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September 12, 2008

5 Tips to Build a Solid Email Marketing Database

by Anthony Verre

Email Marketing Database: Quality over Quantity

I thought we’d switch gears today, take a break from the SEO blogs, and talk about something vital to everyone’s business: reaching consumers with targeted communications. Yes, that’s right, I’m discussing email marketing today (as you may have guessed from the title).

This is key component to any business, reaching out to consumers and building solid brand recognition. And, hopefully, brand loyalty. The first thing that needs to be done, is build a QUALITY database with WILLING participants. For a small and medium businesses this is the real challenge, so I’ve comprised 5 easy tips to building a solid email database:

  1. List Brokers = IF’Y RESULTS

Buying giant data lists from list brokers is something you DON’T want to start with. Sure, you can instantly supplement your database with hundreds, possibly thousands, of email addresses and fire your communique out. But there’s two reasons to hold off on this route:

  • Quality of email address is not guaranteed. Who knows how many hard bounces and spam filters you’ll be trapped in.
  • The people you are sending to did not opt to receive your email. While I’m convinced the folks selling this list have a found a loophole in the FCC’s SPAM regulations, the last thing you want to do is start building resentment toward your brand by pushing unwanted communications on them.

2. Clean Your List Up

If you have already purchased a list, that’s ok. Once your emails go out, look at the data and clean up your list.

3. Bigger Doesn’t = Better

5,000 email addresses are great, 10,000 is better. Wrong, especially if they came from a list broker. The object of your database should be QUALITY. I’d rather have 500 quality people to send out to that are going to open my email, click-through to my site, and get in the purchase funnel.

4. Low Open Rates=Higher Spam Marks=Blacklisted

This is almost self-explanatory. Our data shows, and common sense prevails, purchased lists have very low open rates, receive higher spam marks from email providers, and continually pushes you closer to getting blacklisted.

5. A/B Testing, Co-Branded Communications, and Contests

A/B Testing:

take the money you were going to use to buy a list, and do some usability testing on your emails and your website. Send out variants of your email with long/short copy and layout rearrangements. Check out your site and make sure that people can FIND AND SIGN easily. Ask a couple of friends, pay some strangers, to test it out for you and give you feedback.

Co-Branded Communications:

hook-up with another company in your area and petition them to send a co-branded email with your company. This could earn you plenty of “trust” points with consumers and they’ll be willing to sign up for emails in the future.

Contests and Campaigns:

start a contest or a campaign. It’s a great way to get people to give you their email address in the off-chance they’ll win something.

So the idea is to get quality people on quality lists by staying away from database brokers. You should clean up your lists periodically, probably once a month, to make sure you’ve got the highest quality opens when your email goes out. And, to build bigger lists of your own, co-brand your email or start a contest.

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