If you have been a frequent visitor to our website before, you may have come across our article on the benefits of inbound marketing. For competitive industries, however, there’s also the outbound marketing component that is vital to retaining customers and keep them up to date on your company’s new offers, press releases, and so forth. Instead of the old model of sending out fliers by post—definitely costly–email lists offer a cheaper and more effective solution that bridges the gap between inbound and outbound marketing.
Consider the following:
- How many times do you check your mail a day?
- On the other hand, how many times do you check your email?
The answer is simple: email lists are immediate and effective ways to stay in touch with your customers and potential clients on a direct basis. Email lists also organize your marketing strategy, cutting down on the superfluous clutter by narrowing your focus, whether you are offering up-to-date newsletters, opt-in forms, or ebook giveaways. Best of all, email lists methods are scalable, helping your grow your business as you thrive.
When Should I Use Email Lists?
There’s two approaches to email lists: an organic approach and the pre-made commercially available.
In the organic approach, typically you use the aggregated email addresses that you have received and stored on a database for your advertising and marketing campaigns. One way of doing this is by creating a website with opt-in forms/pop-ups to build your email lists. WordPress offers a number of easy-to-install plugins that allow your website visitors to the option to subscribe to your company’s PR output. Most websites have an incentive—maybe a free ebook or a discount on future purchases—that lures prospective customers into submitting their email data.
Of course, this is the organic approach to email lists. It can be fairly limited because you are relying on your customer base and referrals, advertising tie-in’s and so forth. Essentially, that’s your customer base.
If you’re not willing to put in the organic customer-by-customer way, instead opting for some cheat codes to business, why not consider ready-made email lists? It may come as a shock, or with a dash of cynicism, that companies specialise in gathering emails and data from customers who voluntarily (or unknowingly) submit their information. These purchased emails lists can supplement your pre-existing organic approach.
The benefits of pre-made lists are that you can grow beyond your target markets and reach customers compiled and cultivated by these companies. If you are finding that your company is lagging in growth, this approach may be for your business.
Costs for Email Lists
There’s a number of email lists available for purchase out there:
- CustomLists.Net offers affordable lists in Australian markets (up to $299), tailored towards business, residential, and education addresses. They also offer comprehensive lists in international markets for reasonable rates.
- The Prospect Shop specialises in comprehensive Australiasian markets, offering a wide-variety of custom demographics. In addition to email lists, they also offer traditional addresses.
- Similar to The Prospect Shop, List Broker offers a number of services, including SMS-based services to expand your business
Tips for Buying Mailing Lists
Here’s a few things to bear in mind before purchasing a mailing list:
- Make sure you buy from a reputable supplier. Find out what other companies recommend for getting the best results
- Ask lots of questions about how the list was compiled.
- Make sure the list is spam compliant. This also extends to your own involvement under the Australian Spam Act (there may be an applicable spam act in other countries). For more information, be sure to read more here.
- Always include an opt-out clause. There’s no sense in creating a negative association towards your company by not taking ”no” for an answer.
- Instead ”spray and pray” marketing tactics, track your open and click-through rates with analytics. If the company doesn’t offer this level of involvement, consider looking elsewhere so that you can monitor your level of involvement.
Tools for Using Email Lists
If you’re looking utilise an email list, there used to be the old method of emailing via CC (”carbon-copy”) and BC (”blind carbon-copy”), building customer and contact lists, and sending out material that may or may not ultimately reach the desired target. Those methods were all well and good for rolodex dinosaurs, but c’mon, this is the modern age—automation and scale is the name of the game to stay competitive.
For both bootstrappers and industry veterans, there are some free services that can offer added control and speed that will get your emails into the hearts and minds of your customers.
For those not in the know, Mailchimp has been around since 2001, offering a simple but dynamic way to create great-looking newsletters that resonate with customers. They offered targeting methods to match demographics, templates, data analytics, auto-responses, and a whole host of integration that goes beyond just sending an email. They even offer in-depth tutorials on how to use their services effectively so that you get maximum response. Best of all, Mailchimp’s services are free to start, with reasonable rates that scale when your contacts reach beyond five-thousand.
Aweber is Mailchimp’s main competitor, offering nearly the same service, but with a more in-depth functionality and business-oriented interface. The only drawback is that Aweber only offers its free service for a 30-day trial. Be sure to experiment with both Mailchimp and Aweber to see what tool fits your business model.
Using Email Lists Effectively
Now that you’ve got your lists ready, what do you do with them? The number one concern is that you want to avoid contacting your customers too much and spamming their inboxes. Try to coincide your email efforts with your marketing campaigns, but make sure the emails count.
Pay special attention to the length of the email. Too much information will make your customers’ eyes glaze over and miss the purpose. Make sure the content matches the subject line and doesn’t stray too far from there. Instead, allow your website to fill those gaps in information; the email should just be a sneak peak. Besides, who doesn’t want more traffic to their website?
Timing is everything. Consider monthly or bi-monthly communication. Social media may be the more apropos medium for crowdsourcing [ADD LINK TO ”A Guide to Crowdfunding”] efforts, whereas an automated email service can interact with customers on their own schedule. Also, don’t forget that email is typically stacked chronologically, meaning that if you sent something at 2am, expect that email to be lower on the list than if you submitted when your demographics are more likely to check their emails (before work, during lunch, and evening times).
If you are using emails to help facilitate sales, its important to remember that customers often don’t respond or interact to the first email. Once you run your first run of emails, it may be worthwhile to send a follow up with a RE: in the subject and a more personalised message. Remember though you don’t want to spam your potential customers, so if they aren’t interested after the first two it may be best to let it be.