If you want to maintain a steady business, you need to develop and nurture your email list - the best source of current and future business for your company.
There are many types of customers in the world. There are walk-ins to your store who pay with cash. There are online-only customers who come to your business via search. Some customers come bearing gift cards. Others are the friends of friends who have been referred to you. There are catalog and phone buyers who see your product on TV or respond to a direct mail appeal.
Then there are the subscribers to your email list. Of all the customers you have, people who subscribe to your email list are probably your best customer.
Why is that? Email subscribers are simply more committed and loyal than any other visitor to your store or site.
There are a number of important reasons why email subscribers are better than other random web customers.
First, email is the most personal connection method. Email subscribers demonstrate their status as your best customer by the simple act of subscribing to your list or service. By doing so, they have granted you the right to communicate with them directly. Compare that with a customer who came to you via search, or by affiliate link or web product recommendation - what are those customers sharing with you?
A customer who shares a valid email address - what some call personally identifiable information (PII) - with you has "raised their hand" and voted with one of their most important pieces of information - a direct channel to their inbox. By granting you and your service the right to send messages to their inbox, the email subscriber has initiated the conversation with you. It is now a relationship. They expect to hear from you. If you do it well, they'll want to hear from you as often as you have something to share with them that makes sense.
The second reason is behavioral. Email subscribers are known openers and clickers. Known to you, that is. An email subscriber started their relationship with you by taking several actions: filling in a field or two in a form, clicking submit, and minutes later, often confirming that through a "confirmed" opt-in from their email account where they clicked again. The act of subscribing to an email list is intent-personified. Someone who does this is more likely to click on the links in the messages you send them, leading them to purchases or site visits that will make you money.
The third reason is actuarial. Once someone has joined your email list, they join an already active audience of existing subscribers, some of whom look very much like your new subscriber. Over time and over enough subscribers, patterns develop, and if you have a large enough sample size, you can learn what messages work, for whom, when, and why. As a member of your list, a subscriber has self-segmented herself. Her behavior over time may become somewhat predictable; she becomes part of a cohort and she will become someone you can count on to support your business - as long as you play by the rules that you established when your relationship began. She and others like her become your company's most valuable assets.
Random web customers and buyers who come from search may sometimes buy more from you, and you may be surprised when a blog post or random news story drives tons of traffic to your site. But in the end, if you want to maintain a steady business, you want to develop and nurture your email list - the best source of current and future business for you and your company.
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As president of LiveIntent, Dave Hendricks has overall responsibility for revenue, finance, legal, and operations. Prior to joining LiveIntent before its 2009 Series A, Dave was EVP of operations at PulsePoint (then known as Datran Media), where he worked with LiveIntent founder and CEO Matt Keiser and ran Datran's ESP StormPost. Before all that, Dave held senior roles at data management companies InfoUSA and Experian. A member of the founding executive team at ExperianCheetahMail, Dave began his email adventure at Pioneering ESP MessageMedia after running global partnerships for Oracle Corp. Dave was named one of Silicon Alley Insiders Top 100 technologists in 2011 and is active in several IAB Committees including Mobile and Email. Follow him on Twitter @davehendricks.
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