or prospective customer they have. A good email marketing list can be used to send out targeted, personalized messages – including promotional outreach emails, as well as newsletters or updates – directly to the inboxes of the subscribers who are most likely to appreciate them.
The importance of email marketing in eCommerce can hardly be overestimated. The main reason for this is that, unlike adverts, outreach emails can be completely personalized. Subscribers have to sign up specifically to receive promotional emails, so it’s not very likely someone would sign up for email campaigns that did not interest them.
As a marketer, you can even set up your email list so that emails are sent automatically, based on the purchasing behavior of your subscribers. This makes it even more likely that the recipients of the emails will really value the information you are emailing them, and that they will be more likely to stay loyal to your brand.
In spite of the fact that digital advertising is rapidly becoming more and more expensive, it is also becoming less effective as the market becomes saturated. In contrast, email marketing and outreach email marketing remain both affordable and effective. When you send outreach emails, you are reaching out to those subscribers you think are likely to respond positively and sign up to receive further promotional emails.
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Reap the Rewards of Creating an Outstanding Email Marketing List
When you build up a quality list of subscribers for your email marketing campaigns, you create a way to draw in new customers and nurture existing clients. Most importantly, your subscriber list helps you convert potential customers into sales. Here are some of the rewards of having a strong email list:
Once you’ve built up a strong email list of your very own, you own that list, nobody can take it away from you, and you don’t have to rely on anybody else before you can use it. That’s a very good thing, because when you rely on others, there’s always a possibility they could let you down. Like the saying goes, if you want it done right, it’s always better to do it yourself.
Highly Attended Channels
Virtually everybody checks their email at least once a day – and in fact, the vast majority check it a lot more often than that. Some email users reported they check their email up to 20 times per day! It is so easy to check your email on multiple devices, even being out of the office doesn’t affect people’s email-checking behavior. That’s why email marketing is hard to beat.
The more subscribers there are on your subscriber list, the more people there are who will see your message, logo, or brand name. The more of those people there are, the more likely you are to get more brand recognition. The more recognition your brand gets, the more quickly and easily your brand will pop into customers’ minds when they are ready to start making some purchases. That’s what every email marketer wants!
The best format for reaching the target audience of your mailing list largely depends just who that target audience is. But as a rule of thumb, you can reach younger subscribers better through mobile-optimized content and social media, while older subscribers will probably respond better to good old-fashioned email marketing.
One good thing about email marketing is that you don’t have to try and cram as much relevant content as possible into as little space as possible, like you’d have to for SMS or push messages. Whereas short-form content is always going to require a compromise between the best message and the shortest length, with email, you can say what you want, how you want, to everybody on your mailing list.
Maximum Return On Investment
So long you manage to build up a good subscriber list, email marketing usually offers the highest ROI you can get among all forms of digital marketing. Latest statistic estimate the ROI for email marketing at around a $36 return on each dollar.
Before You Start
Before email marketing can be beneficial, you need two important things: a good amount of traffic to your website, and a well-designed and executed sign-up forms. Once those two things are in place, you can set about attracting people to view your website, and use your sign-up forms.
When setting up your email marketing platform, your number one priority is to ensure that you have an excellent email service provider. While free email providers such as Gmail are widely used for personal purposes, most businesses make use of a professional email host. These email services can be highly customized and may utilize their own dedicated servers.
When deciding on your email host, check whether the different options:
- allow you to create or customize different signup forms or landing pages;
- allow you to track the success of your email marketing strategy quickly and easily;
- allow you to subdivide the subscribers on your mailing list according to the criteria you specify;
- offer email automation for sending emails to certain specified segments of the full mailing list; and
- integrate well with other programs or marketing tools you’re already using.
Email Marketing Apps
Once your actual email account is set up, you’re ready to choose one of the many convenient email marketing apps that are available to download for free or buy from a reputable provider. But with so much choice, you need some sort of plan about how you will choose the right one for your business needs.
Some of the questions you’ll want to think about include:
- Is the email marketing app easy to use? The actual product specifications should give you a good sense of this, but reading customer reviews will also be very valuable.
- Does the email marketing app offer a good range of features, such as automatic actions that can be triggered by behaviors like order confirmation or abandonment of cart?
- Does the price seem reasonable for what’s included? Are there any hidden costs, or can you see the price at a glance? (Hint: look for very small print that is easy to overlook!)
- If you get stuck along the way, is customer support readily available? This is another thing you’ll probably be able to find out from customer reviews. Not all free options offer customer support – and this can sometimes turn your process into a nightmare!
