Building a contact list is a key step companies must take before they can launch email marketing campaigns that help them reach and connect with their target audience and convert prospects into customers. To create an effective list, marketers must first convince consumers to join it and then retain their attention by consistently sending engaging content that inspires them to open branded emails when they hit their inbox.
Of course, if the majority of recipients simply delete a company’s marketing email—or worse, mark it as spam—the tactic isn’t only ineffective but also costly in terms of wasted time, resources and money.
To help guide marketers wanting to improve their company’s email list and ensure that it includes subscribers who are likely to be interested in their products and services, 15 members of Forbes Agency Council shared their best tips for building a list that achieves the results they’re seeking.
1. Make It Opt-In Instead Of Opt-Out
Incentivize people to join it with an opt-in instead of an opt-out. This puts the onus on the company to make the content compelling enough for readers to be engaged so that it doesn’t feel like just another forced corporate communication. – Elizabeth Jean Poston, Helios Interactive, A Freeman Company
2. Narrow Down Your Ideal Audience
The list cannot be taken to the bank. Marketers need to be like doctors. In the long run, you are better off if you can solve the pain of a small group. Thus, narrow down your audience and create an “ideal customer profile.” Once you have this, work on the tone of your message. – Qamar Zaman, KISSPR.COM
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3. Capture Addresses With Engagement Tools
There are a couple of ideas that work for several of our clients. First, create content (blogs, white papers, videos) that resonates with your “ideal prospect.” Then, utilize engagement tools to capture email addresses—yes, pop-ups can be annoying, but if you are delivering valuable content it’s a moot point. Finally, look into anonymous retargeting tools that capture email addresses of website visitors. – Michael McFadden, eAccountable
4. Educate Target Audiences Through A Company Blog
Grow your email list through a fantastic company blog that educates your exact target audience. Our email list growth is all from people who have read our content and want to learn more. They choose to subscribe to our emails because something they read on our blog resonated with them, so that means our blog content has to be targeted to the exact right audience. – Kelsey Raymond, Influence & Co.
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5. Promote High-Value Content Via Digital Channels
To get more quality contacts on your email list, make sure your digital channels are promoting high-value content offers. Consider your buyer personas and what is going to be most relevant and helpful to them. Then include a call-to-action that promotes this offer on your website, blogs, social channels, through SMS and more. It’s about providing quality content to get quality contacts. – Elyse Flynn Meyer, Prism Global Marketing Solutions
6. Add A ‘Sign Up’ Call-To-Action Button On Facebook
A “Sign Up” call-to-action button on Facebook offers additional value to an engaged audience. Invite your Facebook audience to sign up by creating a CTA button on the top of your business’ page. Designers can also creatively draw more attention to the button through the business profile’s cover photo, which appears right above the button. – Ahmad Kareh, Twistlab Marketing
7. Offer Existing Customers A Coupon To Sign Up
One effective way to make sure you are getting customers who are actually interested in the products on your email list is to tie an email sign-up to a coupon for those who have bought something on your website. You know they like what you sell; you are enticing them to come again, and if they sign up, you can target them more in the future. – Jason Hall, FiveChannels Marketing
8. Know Your Audience To Customize Emails
Observe who is engaging with your content and customize emails around your audience segment. Imagine it from their perspective: Would you be interested if you received this email? Are you designing the email for customer retention, upselling or for prospects? Consider these strategies to best fit the audience you’re serving. – Katie Schibler Conn, KSA Marketing
9. Don’t Flood Inboxes With Repetitive Marketing
Make sure you are giving something valuable and not just trying to take email addresses to flood their inboxes with repetitive marketing information. If you create great content, the “right” people will want to receive more of it. – Greg Kihlstrom, The Agile World
10. Produce Better Content
Most email lists are small because the people on the lists are only marginally interested in the content being promoted. If you really focus on the goals, opportunities and challenges of your audience, they will tell their friends and colleagues, and the list will grow. It takes time, but it’s the sure path to engagement. – Randy Shattuck, The Shattuck Group
11. Leverage Giveaways And Referral Programs
Giveaways and referral programs can help you get the emails of people who are interested but haven’t yet taken the plunge to buy your product or services. With a giveaway promoted via social posts or ads, you can request email addresses on the landing page and then target prospects after the sweepstakes. With a referral, people are likely to refer others who would enjoy your product. – Michelle Abdow, Market Mentors, LLC
12. Produce In-Depth Guides To Offer On Your Site
In-depth guides will rank high in search and will lead to more traffic. Then you can lead-capture the users through a newsletter subscription. Since they visited your site for specific information tied to your products or services, these are the ideal customers to keep sending newsletter information to regularly. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design
13. Attend Specialized Mixers Or Conferences
“More” isn’t always the answer. Instead, seek out quality leads over mass quantity. Attend specialized mixers or conferences and develop customized email lists for targeted topics based on recipient interests. In the realm of marketing, a single quality lead is worth more than a hundred hastily gathered contacts. Take the time to know your recipients. Cater to them, and you’re sure to see results. – Evan Nison, NisonCo
14. Communicate Directly With Decision Makers
Keeping direct communication with decision makers as the focus of the list will help conversion rates when looking at the sales pipeline. Receiving a response back or a meeting with a decision maker from the company can ensure a more timely and efficient process. – Jordan Edelson, Appetizer Mobile LLC
15. Ensure Incentives Resonate With Target Customers
Quality matters more than quantity in email marketing, and your focus should always be on providing value. With that in mind, consider your marketing goals and target audience when growing your list. If your goal is to grow an email list of potential customers, then you want to appeal to that exact audience. Whatever your opt-in incentive is, make sure it resonates with your target customer. – Brook Shepard, Mason Interactive
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Author: Expert Panel®, Forbes Councils Member