If you are new to email marketing or are in the process of building your first list, you are to be congratulated! Email marketing, despite all protestations to the contrary, is alive and well, and will be for the foreseeable future!

On top of that, it is still the one essential piece that needs to be there for long term success online. And that should come as no surprise. If you think about it, this principle applies to every business, whether online or off. All businesses need a list of regular customers and prospect, and this has not and will not change.

Have you never tried to occasionally drop a direct mail piece using social media data? Good luck with that!WhyEmail Marketing1

However you approach building your list, you need to understand that this is a long term business asset, and as such needs to carefully managed and maintained.

Email-Marketing-Graphic-300x262Here are 8 tips for the care and feeding of your lists!

  1. Build a relationship – The first thing to realize is that these are people you hope to be marketing to for some time. Many people stay on your lists for years, and purchase multiple times from you. That said, you need to treat these people with as much care and respect as you would if they walked into your corner store every morning. They don’t have to become your BFF, but keep in mind that these people are buttering your bread through their direct sales and especially their referrals, so a little respect is in order.
  2. Send them great content – By far the best way to keep people engaged and opening your emails is by giving them a constant supply of terrific content. Now, don’t run screaming into the night upon hearing this: it’s not nearly as fearsome a task as you might think. This can mean not only awesome content you’ve written yourself, but also videos, podcasts, links to others’ great content, infographics you’ve found, and nearly anything else that you find useful, your list may as well. And, if you’re clever, you’ll find a way to add a subtle sales message while you do this!
  3. How often should you mail? – This is what separates the men from the boys. Many will get sheepish and say they don’t want to become a nuisance in the inbox. They will hang on to this to the point where their emails are getting deleted simply because the people they’re mailing don’t recognize them. Look to be mailing a minimum of twice a month. You want to be the person in their inbox that they can’t wait to open, as there’s always something useful in there! But you also don;lt want to become a nuisance, either. We evaluate the frequency of distribution on a client by client basis because every business is different. A restaurant might distribute an email daily; a financial planner might distribute a newsletter monthly.
  4. Ask questions – One great way to not only engage with your list but also to gauge what types of content or offers they may be interested in receiving is to simply ask the question. One of two things will happen. Either no one or just a few will answer, mainly because you haven’t been diligent in caring for them, or you’ll get a flood of responses, which is the kind of data marketers dream about. And if you are using the right platform (Outlook is not an email marketing tool) you can embed pols, surveys, and open ended questions and start a dialog with lots and lots of people. Think they might have something to share that your business can act on? You betcha!
  5. Be generous – Make it a point to be generous, whether this means giving product freebies, or something else, such as tips, time or access. Since you are attempting to make this a buyers list, it’s a good idea to train them as such by not giving them all of your valuable content for free. A nugget of great information once in a while is okay, but buying is a learned behavior, and you can be generous in other ways besides training your list to expect it all for free. And when constructed properly these messages, delivered by email, can be a huge driver of inbound traffic to your website… to your specific landing pages or your blog.
  6. Give them deals and discounts – On the other hand, be sure to give them every opportunity to buy from you, by offering deals, discounts or bonuses for their purchases. This should be the main perk you offer, other than the awesome content you are always sending them! It doesn’t have to be “on sale” either- promote value by bundling products or services. The customer will get more and you’ll drive a greater average transaction.
  7. Be careful what you sow – Because you most certainly will reap it! Don’t send out offers that are pure junk, in the hopes of gaining a quick affiliate commission. This will come back to painfully bite you, as people will unsubscribe in droves, and worse you’ll develop a reputation as and churn and burn marketer, only interested in the amount of money you can wring out of your list. It’s very hard to be perceived as genuine otherwise!
  8. Keep it clean – After every distribution review the analytics. Review the list of bounces and correct any typos. Remove any addresses that are not found or can’t be delivered. Maintaining a sanitized list is crucial for the long haul, and will help keep your emails from ending up on some ISP’s black list (and your emails blocked).

Your email lists are one of your most valuable online assets. Take the utmost care to make sure you are nurturing it! And if you would like a free trial of a terrific email marketing platform (full disclosure: we use and recommend Constant Contact plus we are one of their solution providers) contact us and we will help get you started.