So you’ve decided that you want to get going on email marketing. You’ve even had some templates designed up and you’re ready to go. Brilliant!
But … then you get handed an export of your database and discover that you were being a bit optimistic about the percentage of customers you thought you had email addresses for. What to do….?!
This is an opportunity to do it right, first time!
Firstly, you need to realise that this is your chance to do it right!
Because you’re starting small, you have the flexibility to develop a clear strategy about who you want to target, and more importantly – figure out who is going to benefit most from what you’ve got say.
Often I come across companies who have an email database dating back many years.
Yes – this means they have the advantage of reach, but also it means what they have to say is going to be less relevant to a greater proportion of the database.
So when building your database from the very beginning, make sure you setup custom fields to collect other information about your subscribers, ensuring you then have the ability to tailor email content to specific groups of subscribers.
Get to know your database more intimately!
So, where to start?
It might seem obvious, but this is just a double check to make sure you’ve exhausted all the obvious options:
- Exports from customer and supplier databases & accounting system
- Transpose data from legacy paperwork such as job briefs / orders
- Business card files
- The inner-most corners of the brains of your sales team (and other parts of the business)
- Ask your sales team (or other staff), to make some “updating-our-records” phone calls for the customers you don’t have emails and mobile phone numbers for
Assuming your business has been around a while, then hopefully the above has netted you a perhaps 500 or so email addresses – and that’s not a bad place to start.
Next, get your internal systems and web-presence up to speed
Once you’ve put all the hard work into compiling your list, make sure you put systems in place to ensure you grow your audience over time.
Things you can do:
- Ensure you have centrally managed customer database, with email (and mobile phone) as mandatory fields. Don’t give your sales team a choice in the matter!
- Incentivise your teams/staff around the business to make sure they collect email addresses at every available opportunity
- If you pay staff on commission, make this part of the sign-off process
- Include a sign-up link on your company-wide email signature
- Ensure you have at least one easily visible sign-up form on your website (often an incentive can help generate activity here)
- If you operate from a physical store, install an iPad kiosk running our email sign-up app
Essentially, you need to encourage a “digital culture” within the business. Help staff to understand the value of an email address (and a quality customer database in general!).
Other strategies for database growth:
Once you’ve sorted the basics, then consider some of the other more strategic ways to grow your database, such as:
- Facebook integration: Ask us about adding a subscribe app to your Facebook profile
- Competition: Run an incentive/prize-based competition (for example on Facebook) that requires all entrants to provide their email address. Promote your competition and reach new people with Facebook advertising and Google Adwords
- Offline marketing integration: Promote your email newsletter in other marketing material such as print ads, billboards, business cards etc. Include a QR code to make it super-easy for people to sign-up
- Tradeshows and events: Attend relevant events and run a prize-draw to encourage email sign-up
- Encourage sharing: Include forwarding and social sharing links on all emails to help with referral growth
- Website content and blogging: Generate high quality content on your website to attract genuinely interested readers via search engines. If they like what you’ve got to say, there’s a good chance they’ll want to hear more over email.
- Affiliate marketing: Work with other companies you have alliances with – ask them to plug you in their website and newsletter – you can offer the same thing for them
- Get active on LinkedIn: Your LinkedIn network offers a prime opportunity – join groups and post regularly with reference to your email newsletters
This is just a small sample of the possibilities.
Remember that the opportunities available to you depend on your comany, your industry and how active you are in the digital space.The more active you get, the more natural growth you’ll see.
Oh, and do not, under any circumstances, buy or rent a list!
I’m surprised by the number of savvy, successful business people I come across that ask me if I am able to help them buy or rent a list!
Think about what happens when you receive an email from a random company you’ve never heard of, trying to peddle the latest drug. Or to be fair – even a local company trying to sell you on something.
Best case – you delete it without opening.
Worst case you report as spam, unsubscribe and then send a “less-than-impressed” email back to the MD of the company in question explaining exactly why you never want to hear from them again!
Successful email marketing begins with permission, so don’t be tempted!