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Email Marketing | direct-to-market

Archive for the ‘email Marketing’ Category

Building a List of Email Addresses

I was asked a question this week on the subject of list-building – specifically building a list of email addresses – for marketing purposes. Before I answer though, here’s a précis of what I was asked:

——————————— snip ———————————

I have a question on your take of things re: list building. Do you agree / disagree with listing building via:

   1) Swapping lists with another person, where there is an obvious synergy with the product etc
   2) Finding an ideal list of people and just adding them to your list, be it
      a. paid for
      b. ‘found’ lying around by chance

——————————— snip ———————————

My personal feeling is that the only kind of list I want is one where the recipients are pleased to receive my emails because they are expecting them, looking forward to them, will open them, will read them, and will (hopefully) act upon what I’ve said.

That’s the ideal, although obviously not every email I send gets a 100% response rate (and if it did, I’d be a multi-millionaire by now).

The best way that I know of to achieve this is by actively striving to build a relationship with your list – so that they know, like & trust you – and that all begins by inviting them to join it in the right way. Note that word “inviting” because it’s important, I’m specifically not talking about your suggestion of “finding an ideal list of people and just adding them to your list”.

But why not?

Firstly, if you do this you may indeed end up with a very large list in a very short period of time, but the only person you’ll be fooling is yourself: everybody on it that receives an email from you will consider you a spammer, nothing more. In some parts of the world that’s illegal, and you certainly won’t get even a half-decent response rate. Consider how you treat spam yourself: would you ever buy from a spammer?

Secondly, if many of those people decide to press the spam button on their emails and that filters back to the ISPs (as it assuredly will with many recipients) you may well find your email address, or even entire domain, black-listed by various ISPs …with the result that even business-critical emails that you personally type and send one-to-one may get bounced!

So that’s something not to do!

I’m less clear on what you mean by “swapping lists with another person” but if you are suggesting that you find somebody with a list in a similar niche (vertical market) to you and then give them a copy of your list in return for a copy of theirs, once again it’s something I’d advise against.

Let’s say you approach me with such a proposition in connection with one of my many websites, e.g. my Summit Finance blog. The first thing I’ll tell you is that I have worked hard to build my list there, that it has a lot of people on it, and that they all trust me not to spam them (which is why it grows rather than shrinks). I’ll also point you to the Privacy Policy on that website which very clearly states: “E-mail addresses will not be sold, rented or leased to 3rd parties”; it’s a promise that I have made to all of my subscribers; I have given them my word, and I intend to keep it.

I’d then politely point out to you that I don’t want a copy of your list! Sorry, but it’s true. The people on it may, or may not, eagerly anticipate receiving email from you, I don’t know …but I’m pretty sure they’re not expecting to receive it from me! See my earlier waning about sending spam; I will not reduce myself to becoming a spammer.

So how can you grow your list then? There are lots of ways in truth, and the clue is in that same Privacy Policy on the very next line where it says: “E-mail may be sent to inform you of news of our services or offers by us or our affiliates.” What this means of course is that I can happily email my list telling them about something that you are offering, because I implicitly have their permission to do so (as it was in the privacy policy before they signed up).

But I’m not going to be that generous to you, of course. That list has cost me time, effort and money to build and maintain, so if you want me to email it on your behalf then it’s going to cost you something!

One option is that, assuming you have built your list in a similarly ethical manner to me, and your list is broadly the same size as mine, then you can similarly email them with an offer of mine in return for me emailing your offer to my list. That’s a sensible deal and it works well. Alternatively, if you don’t have a list, or if it’s much smaller than mine, I may simply charge you money to send an email out on your behalf (it’s called a CPM deal and it’s coming from me, not you), or if you’re selling something I may promote it for you without charge but in return for a commission on any sales you make (see the “our affiliates” part in the Privacy Policy).

And that’s just scratching the surface of ethical list building, but it’s also all I have room for here.

In a future blog post I’ll look at what I would put in an email you send out on my behalf to get the maximum return from it, opt-in email lists, list maintenance (including unsubscription requests), opt-in incentives (sometimes referred to as ethical bribes), auto-responders, and a whole lot more that will help you rapidly build and profit from a good-quality list that actually wants to hear from you.

In the meanwhile, if you’d like help with building a list of email addresses then click here.

If you’d like to leave a comment, please use the comment facility below. And if you’d like to share this blog post, feel free to use the relevant social media icons.

