There’s no point in having a beautiful design and interesting content for email newsletters if you’ve got no-one to send to. This post is about the steps you can take to build your email list. There are lots of articles around about this, but these tips are ones that have worked in my experience for the Irish market.
Build or Buy?
My original thought on this is below. This applies to SME’s and individuals. However, I have revised this for brands or well known personalities. In those cases you could buy a list – ensuring it is a quality list of opted in permission-based addresses. It’s still not going to be as effective as an email list you’ve built yourself.
Don’t ever buy an email list. It’s a total waste of money – the money you spend on the list, the money you spend on getting the email out, and the disappointment when you don’t get the results you want.
If you received an email from an unknown source, would you act on it? Or would you send it to the same steaming pile where mails from hawkers of Viagra, Cialis, Rolex, reside?
9 Tips For Online List Building In Ireland*
- Add an opt-in form to your website. Position it somewhere visually prominent. And even better, put it on every page. That’s what we do.
- Don’t be too greedy in what you ask for! Just because your marketing department would like to know the county, car registration number, and birth date of would-be subscribers doesn’t mean you should ask for them. The less information you ask for, the more likely people will subscribe. So start off by asking for name and email address only. If you ask for name, use it – and personalise your emails. If you’re not into personalisation, ask for email only. You can always ask for more later – when you’ve earned it.
- If you’re a start-up, make sure you have a teaser opt-in. Here’s a good example of one – see how they ask for what they’re about, they’re coming, and only ask for an email address.
- Next, include links to the opt-in form on all your communication. Add a link to email signatures, so every email leaving your company is seeking permission to market. Look at every touchpoint that customers have with you – add opt-in’s to invoices, delivery dockets, back of business cards. Follow up sales to customers with an email inviting them to join the email newsletter list.
- Build a process around asking permission of everyone you meet. After attending business networking events, follow up with a short email saying “nice to meet you and I’ve added your name to our email newsletter list’. Tell them they can unsubscribe at any time. And you know what? Irish people hate to think they’re missing out on anything so they never really do!
- Or go the lazy way – run separate lists. Include one for all new people you have recently met. Send an email to new people saying “here’s a sample of our email newsletter. I think you might find it of interest. If you don’t want to receive it, you can unsubscribe here.” This is playing on the fact that the law around email and spam in Ireland is a bit grey. You can get away with an opt-out email of this nature, provided you always respect people’s wishes to unsubscribe.
- Data mining. If you’ve got the time or resources, it can be worthwhile to run extracts from your database to see what customers/clients you’ve got email addresses for. New contacts can often be added to the database by your sales team who do not have an objective to increase the email marketing list. It can be useful to run this exercise once a year. If you haven’t done so already, add a field for opt-in to email.
- Bounces. When we’re looking at reporting for email newsletters, it can be easy to focus on the open and click rates. But you should also act on bounces and non responders. Check bounces for typos against your main database. Telephone the contacts if you have the time to find out if the contact is still there. Often this can yield results and provide an opportunity for a re-introduction, or simply to remind customers that you’re still around.
- Non responders are those contacts on your list that haven’t opened your email. This can be for any number of reasons – maybe they’re not receiving, it’s ending up in their spam. Sometimes they are getting it, but just deleting, or giving it a quick scan in the preview pane before deleting. I find that generous but ballsy strategies can work in awakening non responders from their reverie. Send a special offer with a closing date. Send a reminder, tell them you’re going to remove them from your list. And when the time comes, remove them. If they’ve been non responding for some time, they’re distorting your results and you’re better off without them.
Think of yourself – maybe you signed up for an email newsletter when you were planning that trip around the world or a wedding. Now you’re back or married, the last thing you want is constant reminders of where you’re not going… so lose ‘em.* Would love to have 10, but couldn’t think of 10 that work!
In my experience, online list building in Ireland is not enough.
It takes time to build up lists of substantial size, so to really give your list building a push, you’ve also got to bribe them! That’s where we bring in ….
Offline List Building
- I find postcards work really well, for all business types. Design a postcard with a great offer or competition on the front. On the back, include your address with a FREEPOST address and a space for them to fill in their email address and name. Then blitz ’em. Give them to all your sales team to distribute to everyone they meet. Front of house people should have them. They should go out with every mailing (invoice, brochure, delivery docket).
This doesn’t have to be expensive. With print costs coming down every day, and amazing offers like these from Moo Cards from €13.79 and Vistaprint, the only real cost is in the competition. Spa weekends are always attractive. Weekends to European cities – you just don’t have to say in the competition details that flights are with Ryanair!
When you get the postcards back and have updated your mailing list, be sure to keep them. Data handling requirements are that you must keep them for 3 years.
Building a list is an ongoing project.
It’s not something you can ‘get done’ in a week. It’s a state of mind.
I’ve seen many examples of businesses that really get it and work to ensure that list building is a central party of their activity.
And they get the results.
Think of it – if you speak to 1 person per day, that’s about 360 email contacts a year. Times that by the number of people on your team and the multiplier effect kicks in.
If you would like to have a chat about how you can bring in email marketing list building to your operation, just get in touch. You may be a well-established business that has been issuing an email newsletter for several years, or you may be starting out and wanting to put in good practices from the word ‘go’. All of these activities have worked time and time again in Ireland. There are more things you can do, but they’re quite specific. Just contact us and find out!