The holy grail of email marketing is an email list populated with people you can, to a certain extent, define. To this end the vast majority of your effort and planning must go towards three targets:
- getting people to opt in,
- retaining those who have opted in, and
- gaining as much useful data on them as you require.
The first of these can be the most difficult so this brief article will be restricted to that particular point and the others will be covered in a later one.
All contacts between you and your customers should be seen as opportunities to obtain their email address and their consent to direct marketing emails. Those who log onto your website should be presented with incentives to opt in. Show them what they are missing: the prize draws, the percentage reductions, the free postage.
Whilst alerts and newsletters are an excellent vehicle in themselves they should be seen also as a route into full-on direct marketing. By sticking to what you promised them when they signed up for the specific contact, you are demonstrating that you can be trusted and by ticking the box that you included in the alert might well be of benefit to them. What have they got to lose? Take them to a microsite, a specific page on your website that details all the offers and benefits others receive.
Show that you pay special attention to those on your direct marketing list. Restrict part of your website for those on your list with facilities unique to them and dangle a little of it for those on the outside to make them want to join. Make sure that every invoice, bill, receipt and acknowledgement contains a link to your microsite and a method to opt in.
Just because email marketing is electronic, do not forget that face to face meetings with customers provide an opportunity to get them to sign on. Conferences, trade shows, point of sale, those phoning in as well as your trade counter are all openings that well motivated staff can use to get customers to opt in.
On a practical note: those who write down customers’ email addresses should be trained to recognise one which is obviously incorrect and, most importantly, to write it out in capital letters. Your forms should have a big, wide window. If the box is small the majority of staff will try to fit the email address into it.
If you provide some incentive for your staff to collect email addresses, errors are likely to be fewer. However, with the offer of such bonuses staff might be tempted to tick the box regardless of the customers’ wishes so it is a good idea to send a confirmatory email before adding them to your list.
Tom Hanks, Monty Python and Indiana Jones pursued their holy grail, with varying degrees of success. With a bit of planning and some hard work you will be able to avoid killer rabbits, albino monks and Nazis.