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3 Steps to Grow Your B2B E-mail List More Effectively

  |  July 28, 2010   |  Comments

Work with your sales team, build your list organically, and don't turn to list rental in a panic.

B2B (define) marketers say that their internal e-mail lists are seven times more effective at generating quality sales leads than third-party lists. However, most also say that their e-mail lists aren't large enough to drive the volume of leads their sales organization needs.

What they're missing is a list-growth strategy that attracts a lot of high-quality names without undermining list growth and vitality. If you follow these three tactics, you should begin to see genuine list growth soon and avoid the dangers that lie in wait when you try to grow your list too fast without the proper controls.

Step 1: Work With Your Sales Team

Traditionally, sales teams and e-mail marketers don't seen eye to eye over list growth. In fact, most salespeople are reluctant to share their contacts with their e-mail teams. They fear "marketing" will hurt their sales relationships by bombarding customers or prospects with too many confusing or irrelevant e-mail messages.

Smart B2B e-mail marketers are transparent with their sales teams and work with them to define goals and objectives for the e-mail program.

  • Offer details regarding the messages you'll be sending out, including the frequency, call to action, and message points that you'll use for the campaigns.

  • Explain exactly what data points you define as necessary for complete and accurate lead data and what questions you're using to segment respondents for sales classification and follow-up.

  • Listen to the feedback from salespeople. If they say, "That isn't going to work," discuss their ideas and make changes, as necessary, to the program to support the sales process and ultimately boost conversion.

Once you've established comfort and trust within sales, you'll be amazed at how many e-mail addresses you'll find available for your internal list and lead nurture program. I recently worked with a client that tripled its list size in less than three months by opening new communication channels with its sales organization.

Step 2: Build Your List Organically

Most e-mail marketers have mastered e-mail list-growth basics such as promoting e-mail sign-up on your website, in all of your online and offline marketing collateral; asking for sign-ups at trade shows; and capturing e-mail addresses at the time of purchase.

However, you can have many other creative tactics to build your list. Consider these ideas:

  • Think beyond the trade show booth: Develop a thought-leadership series - webinars, white papers, e-books, even one-page takeaway articles with Q&As or best practices lists. These give your prospects and customers valuable answers and advice. Require the customer or prospect to register to access the content and ask for opt-in e-mail marketing permission at registration.

  • Leverage search and social media marketing: Provide a simple e-mail opt-in in the header and footer of each paid search landing page and social media shared content. Then ask prospects and customers to share e-mail and Web content with their social networks and make it easy for network members to become subscribers.

  • Identify offline opportunities to drive people online: Southwest Airlines has mastered this technique. It promotes e-mail sign-up with a call to action on everything from its schedule boards and jet bridges to in-flight magazines, drink napkins, and even its peanut bags. Consider where your customers might be standing around doing nothing and seize the opportunity to promote e-mail sign-up.

  • Utilize QR (quick response) codes: QR codes are small, barcode-like images that smartphones with digital cameras can scan and send to a mobile website. Create a QR code that directs customers and prospects to a special landing page to view more information and sign up for e-mail. Include the code on business cards, marketing collateral, airport ads, and print ads so prospects don't have to type in a Web address or remember a URL.

  • Implement Facebook Connect: The Facebook Connect API (define) gives you access to the information prospects have already added to their own Facebook pages when you offer them the option to sign on to your website using their Facebook accounts. They will be asked to provide permission for you to access their public information, send them e-mail, and access their Facebook profile, which you can use to send more targeted e-mail messages.

Step 3: Don't Turn to List Rental in a Panic

Avoid renting lists as much as possible. Third-party lists are expensive and typically do not perform well. You can spend $10,000 to $15,000 on a highly targeted, high-quality list, only to fall far short of your intended goals.

If your organic list growth strategies still haven't moved the needle as much as you hoped, invest in carefully targeted paid search campaigns that will drive people back to your site and build your own list.

The Last Word

Remember, generating high-quality leads must be the goal and result of good B2B e-mail list growth. Make sure you track the opt-in source and continually analyze which sources bring the best leads. Continuous tracking will allow you to optimize your list growth efforts and learn which sources to avoid.

When you succeed, you will have a high-performing internal e-mail list that delivers highly qualified prospects that your sales organization can turn into revenue.


Mike Hotz

Mike Hotz is a senior strategic consultant for Responsys, working with clients to design, develop, and execute cross-channel digital marketing strategies that contribute to their cross-channel digital marketing success. As an industry veteran, Mike has worked in e-mail marketing since 1998, designing, building, and executing e-mail and multichannel direct marketing strategies focusing on increasing customer engagement, nurturing leads, supporting sales organizations, and driving revenue for companies such as CDW, OfficeMax, Grant Thornton, and Digitalwork.com.

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