- Does the app have the necessary capacity to deliver high volumes of email to all the subscribers on your mailing list?
- Does the app enable you to analyze your data in order to determine exactly how effective your different email marketing campaigns have been?
- Does the app offer templates, or do you have to come up with your own content from scratch?
- Does the app offer forms that allow customers to opt-in or sign up quickly and easily?
Ready-Made Email Lists
These days, virtually everything that exists anywhere can be found on the internet – including both completely free and paid mailing list options. The vendors may make big promises about the quality of such ready-made lists of email contacts, but the reality is, nobody really gives away something for nothing. There’s always going to be some kind of catch.
In the case of any ready-made subscriber list of email contacts, there are likely to be several catches such as:
- Lack of Originality – If you’re able to find a certain mailing list to buy on the internet, there are virtually guaranteed to be plenty of other subscribers also finding and buying that exact same list. That means that the email addresses on any purchased lists are likely to receive a bunch of unsolicited outreach emails from unknown senders. That is definitely not what you want when you’re trying to build up long-term relationships with potential customers!
- Spam Traps – If the email list you buy turns out to be a spam trap, that means that when you send any emails to the contacts listed, your sender’s email address and IP address may be identified as spam, and blacklisted. In that case, all your careful marketing efforts, using that email list, will turn out to be completely useless.
- Poor Quality Contacts – Even if the mailing list turns out not to be a spam trap, there’s no way a generic list like that could contain excellent quality subscribers that are highly relevant to your business. Then if those contacts receive marketing emails from you, they will likely be delivered to the person’s spam folder, because they are addressed to multiple recipients or because they have suspicious subject lines. In other words, not only do you not get new subscribers from that list: you also get a high number of contacts marking you as spam. That’s the last thing you need when you’re trying to gain more subscribers.
- Complaints – A high number of contacts marking you as spam is NOT what you want. This reduces your sender reputation, which can affect all emails you send in future, and if enough people complain, it can even lead to your ESP terminating your account.
- Waste of your money – Although ready-made email lists are completely useless, they are not exactly inexpensive. Buying these email lists will therefore not only get you into people’s spam lists, but also make a dent in your profits.
By law, you are not allowed to send people marketing or outreach emails without their explicit prior consent. That also means you have to make it virtually impossible for people to sign up for mailing lists by accident. There has to be an unmistakable notification telling your email subscriber that when they click, subscribe, or opt-in, they are giving you permission to send them marketing emails in the future (and there has to be an unsubscribe link they can click if they want to stop receiving list emails).
Using a ready-made mailing list also makes you liable for data protection regulations violations. When you attempt to grow your email database by mailing contacts you obtain from questionable sources, you risk heavy fines. If your potential subscribers have not been through a legitimate signup process, or actually clicked a box somewhere to say that they want to receive marketing emails, email marketers may not email them.
The (European) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulates the way in which organizations may and may not use, process, and store people’s info, and if you break these laws, you can be heavily fined. Inside the USA, the CAN-SPAM Act similarly regulates “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service.”
In other words, buying an email list is a complete waste of time and money, and could even leave you vulnerable to criminal charges. In other words, collect email addresses for yourself, and DO NOT BUY ANY SUBSCRIBER LIST FOR ANY REASON!
Legitimate Strategies for Building Your Email List
Now that you have successfully resisted the temptation to buy a ready-made email list, what’s your next step? Well, now you have to build up your own email list, the old-fashioned way. While this process can take some time, it’s well worth the investment in the long run. Here are some reliable strategies for growing your subscribers via email marketing:
Provide Quality Content
Sadly, there isn’t really any magic trick you can do to build a solid email list overnight: every successful email marketing campaign is always based on the same thing, and that’s quality content. You need to send your subscribers content they’ll actually be happy about receiving. DO NOT try and trick them into clicking the opt-in button without really knowing that they’re doing so. They must know exactly what you’re offering, and what they’re agreeing to, when they sign up for your list.
But the upside is that while you’re in the process of getting informed consent from your subscribers, you also have a good opportunity to present some of your content. Entice your subscribers by showing off some of your best content (especially, your best visual content) in the outreach emails you send. Even if this content is not strictly focused on sales, adding value to the consumer’s experience at an early stage is a good strategy for securing future customer loyalty.