Top of Mind Awareness – Brand Awareness

You may not have heard the expression Top of Mind Awareness before but I’m prepared to bet that you’re familiar with the idea of Brand Awareness. In simple terms, it’s about making sure that whenever your prospect thinks of a particular product or service they automatically think of you as their most-likely (and first choice) supplier.

One of the best examples of this for many years was the vacuum cleaner, as manufactured by the Hoover company (http://www.hoover.co.uk). How many times have you said “we need a new hoover” or “I’ll just hoover the carpet” without even thinking about it? Their name, and thus the word, has become so common in the English language that we have even started to use it as a verb!

Hoover is 100 years old this year, so it’s taken them a while, but they have definitely achieved top of mind awareness. Dyson is pretty much there too now, of course, but not so ingrained that we use their name as a verb, as in “I’ll just dyson the carpet”!

As a business owner you should strive to achieve this same top of mind awareness with your own prospects and customers to ensure that, when they need to purchase whatever you are selling, you are the first person they think off. It doesn’t matter if you are an accountant or run a beauty parlour, an estate agent or provide a septic tank emptying service, sell newspapers or the fish & chips that once used to go in them …the principle is the same.

Whenever somebody thinks of whatever it is that you are selling, you must ensure that you are right there – at the top of their mind – as the most obvious, and first realised, solution to their need.

You do this by keeping your name – your brand to be precise – in front of them, at the top of their mind, hence the term top of mind awareness. And it really is as simple as ensuring that your brand is the first one they think of: i.e. brand awareness. If you run a large company then obviously the company name is the brand, but if you are a sole trader or small partnership it may well be that your own name is the brand of which people should be aware: “Bodgit & Scarper Builders” for example.

If you have a huge advertising budget then it’s easy enough to keep plastering your name and logo in front of people, but we’re in a recession at present so for most people throwing money at advertising isn’t as easy as it once was. The answer then is to use effective and well-targeted advertising (as should really have been the case all along anyway).

For most small businesses the most cost-effective advertising by far is to keep in touch with your existing customers: build a list of them and then stay in touch. Your current customers are almost without doubt your business’s most valuable asset (I’ll cover the psychology behind this in another post) so don’t neglect them; keep yourself, and your brand, at the top of their mind. After all, you don’t want them saying “I know that the last time I bought XXX from YYY I was really happy with the product and the service, I just can’t remember who I bought it from!” …and then going to your competitor, do you?

So stay in touch with your customers.

The same principle applies to prospects too (you know, those browsers that take up your time and then leave without spending any money). They expressed an interest in you, your brand, your company and what you sell. You have spent time and money educating them; you have begun to build a relationship. So don’t now sit back and let them go and buy from one of your competitors.

Stay in touch with your prospects.

Achieve Top of Mind Awareness – Brand Awareness – with all your prospects and customers by making, and maintaining, regular contact. And if you use direct-response marketing to do this, your messages are laser-targeted and thus very effective (a high ROI).

Does this need to cost you a fortune? Absolutely not! Certainly postage is now becoming expensive and by the time you have printed a letter, folded it, stuck it in an envelope and (the most expensive part) stuck a stamp on it you can easily find yourself approaching a cost of £1.00 per letter. If you need to contact 1,000+ people each month, that can become very expensive, very fast.

But how much does it cost to send an email?

The answer is nothing if you do it yourself, but you do need to ensure that you don’t spam people (send them unsolicited email they didn’t ask for and don’t want), handle requests from those that wish to unsubscribe from your list, manage those that want to stay subscribed but change their email address etc. So while it’s cheap, it can take up a lot of your valuable time, and time is money!

The good news is that we have systems in-house that can do all this for you, and as we’ll even write the sales-letter (sorry, monthly newsletter :)) for you if you wish, achieving and maintaining that vital top of mind awareness with your prospects and customers can take as little as 15 minutes of your time each month, for the phone call to tell us what you want in the email.

Our prices are very reasonable too, and I can practically guarantee that you won’t find a cheaper way to stay in touch with 1,000 (or whatever) people each month, or achieve a higher ROI on your advertising spend. To learn more about how we can help you cut your advertising costs and simultaneously increase your sales, either phone us on 0333 444 0340 (and leave a message if you get voicemail as we are often busy with clients but we will always call you back) or send us an email through our Contact Us page.

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