Email marketingDespite the current hype around social media, email marketing is still one of the most cost effective and responsive marketing approaches for every small business, no matter what sector you are in.

All the research indicates that email still generates one of the highest returns on marketing investment and the Econsultancy industry census has found that 61% of companies found that email generated a ROI of more than 300%, and 30% said it was more than 500%. Wow – some amazing results!

 So don’t get sucked into a purely social media focus and not using email marketing as an effective part of your marketing activity.

I’m very passionate about email marketing as I have seen it deliver fantastic results for both big business (when I was at Avis car rental) and now for many of my clients in the campaigns I develop and manage for them.

The starting point is your mailing list and having someone to talk to. No good sending an email to yourself is it!

So here’s my top 3 tips on how to build an effective email list…

1. Do not buy in lists

The quality of bought in lists is usually dubious as opt-ins are not always obtained, you don’t always know the accurate source of the data (despite what the broker tells you), and as most email address data deteriorates by approximately 25% per annum – at least a quarter to half can be just total rubbish. You will be paying to email people who are neither receptive or possibly at worst, not even there!

It takes longer and is harder work but ‘home grown’ is always best. You can ensure you have the permission (the opt-in required to comply with UK Data Protection and privacy laws) to email the recipient to ensure a receptive response and you can keep your data more up-to-date.

2. No business card harvesting

Yes we’ve all been the victim of this (unless you are very lucky!). It is one of my personal pet hates (I will get off my soap box I promise!!).

You attend a networking meeting and meet some ‘nice’ business people and you return to your office unaware that you are now going to be the ‘victim’ of business card harvesting! Yes, they have taken your email and added you to their various email lists and database – you will now receive all manner of unwanted SPAM into your inbox.

This is by far, the greatest customer or client repellent I know and have experienced personally. What do you do? Like me, you probably immediately unsubscribe and mark these senders as spam. At best, they have lost you as a potential network contact or at worst, a potential customer by not respecting your privacy and some basic email marketing best practice rules.

3. Build data capture into your day-to-day business

The only way to start building your own quality email marketing database is to incorporate data capture into your everyday marketing ‘machine’.

Review all of your touch points with customers and prospective customers and ensure you give them a compelling reason to sign up to your database, whether that is through asking them to register for a free trial or sample; to receive a whitepaper or report, webinar or podcast; or a free monthly newsletter packed full of useful tips (just like this one I hope!). Whatever is right for the audience you need to attract and build a relationship with.

Think about using all available customer touch points, here are a few ideas to get your started:

  • Your website and blog
  • Social media profiles – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn
  • Your email signature
  • Back of your business cards
  • Promotional literature
  • Partner / business introducer email
  • Guest blogging
  • Article submissions
  • Speaking at events or seminars/workshops you run
  • Networking (but ask first and target the right people who have shown genuine interest in your company/product (ignore point 2 above at your peril!)

What ways have you used to grow your email marketing list? Please share your creative and effective ideas here!