Build, Manage and Grow Powerful Mailing Lists

The mailing list is an extremely important component of all Email marketing initiatives. There are several ways to get one – rent one, buy one or subcontract the entire email marketing function to a services provider. Any of these methods are at best a short term solution. and at its worst a morale buster on account of poor list quality leading to poor results.

All serious Email marketers invest time, effort and money in building high quality lists. The results of any email marketing campaign is as good as your list. Compiling, maintaining and consistently building a business relevant mailing list is worth every dollar that goes into it

Characteristics of a Powerful email list:

1.All the contacts in the list have opted-in to receive email communications from you
2. Your contact list also has the first name, last name and preferably a telephone and address apart from the email address. Stay miles away from any list that offers only email id’s. Additional information such as age, occupation and other profiling variables will help you target your messages better.
3. The profile of contacts in the list are there in your list because of their interest in your business (product/services). They are either your customers or your prospects.
4. The email id’s are current, and have been tested recently
5. The contacts have not blocked you as spam
6. Your list has been built over time, and has grown over time.

Building that powerful mailing list

Building a list is an ongoing activity. It only has a start point. Never a end-point. There are several ways to build, maintain and grow one. Consider what works best for you and implement it. Let’s take a look at some of the options, methods and processes:

Rent or buy a list

It’s very tempting to get the first campaign out the door at the earliest. This compels us to look for ready lists. Rented or bought lists are largely ineffective and a waste of money. There are however some exceptions. If your customers are other businesses, you could look at procuring/renting a mailing list from another non-competitor business that sells to the same customers. For example, if your business is Computers, you could consider renting subscriber lists from publishers of computer magazines Their lists will be current and relevant to your business.

Build your own list

Nothing beats building your own list. You can mail to the list as many times as you wish and not have to pay for it each time. You can remove ids that have bounced, update new email id’s of customers, analyze responses to campaigns, segment the list into different categories and target different campaigns to each and so on. Nothing else gives you the same flexibility, list effectiveness and freedom as owning your list.

Use your customer database

Your customer database is a good starting point. Always ensure your communications to customers clearly recognize them as existing customers as against how you would address prospects. Customers like to be recognized and pampered. And every communication to them is an opportunity to do so. Ensure that you treat customers as a separate entity for any Email Marketing campaign.

Use your website

If you have a website calling for visitors to register (for information, as guests, subscribing to mailing lists, sales enquiries etc) – this is another place from which to gather data for your mailing list

Use your sales team

If you have a field sales team, each of them would have visiting cards of people they have met at different organizations. This information may or may not be there in your CRM depending on your Sales Information System and the diligence of the sales team in keeping the CRM updated. Set up a process for collecting the visiting cards on a periodic basis, scan them and add them to your email list. Remember to slot them into relevant categories such as: Prospects,Customer and User,decision maker, influencer etc.

Take the help of your colleagues

You can ask colleagues from other departments to help you. Each of them will have contact information that could be relevant to you.

Have a CRM/ERP?

If you have a CRM/ERP in your organization – the software for sure will yield an excellent email list. You will get more relevant data from the CRM module than what’s in the ERP modules. The ERP module may get you details of CFO’s and Financial officers in client organizations. Finance plays a critical role in most purchase decisions, and your CRM module may or may not have contact information of the finance folks.

Collate from published sources

If your target customers are likely to have their contacts published in various web resources, you could commission an agency to compile the contact information for you. This could be from the website of the organizations (for example: schools and colleges publish contact information of their faculty, staff and administration), printed directories, Association website, and a whole range of other web resources that may yield current and relevant data.Effective email marketing calls for ongoing efforts towards building mailing list, and keeping it clean (remove invalid email ids, update unsubscribe requests etc)

Managing the List

Businesses that have a full fledged marketing organization and consider Email marketing a important marketing tool will have someone designated to build and manage the lists. In the absence of a reliable employee that this can be designated to, it would be a good option to outsource this function to a professional Email marketing outfit. London Whomever you outsource to, consider long-term business relationships before parting with the list

If you or the Email marketing outfit is planning on using one of the many hosted Email marketing applications, insist that you have your own account (ideally open it yourself) and ensure that you always have the login details for this account.

Mailing list security

A mailing list is a very valuable asset for any organization. However it is often delegated to the custody of junior members of the organization without necessary safeguards such as a NDA. While most people have integrity and are honest, there is no reason for an organization to test them. Anyone handling the list or having access to it should be of known high integrity and accountability. They should also subject to specific non-disclosure agreement in regard to the custody of the list. If you should outsource your list management to an external organization make sure that they have a good reputation and you have a non-disclosure agreements in place.

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