How to build an email list

If you are using Simplelists for marketing, you will understand the importance of having a healthy email list to ensure that you can contact a range of clients and drive success in your business. If you are just starting a business, building a list of contacts or ‘members’ can be a challenge, especially at a time when your customers are receiving other marketing messages in their inbox and becoming more sensitive to spam. Despite these challenges, there are some simple and effective ways to develop a relevant list of members who will want to receive your emails.

Build an email list

Make it easy for people to sign up to your list

There are several ways that you can encourage people to sign up (‘opt-in’) to receiving your emails. You could put a form on your website – make sure it looks ‘clean’ and matches the rest of the site, place it near the top of the page, and add a short piece of text to explain ‘what’s in it for them’ if they sign up. You can read one of earlier posts that explains how to create a subscribe form for your site, using Simplelists. Try not to ask for too much information at this stage – an email address is really all you need, although asking for a first name will also allow you to personalise your emails when you contact them.

Other places you could consider placing a subscribe form are: after blog posts, in your site’s footer, on your ‘About’ page, or in a popup box (although browsers tend to discourage pop-ups these days as people can find them irritating). You can also use social media to encourage people to sign up and/or visit your website. If you are a keen blogger, writing guest blogs accompanied with a sign-up form can also work well.

Sign up at the point of sale or when completing other forms

If your website/product requires people to set up an account or fill in a form on your website, you could also incorporate email list sign-up into this process. Make sure that the reason/incentive for registering is clear though, and relevant to your target audience. You could make it as simple as including a check box that reads ‘Subscribe to our mailing list?’ that they can check when registering.

Word of mouth/events

It can be effective to offer those people who have been on your list for a while a small incentive or discount that may encourage them to tell others about your site/product. Make sure you ask for the friend’s email address and first name (again, to allow personalisation).

Let them know what to expect

It is good practice to make sure that your customers know exactly what to expect when they subscribe to your list. You should let them know what to expect with regards email frequency and content, and reassure them that they can unsubscribe at any time. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the law surrounding email marketing so that you don’t break any of the rules.

Why is an email footer important?

When you send emails for marketing purposes, there are several things you should do to ensure that your email has the most impact possible, and that you comply with the law on email and spam. Although at the end of your email, a well thought-out and well-designed footer can ensure that you do both of these things, as well as provide valuable information to your readers. It can also help to ensure that your email doesn’t get marked as spam. In this post, we look at five ‘best practices’ for email footers.

Email footers

1. Prioritise the legal stuff

It is a legal requirement that there is a clear and visible ‘unsubscribe’ link in your footer so that recipients can remove themselves quickly and easily from your mailing list, should they wish to do so (or update their subscription preferences). You should also include your contact information in the footer: full name and address of your company, and tax identification numbers or other relevant legal information that you might like to show.

2. Invite people to visit your social media links

If you are building a following on social media and use sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to promote your business/work, or share relevant content, the footer is a great place to pop the links to these sites. This makes it very easy for people to go directly to your page(s). You could include text links or, if you have the time and skills, include small social media icons that people can click on.

3. Remind people why they are receiving your email

It is important that your footer tells people why they are receiving the email. This reminds people that they ‘opted-in’ to receiving your emails. However, avoid an impersonal reminder like: “You are receiving this newsletter because you registered with your email address”. Instead, let them know when and where they subscribed, in case they want to double check.

4. Make it look good, and provide links to more information

You might like to include links to your own privacy policy (if you have one). This is particularly recommended as having a privacy policy helps your email to be ‘whitelisted’ (avoid the spam folder). You could also include any information about copyright and/or ownership of the content you are sending. Including links to other news items on your website and/or previous newsletters is also an option, but take care not to overcrowd things. You could include a logo in your footer and, if you are designing an eye-catching email, use a similar overall design in the footer.

5. Don’t weaken the sign-off

It is advisable not to include statements like: “This newsletter was generated automatically – do not reply as your message will not be read”. This can end the communication on a ‘bad’ note, setting a precedent that your email is ‘one-way’ and that your readers cannot (and perhaps should not) reply or interact with you about the content they have just read. This is a wasted opportunity to engage with your clients/list members so try to ensure that people can comment/reply if they wish.

 

Keeping email marketing out of spam

A recent study carried out by ReturnPath estimated that only 79% of emails sent by legitimate email marketers (i.e. emails sent to people who signed up to your list) reach the inbox. Spam filters are becoming more and more sensitive, to ensure that non-legitimate, spam emails don’t get delivered. It is important to follow a simple set of rules to ensure that your list members receive the emails they have signed up for.

Email spam

Build a good email list

The most important thing you can do to ensure that your emails get delivered to the inbox is to ensure that the people that you are emailing want to hear from you. It is not advised to buy or rent email lists that you can’t trust the source of, and it’s important that your list members have opted-in to receive your list. The most common way to opt-in is to subscribe to a particular mailing list, either via a website or a social media link. If people visit your website (regardless of whether they purchase something), they tend to be interested in the information you are providing. You can include an email sign-up box on all pages, allowing users to join your list. A ‘soft opt-in’ is is when a customer has bought something from you and, on this basis, you assume that they might like to receive information about other products/services. They might also have opted in ‘softly’ if they have been given the option to refuse to receive communications from you and they chose not to select this option.

