You know that great email marketing starts with a great subscriber list – but how many of you are willing to put in the work to ensure your list is worthy of your campaigns? There are no shortcuts to building the perfect list, and some “strategies” are just plain wrong. To prevent you from going to email marketing jail, we’ve identified the seven worst practices adopted by email marketers today to build out their lists and explained why, if you don’t change your ways, you’re going down.
7 Email Marketing List Building Crimes
- Buying Lists: Email marketing’s success is built on your relationship with your subscribers and the permission they have given you to contact them with relevant and timely offers. When you buy a list, there is no relationship, and this permission does not exist. Buying lists is as good as spam (no matter what your list broker tells you). It will not work — and by the way, the use of purchased lists is against many email marketing service providers’ (including iContact’s) terms and conditions.
- Acquiring Lists: So you’ve recently hired a new sales manager from a competitor and he has arrived at work with a memory stick full of contacts from his old company. Uploading these contacts to your subscriber lists is not only bad form, it may even be criminal – and again, because there is no permission, any campaigns sent to these contacts are essentially spam.
- Other Business Interests: As an entrepreneur, you might have several business interests. It is NOT OK to transfer subscriber data between businesses.
- Sitting on Data: You’ve just invested a considerable amount of money attending a trade show where you collected hundreds of new contacts. Do you upload these contacts promptly (carefully segmenting by product interest) or do they sit in a box under your desk for the next couple of weeks until an intern becomes available to do the donkey work?
- The Waiting Game: New contacts are added promptly and are carefully segmented according to product interest, but you wait until your list reaches critical mass before hitting any of them with your first campaign. The average email address has a life span of approximately 18 months. The sooner you hit them, the better your chances of success. Remember, even if you only have 10 subscribers, these are people interested in your business and potential customers and sources of revenue – so hit them while they are hot.
- Dehumanizing Your Data: Remember, your subscriber list is made up of real people, not just data. Get to know them individually and learn what messages resonate with them. Remember, the more targeted your campaigns, the more fruitful your relationships will be in the long term.
- No Respect: Email marketing laws state that subscribers must be able to unsubscribe from your lists at any time. When you use a reputable email marketing service like iContact, all your campaigns come with an unsubscribe link at the bottom of every email, allowing your subscribers to manage their relationships with you. As email marketers, we must respect our subscribers’ right to remove themselves from the marketing process. If you are using spreadsheets and standard email tools like Microsoft Outlook or Gmail to manage your email marketing campaigns, it’s too easy to lose track of your subscribers’ subscription preferences and continue to send unwanted communications.
Stay out of email marketing jail, and don’t forget to collect recurring revenues as you pass “Go”. Remember, people buy from people they like and trust – so never attempt to start your email marketing relationships on the wrong foot.
This abridged post first appeared on the iContact Email Marketing Blog.