The answers to these three questions will determine how well your email marketing works:
- How targeted is your subscriber list?
- How well do your emails promote your products and services?
- How frequently do you send your emails?
There’s a fourth one, which is how good are your products or services, but let’s assume for now that the answer to that is “excellent” at the very least.
Wonderful products and brilliant emails won’t get you anywhere if the right people aren’t reading them, so it all starts with building a targeted list. The money is in the list, as all marketing experts will tell you, but size isn’t everything. A million uninterested subscribers won’t earn you a penny, but a hundred enthusiastic buyers can make you rich.
So, how do you build a targeted subscriber list you can sell to? There are three kinds of customers:
- Recent and current customers
- Future customers
- Past customers
Of these, recent and current customers are the easiest to sell to, however you go about it. In a shop or on a website, if they’re spending money with you there’s a reasonable chance they’ll be prepared to spend a bit more. You just need to make them the right offer, which will usually mean something related to what they’ve just bought or are about to buy.
Previous customers are the next easiest, unless you’ve really disappointed them in the past. And even if you have, saying sorry with an offer or special deal can be a good way to get back into their good books. Maybe start with a gift. Incidentally, an apology is a great excuse for making contact.
Future customers are the ones you will want to attract if you’re building a targeted list, adding them to the existing subscribers of past and present customers. Segment the list if you can so you can target them more precisely later, or create three lists and then share campaigns when appropriate. I’ll explain that part later.
The first thing to put in place then, if you haven’t already, is a database and a system for adding customers to it. We use Aweber, because it’s quite simple and inexpensive, and we’re used to it. Add your past customers manually if you have to. They will probably be worth the time and effort. Then make sure you add current customers as you go along, to a different segment or separate list. This can usually be automated.
Finally, we come to the trickier part, which is adding potential or future customers to your database. Again, a separate list is fine, or a segment of your single list. Email marketing must be permission based, so it’s important that people voluntarily join your subscriber list. You can’t just add people without their permission, unless they’re already customers. Even then, you should ask and give them the option to opt out, while making opting in seem like a good idea.
Yes, lists can be rented (and there are other legitimate ways to access other people’s lists) but your own list will nearly always be the best.
Next time we’ll look in more detail at building your targeted subscriber database.