Debates about the effectiveness of email marketing have been going on for years, with quite a lot of arguments for and against it. But if we look at pure numbers, email marketing gives the highest ROI of all other promotional means, with an average return of $36 for each dollar spent. Of course, the actual figures will vary slightly from industry to industry, but the fact remains — email marketing is very effective, both when the budgets and the rewards are concerned. The trick, though, is to do it right.
Here, your email marketing contact base plays a major part. Without a quality email list, there is no way to promote your product or convey your message to other people. But how do you create one? Before we get there, let’s start with one thing you should never do.
Never buy email lists from third parties
Ethics aside, spamming people who have never interacted with you or your brand is counter-productive. These lists underperform all possible metrics for email marketing. They result in low open rates, low click-through rates, and most emails end up in the trash or spam folder. More importantly, users can mark your email address as spam, and when enough users do that, you may get in serious trouble with your marketing efforts. Besides, you know nothing about people on such lists, not even the country they live in, not to mention age, interests, or occupation. This means — not the slightest possibility of proper targeting.
So, if this approach does more harm than good, which methods actually work? Usually, it comes down to just three steps.
Leverage the power of social media
It’s all about social media today, and there are plenty of ways to obtain your leads’ emails by leveraging social platforms. Here, a reasonable question would be — if you already have a potential customer’s contact on social media, why bother getting their email as well? Mostly because email marketing gives you more freedom of expression than social media. Generally, when people scroll their social feeds, they’re in the mood for fun and relaxation. That means they would not welcome too much aggressive marketing over a social channel. Email is different — and there are plenty of ways to entice people to share their email with you over a social platform.
Of course, a lot will depend on your industry, but quality content is the key. The trick is to offer your audience something valuable enough to subscribe to your website, newsletter, etc. Depending on what it is you promote, it can be a discount for goods and services (sent via email, of course), some free books or guides — anything motivating enough to entice your target buyer to follow your link and subscribe to your website. And that leads us to the next point.
Make sure leads can easily subscribe to your website
If you manage your social media campaign right, people will be redirected to your website to share their emails for further interaction with you. Make sure everything can be done in just a few simple steps — no one likes a lengthy registration these days. Also, keep in mind that a website is an equally powerful promotion tool, and some people may find it via search engines — especially if you invest in SEO and content creation. Make sure the navigation is simple and coherent, everything is well placed, and no annoying pop-ups interfere with the user experience. Also, work on your calls-to-actions — place subscription buttons where people can easily find them. And, of course, do not forget to tell visitors what they gain by subscribing to your newsletter. The discounts, freebies, and other applicable perks are as effective here as they are on social media.
Find new contacts via professional databases
Leveraging the power of your social media and website is a lengthy process that never truly ends. But what do you do if you need a starter database quickly? In such a case, professional email finding tools come to the rescue. There are valid databases that allow looking up other people’s contacts by name or in bulk. With the second option (the one you need right now), you will get a chance to filter people by any criteria that work for your marketing campaign. Yes, most of such tools will charge you a subscription fee or will require payment on a per-search basis. But this approach is nothing like buying a ready-made email list. Why? Well, because here you are not paying for a cat in the bag. Here is how it works in email marketing.
Say, for example, you are a developer who has a new app for other developers, or translators, or graphic designers. A professional contact database will give you a chance to find experts in required industries, with corresponding skills even. By extracting relevant contacts in bulk, you get a unique chance to quickly build some initial marketing database for your new product. And, differently from buying a ready email list, you will not be spamming the unlucky people whose email got picked up (often without their consent) when they were buying perfume or pet food. That is not to say that designers and developers do not have pets, but it clearly is not a very solid selection parameter when marketing new software.
At this point, the above tips may not sound like too many options, but do not forget that nurturing your marketing database is an endless process. There are always new approaches and tools when attracting new clients on social media (hey, even new social media sites spring like mushrooms these days). Website optimization is also not something that can be done once and for all — sites are maintained, updated, etc. Even searching for contacts on professional databases may call for some extra inspiration — what if you try people with this particular work experience? Or company? Or education?
The bottom line, you should treat the above tips as a starting package. Each and every of those methods can (and should!) be expanded and improved as you start building your email marketing database. The trick is to keep expanding and updating your database — this way, your email marketing efforts will not go wrong.