List growth is a perennial top priority for email marketers. Today, it's even more important to grow your list with quality sales leads to keep your messages in your readers' priority inboxes and to lessen the risk that an ISP will block your messages because of outdated, nonfunctioning, or bogus email addresses.
Many B2B marketers also worry that they don't have enough email volume to generate high-quality leads consistently for their sales forces, because they have email addresses for less than 50 percent of their customer and prospect files.
In this column, I'll mention some list-building tactics that take advantage of newer technology as well as those that are time-tested and reliable, helping you to build your lists without jeopardizing your list quality or sender reputation.
Step 1: Build a working relationship with your sales team. Although some salespeople still hoard their caches of customer or prospect email addresses, more and more sales organizations have embraced the power of the email channel.
Some have even become the people in your organization who will most likely pressure you to bombard customers or prospects with email messages in an attempt to overturn slumping sales. They now see email as a "quick fix" that will allow them to churn up business.
It's even more important to be transparent with your sales team, as they grow into their newfound love for email. Demonstrate how an email contact strategy that is intelligent, customer lifecycle-based, and data-driven will be much more effective at helping them reach their sales goals than sending their contacts irrelevant messages over and over again.
Sharing email marketing best practices and building more trust between marketing and sales will open the door to the "best" names sales had kept to itself in the past and allow you to build a program that serves the needs and best interests of the sales organization, your goals, and your subscribers' needs.
Step 2: Organic list building is still the best method. A quick sign-up form on all highly trafficked pages on your website is still one of the best sources for quality email permission capture. Try some of these fresh ideas to target signing up 3 percent to 5 percent of new site visitors:
Measure and evaluate the results of sign-up placements with A/B tests whenever possible. Monitor the website revenue per visitor and the revenue per subscriber to gauge the success of each sign-up tactic.
Other methods that are proving to be successful:
Another tactic currently in beta is the opportunity to enable a subscriber form for branded search term campaigns on the Google AdWords platform.
Step 3: "Don't buy lists" is still the rule. Never buy an email list. This rule has not changed. There are no quick fixes in list building. You will end up with a low-quality list that will be expensive and still fall far short of your intended goals. The only thing you're buying when you buy an email list is deliverability trouble, hassle, and heartache.
Put the budget you had planned for buying lists into paid search campaigns instead. That is still the best use of your marketing dollars. Drive qualified prospects to your site, and make it easy to sign up for email online to maximize building your list.
The Last Word
Remember, the silver bullet for email list growth does not exist. Attracting subscribers and building your list are deliberate processes with quality, not quantity, as your goal.
My hope is that using some of these new tactics, along with our tried-and-true methods, will keep generating high-quality leads for you over and over again. A high-performing internal email list is the key to all successful email programs.
A great list, along with a newfound love for email marketing among your salespeople, can help you turn your marketing efforts into revenue for years to come.
Image on home page via Shutterstock.
This column was originally published on April 4, 2012.
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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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