Harness the power of visual content
Good use of images is essential to create effective content. We obtain most of our information about the world through our sense of sight. But, there are so many visual images surrounding us at every moment that we can only pay attention to a fraction of the total number. That’s why you have to ensure that viewers of your content are paying a lot of attention to the relevant images, so that the images can have the maximum impact.
The best way to make images stand out is to use contrast. If the background of your page consists of neutral colors, brightly-colored images will stand out more – but a single plain, neutral-colored image will also stand out if all the other images are colorful. Contrast can also be created when most images are stationary while one is moving (or vice versa), when one image is moving in a different direction or at a different speed from all the others.
The only thing is, if your visual content is very detailed, and takes a long time to load, your subscribers are going to click away before they get to see your awesome images. So make a compromise between high image quality and high download speed (this is particularly important for the text mail subscriber portion of your list).
Collaborate with strategic partners
When you are trying to create quality informational content to reward visitors to your site, it helps to put your head together with like-minded people. Even working with a single partner can potentially give you twice as many ideas as working alone – and sometimes, the actual process of collaborating can produce ideas that neither partner would have come up with on their own.
Co-created content also has the advantage of reaching the combined subscriber list of both the collaborative partners. But choosing your collaborative partner carefully is essential. You have to ensure that you still provide your subscribers with good quality content that is maximally relevant to their needs.
Sending out mass outreach emails to your subscribers is always a possibility, but organizations often have very restrictive filters that will mark such messages as spam. This includes if the email subject line has even a slightly promotional tone. That’s why you should use direct marketing as often as possible, so that you send targeted outreach emails to small groups of recipients at a time.
Remember, developing high-quality content to reward your subscribers should be the primary focus of your email marketing strategy, and there aren’t really any shortcuts around that. However, there are some handy tips you can use to encourage people to make use of your email signup form, and to sustain their loyalty going forward:
Go for give-aways
Everybody loves getting something for nothing, so giving out freebies – or just discounts – is one of the best ways of generating email signups for your mailing list. You are not limited to handing out physical items: digital assets work really well too. If you know your audience, you could give them stuff like worksheets, templates, eBooks or videos that would have a lot of value to them.
Attract Audiences to Online Events
When people go to the trouble of completing the registration process for an online talk or presentation, that demonstrates a certain level of commitment to you or your product. Those people could easily become subscribers. Moreover, while they are already going through the online registration process, you can easily give subscribers options to sign up for other newsletters or mailing lists they might be interested in, and that won’t come across as too aggressive or spammy.
You can easily purchase different types of professional newsletter writing services if you’re not confident about creating your own. Then do a web search for newsletter signup examples to double-check you’re on the right track.
Make the Most of Social Media
If you promote your email list on social media, you will probably reach different audiences from the ones you get on your email or other channels. The same principles apply as for other channels: focus on delivering high-value content, rather than spam, to people who will appreciate it. Use visual images wisely, collaborate with strategic partners, offer free stuff, and promote online events you’re hosting.
Facebook ads are often the best way of increasing traffic to your site. They allow you to target your perfect audience at the time and on the platform most suitable for them. Many e-commerce businesses use Facebook ads for building lists of subscribers, as they are cost-effective and can easily scale as your needs and business grow.
Now that your list is up and running
Even if you start out with a great email subscribers list, you can’t just sit back and relax. It takes ongoing effort to keep your list healthy. Email addresses go out of date surprisingly quickly, and the last thing you want is to put all that effort into producing outreach emails which do not end up reaching your subscribers. Some steps you should regularly take to keep your subscriber list in good shape include:
- Confirmation emails – If you send confirmation emails to new subscribers requesting that they verify their email addresses, you will be able to confirm that each email address belongs to an actual person (and was not just automatically generated in a spammy way).
- Tagging – One of the best things about email lists is that they can be personalized. By assigning different tags to different contacts (according to their behaviors, preferences, and interests), you will be able to send out even more relevant and targeted emails to subsections of your list.
- Regular list cleaning – You might inadvertently have added duplicate addresses to your list, however careful you tried to be. Moreover, many people have several email addresses, and often change them quite frequently. Therefore, some addresses may stop working after a while, and you’ll need to remove them as soon as you realize that they no longer function.
We’ve shared a few tips and trick to help you understand how to go about setting up, growing, and maintaining your subscriber list in order to reap the maximum rewards of your email campaigns. However, out of all the advice, the most important one is don’t try any dodgy shortcuts. Do not buy ready-made mailing lists, and don’t try to dodge out of having to provide quality content on your sites. Do the work, and you will reap the rewards!