Ask your recipients to add you to their contact list

Getting emails delivered to the inbox is pretty much guaranteed if your list members have added you to their address book/contact list. You can ask them to add you to their contacts in the first welcome email that you send them when they sign up to receive your messages. It’s also a good idea to remind them in the body of other emails that you send.

Take care with your subject line

The subject line of your email will also affect the likelihood of your email making it to the inbox.  We have considered how to write a good subject line in a previous post – the key message here is that your subject line should not be significantly longer than 35 to 50 characters because the longer it is, the more likely it is that it will go to the spam folder.

Make it easy for them to unsubscribe

This might sound like a strange one but making the unsubscribe link prominent can actually help overall deliverability to your list. It is much better if your recipients choose to unsubscribe, rather than marking your email as spam. Email service providers such as Gmail, Hotmail and others keep track of spam complaints and may penalise you for it, affecting how many of your other emails get delivered. By making it easy for your list members to unsubscribe, you minimise the risk of the email service provider blocking all the emails you send.

Finally, it is important to understand that there are laws governing the sending of emails to a list – you can read more about email spam and the law in one of our earlier posts.

Why email is still alive and kicking

Email marketing campaigns are used by the majority of companies to advertise their products, share their news, or invite their subscribers to take part in activities/events. A campaign is a ‘call to action’ with varying objectives and, recently, there have been several questions raised about the effectiveness of email as a method for engaging and motivating your contacts.

In this post, we look at why, despite the rise of social media, email marketing remains an important and effective marketing tool.

Blue keyboard key Contact us, web business background

People tend to prefer email

More than 200 million emails are sent every minute. It is perhaps no surprise that email is still a very heavily used means of communication for consumers and organisations alike. It allows you to open your mail at your leisure, rather than receiving a phone call or text, and direct mailings can often be thrown straight in the bin if not immediately relevant. A 2015 study carried out in the US found that 72% of American adults say that they prefer companies to communicate with them by email, rather than by other means. A high percentage (91%) of respondents also said that they like to receive promotional emails from organisations that they already do business with.

It has advantages over social media

Email marketing allows you to send relevant and insightful content to a group of people who have knowingly and willingly subscribed to your list. Over-enthusiastic marketing using social media can lead to you losing followers, especially if you bombard them with too many posts/adverts. With social media, you are relying on your followers to see your posts, yet if they only access their accounts at certain times of the day, you may get missed in their already-busy feed. It is also hard to target your marketing on social media when all your followers see all your posts. An email can be opened when it suits the recipient. In addition, most users of the internet are also email account holders, whereas only 70% have a social media account.

It is an easy way to reach mobile customers

Email marketing remains an easy way for organisations to reach their list members on mobile devices, without having to invest in new technology and/or software. A 2014 study carried out by shop.org found that just under 50% of retail email messages were opened by customers on their smartphones, and about 20% on tablet devices.

You can target your list to get better results

Simply building a list of email contacts can be a waste of time. Instead, it is worth investing your efforts in segmenting and targeting your list so that you have engaged readers who want to open your email and read what you have written. For example, you do not want to send information about the latest sale in women’s clothing to your male subscribers. If you don’t target your emails well, you are likely to see high ‘unsubscribe’ rates.

 

Uses for Simplelists – Part 2: Email Marketing

In Part 1 we looked at one of the most popular uses for Simplelists, the listserve. In this post we’ll consider another use that is also widely used – email marketing.

Email

WHY USE EMAIL MARKETING?

There are many forms of marketing: SEO (search engine optimistion), social media marketing (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Google+), a good website, advertising, email marketing and more. If you are serious about your business you should be using as many of these as possible. Each has their strengths and weaknesses but it is worth remembering that it isn’t an either/or choice – ideally you’ll use almost all methods.

But we’re focusing on email marketing here – why use email marketing?

It’s direct – when you send an email it goes directly to the person’s inbox. This means that you have the opportunity to gain the full attention of the customer.

It’s targeted - you decide exactly who you will send the emails to and you can tailor those emails specifically for the people who receive them. You can send different emails to different groups of customers.

To convert visitors to customers – when people browse websites online, most don’t buy immediately from the first website they see. Most people visit multiple websites and often research the area further, gathering information from several websites and returning to buy when they are ready – maybe after several days or weeks.

But which shop will the customer return to in order to make the purchase? Often it is simply the shop that they remember. Email marketing can really help here – if people receive a timely email they’ll remember you before the competition.

To encourage repeat business – customers that have bought from you before are more likely to return. You can use email marketing to contact them directly about new offers, products or services and turn a one time customer into a regular buyer.

WHY USE SIMPLELISTS?

Simplelists makes for great email marketing, here’s why:

It’s simple – you don’t need to be a tech expert to use simplelists. Just write an email and send it to your whole list!

It’s quick – let’s face it, you have a million and one things to do when you are running a business. If it takes up a lot of time to do your marketing jobs, they’ll probably end up forgotten. With Simplelists you can send out an email to all your customers in just a couple of minutes… and that means more time for everything else.

Emails get through – there is nothing worse than your marketing emails not getting through to your customers. Simplelists have better deliverability than email clients and free providers.

Your emails are free from advertising – most free group email providers place adverts on your emails so that they can advertise to your customers. This looks cheap and can be detrimental to your business. Emails that you send via Simplelists are free from adverts.

You can send HTML emails – with Simplelists you have the option to design emails using HTML. You aren’t constrained to templates so your emails can look exactly how you like. Of course you don’t have to use HTML – you can send simple text emails too.