By Sharon A.M. MacLean
Last week’s blog confirmed that email isn’t going away anytime soon and blogs top the list of social selling tactics.
The findings arose from Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Examiner when they surveyed 2800 marketers on how social media grows and promotes business. It’s vital to know when asking yourself, “Where do I start?”
This blog looks at your endgame: the email list.
Yes, social media is sexy today. Everywhere you turn, there are offers to sell you the latest shiny, new tool. Except, it’s easy to get caught up in the million-dollar promises without knowing the foundation of an effective marketing strategy. It’s like the small business owner I met last week who wanted to host a client appreciation night without knowing her clients other than their names, their vague buying habits, and that they had been her customers for over 15 years. She wanted a social media campaign–yet, to what end?
It’s important to know the facts on email: By 2018, there will be 2.8 billion email users, up from 2.5 billion this year. This number compares to:
- LinkedIn: 300 million
- Facebook: 1.23 billion
- Twitter: 271 million
- YouTube: 1 billion
- People send an average of 121 emails each day
- Business sends 108 billion emails annually
Remember Jay Abraham? He’s the guy that best-selling authors Tony Robbins, Stephen Covey, and Brian Tracy quote for his marketing genius. The business visionary is known for his strategies in direct response marketing from the 1970s that apply today to email marketing. I started using his counsel during my fundraising days in the 1980s which meant learning about the power of lifetime clients in three ways:
- increasing the number of donors
- growing the size of the donation
- leveraging the frequency of contribution
The strategy applied to my businesses, too. We started with a well-designed list every time. The challenge we had growing the house list in those days was that we didn’t have great funnels from which to keep filling the pipeline. Our only sources were lists we bought, rented or traded from other like-minded organizations.
So, a Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook following is good because the networking contributes to the email list where your lifelong clients live. The other reason for keeping an email list clean is when/if a network dies out like Myspace. Email will always be there and you won’t lose the list. That’s what’s so powerful about email.
By the way, when is it safe to buy lists? “NEVER buy an email list,” says the Email Experience Council in the U.S. Lists that are available for purchase are full of dead addresses that ISPs use to identify spammers. “Sending to a bought list is a sure-fire way to get blacklisted by ISPs.” However, the Council doesn’t have a problem renting lists from reputable vendor. I say, “Don’t do it,” to be safe here, too.
Yet, according to a new report from Folio sponsored by Lyris, many publishers are still struggling with the basics of email marketing. The survey of 175 publishing professionals revealed the following pain points:
- List growth (55%)
- Dynamic content/personalization (42%)
- List maintenance (41%)
- Mobile optimization (33%)
- Analytics (33%)
- Segmentation (30%)
- Content automation (29%).
Need good ideas to stay focused on your endgame? Here are 7 for you.
1. Start with clean-list-building practices. New anti-spam legislation reminds us to build lists with people who have expressed an interest in hearing about your product or service. When you have consent or the proper permission to send an email to someone, success rates and deliverability go way up. You want the sender to recognize you when you send them an email.
Build email sign-up opportunities into your website. Consider using a pop-up form to collect new subscribers and leverage loyal subscribers by including “send to a friend” or “refer to a colleague” options in outbound messaging.
2. Keep lists current. Clean your list regularly by sending a campaign at least every three months. Believe me, you don’t want to risk getting blacklisted or blocked. I’ve seen it take as long as nine months before the search engines allow a company back in business online. Not worth the risk.
3. Figure out your data fields. This is worth repeating: It’s always best to start with good habits when you’re building a list; otherwise, there’s much pain involved in cleaning it up. The Email Experience Council says those companies that keep their lists clean generate 7 times the number of inquiries and 4 times the number of leads.
Try to clean up multiple titles for the same person. To create a solid foundation for effective email marketing, consider standardizing the title data by using the fields of “Function” and “Role” rather than highly variable fields like “Job Title.”
4. Segment your audience and define your personas. Segmenting is all about understanding your different customer groups. Separate the groups based on job function, buying habits, online preferences, and geography. Identifying your personas gives you an edge in crafting a blog, for example, that speaks comfortably to that specific group.
6. Welcoming email. An Experian study found that welcome emails have 4 times the open rate and 5 times the click rate of traditional newsletters. A welcome email establishes trust and helps you establish a relationship with your customer.
7. Establish your online brand. Your logo, brand images, and positioning statements can be designed for each platform. Social networks differ slightly which means your artwork should be changed and sized to suit each audience.
8. Track performance over time. Gaining a window into your campaign’s open rates and click-through rates will help with tracking growth and success over time. This data helps you to get insights into what content and subject lines are successful and how to improve your approach
Email is your endgame. We’ll look at how you can save time with email automation next time.
Life-long communications strategist Sharon MacLean owned and published a traditional print magazine over 21 years for business people. She now applies her enhanced knowledge in digital marketing to the needs of her clients and believes in the value of combining the best of both worlds.