There is little doubt that maintaining a strong email database can be a veritable goldmine for companies today. When you have a reliable list of people you can contact on a regular basis, you can nurture relationships, crowdsource ideas, measure responses to different campaigns, and of course, feel confident that your content is reaching the ideal audience on a regular basis. The big question, however, is how to build an email database that can provide all of those benefits. A lot of companies try to take the shortcut and simply add people to their enewsletter lists without permission. Not only is this a great way to frustrate people with whom you are trying to connect, but it could also impact your ability to implement effective email campaigns in the future.
What are some better ways to build up your email database? Here are five ideas.
1. Add an opt-in option to your sample request and/or RFP forms
If you use sample request forms or RFQ/RFP forms, add a line inviting people to opt-in to your e-communications. Not only does this encourage people to sign up for your emailed communications but it also can help you track how many people are filling out your forms. This information should be shared both with your marketing team and your sales team so that there is a good idea of how many leads your company is receiving.
2. Include a prominent sign-up form on your website
Especially if you use a program like Constant Contact for your email marketing, adding a user-friendly email subscription form to your website or blog site is extremely easy. If the form is on your blog site, make sure you mention it in your posts regularly. People need guidance as to what you want their actions to be when they visit your site to read your content!
3. Connect individually and ask if people would like to receive email communications from your company
A lot of individuals and companies tend to add email addresses into their database simply based on the exchange of business cards or the scan of a trade show badge. This has been established as a poor way to go about building your email database. What you can do, however, is connect individually with people and if appropriate, ask them if they would like to receive your company’s email communications. This kind of conversation can occur via an individual email, on LinkedIn, or in a face-to-face meeting. In these cases, it may be a good idea to send a group of people a very simple text only e-newsletter first to make sure they do not opt out. A failure to opt out is, in essence, a way to opt in.
4. Promote your e-newsletter via social media channels
If your company is active on social media platforms, it’s a good idea on occasion to promote your e-newsletter. Including the kind of content recipients can expect is a good idea and a way to entice people to sign up. This needs to be done with some caution. As with promoting your products and services, promoting your e-newsletter too much can be a turn-off for your social media communities. An additional benefit of promoting your e-newsletter on social media platforms is that the number of sign-ups you receive can be a way to measure how engaged your audience is with your content.
5. Create content for which people can register to download
One of the best ways to build your email database is to entice your audience with other types of content. For our agency and our clients, we have developed white papers that were available for free, and all that was required was filling out a very short registration form. Part of the registration form can be an opt-in button for receiving your company’s email communications.
There are several benefits tied to this last approach. First, you are able to track the success of your content based on how many people register to download the piece. Second, you are generating content, which of course is beneficial in and of itself. Third, the people who are downloading your white paper or e-book are obviously interested in what you are producing. This gives them a good idea of what they can expect from your e-newsletters.
No matter how you choose to build your email database, the most important thing is to make sure your recipients have opted in. Not only is this a best practice but it is also a good way to make sure your content will be read upon receipt instead of simply thrown away.
We hope these tips help you. As always, if you have any questions just let us know!
Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/smemon/5167671844/ via Creative Commons