E-mails can be one of the most effective ways of reaching customers and giving them a reason to buy.
They are also an excellent channel to reach existing customers and to upsell additional products and services.
For e-mail blasts to yield optimal results, they need to be sent to a well-managed list of quality, opted-in subscribers. Thus the mailing list is one of a company's most valuable e-mail marketing tools.
To grow their lists effectively, companies can follow these six simple steps offered by Barbara Ulmi, marketing manager at GraphicMail (http://www.graphicmail.com):
1. Ask subscribers for their help: Politely reminding subscribers that they can forward an e-mail to a friend or recommend the company's newsletter to their contacts initiates organic list growth. (Most e-mail-marketing-program templates offer a "forward to a friend" link in the footer.)
Of course, for subscribers to agree to this, a company has to make sure to supply them with a newsletter that is consistent, relevant and engaging; it has to be something they want to share with their contacts. Make sure that the call to action is clear and that subscribers know exactly how to go about forwarding and sharing the newsletter – or that they have an incentive to do so. Offer them something in return, for example: Forward this e-mail to a friend and stand the chance to win two tickets to the World Series!
2. Make subscription forms visible: Companies should Advertise the fact that they have a newsletter and make it clear how people can sign up. The sign-up form needs to be strategically placed on the website, noticeable to all visitors.
And why limit it to only one page of your site? Place subscription forms on any or all of the pages – be it Home, Contact, About Us or a blog. Keep it visually simple, but eye-catching. If the subscription form looks like effort (that is, it looks like will take ten minutes to fill in) it will be by-passed. Rather keep it short and simple, ensuring that it captures only relevant information.
3. Try some Old-fashioned footwork – networking::If a customer purchases something from a company, it means two things: They’re interested in the product or service and they’ve made the effort to look the company up/visit the store.
Chances are, they’ll be interested in receiving future news on products and service offerings. The same goes for guests at events. Make sure to take advantage of all these contact points by asking people if they’d be interested in signing up for a newsletter; it may be a traditional way of acquiring email addresses, but there’s still something to be said for personal networking.
4. Partner-up for recommendations: Companies can’t beg, borrow, buy or steal mailing lists, but they can ask a partner to recommend their service, product or newsletter to their own mailing list. Approach an agency, supplier, sponsor or even someone whose products the company stocks or services recommended in the past and ask them to recommend offerings to their e-mail contacts.
5. Utilize PPC/Adwords campaigns: Many companies are probably already promoting their site through PPC and Adwords campaigns, so why not utilize it further to grow a subscriber list? Visitors who reach the site through the pay-per-click advertising have already indicated an interest in the business by clicking on the ad.
Entice them further by ensuring that the page the ad directs them to contains a subscription form for the newsletter. It gives them the opportunity to first scout out the business and then opt-in for further updates, hopefully growing their initial interest.
6. Expand the company's reach by incorporating social networks: Many companies have already started building some kind of social online presence, whether it’s through a blog, Facebook, Twitter or any other social network. If a company hasn't, it can still be certain that most of its subscribers have one or several social-networking profiles.
The company can already have access to these networks; use them to broaden an e-mail audience. Enabling a social-share tool for campaigns allows the company to share newsletters across social accounts, and adding social widgets to an e-mail footers enables subscribers to share e-mails with their friends through their own Facebook, Twitter and other social pages.
Once a company has a quality, opt-in mailing list, remember to keep it clean. Regularly update the list, ensuring that the company blocks the e-mail addresses of those readers who have unsubscribed. By ensuring that the list remains relevant, companies will increase their chances of e-mail marketing success.