You worked for hours to create the best offer ever, it’s so good, so compelling, you even impressed yourself.  Who knew you were so creative to come up with a “call to action” that most people would have a difficult time saying no to. You’re anxious to see the results of this offer and can’t wait to get it into the hands of your customers.   The vehicle you use to do this, email. Unfortunately, you will not get the response this ad piece deserves because your mailing list is not quite up to par.  In fact, it probably takes less effort to build an effective” opted-in” list than it takes to create a great offer, so let’s review how easy it is to maintain and continue to build an effective opt-in email list so you can concentrate on creating great offers.

First there is list building,

Successful list building requires a combination of on-going subscriber retention and new subscriber acquisition. Two different actions that work together toward the same goal. First, realize there is no typical size for an opted-in email list.   Member size is attributed to many factors including:

  1.  Size of the company
  2.  Is there an established email marketing strategy
  3.  What are your email marketing expertiseRetention
  4.  In house control or using and ESP
  5. How addresses are collected  and as you can imagine there’s so much more.

Regardless of the size, the common goal for all list owners: keep list churn down and retention up.  It’s not unheard of to lose 30% of your opted-in list to churn, and if you are not successful adding new list subscribers regularly, well there goes your ROI

Retention is simply

  1. (try) Maintaining the same level of subscribers each month.
  2. Keeping list churn low.
  3. Adding new opt-in subscribers

With minimal effort retention is easy if you avoid working against it.  Do not add uninterested subscribers to your list.  Instead set up automatic subscriber tools. You can set up a single opted-in form on your website for your potential list members. Before they are added to your list the form requires an action on the part of the potential subscriber; normally entering their name and email address and then click on a “Subscriber” check box.  This will leave you with a subscriber who is interested and engaged in your future email.

Even better is the confirmed subscription or closed-loop opt-in (also known as double opted-in) options, this follows the same process as the single opted-in method, except, a confirmation email is sent to the subscribers before they are added to your list. The new list member must verify they want to join your list by confirming their membership.

Between the two methods mentioned, closed-loop opt-in has always been considered one of email marketing’s best practices. Both single and closed-loop opt-in programs are designed to provide automatic list growth and email address verification which in turn, gives positive support to your good sender reputation. .

Retention centers on, not only best email practices, but also on high-quality, relevant content.   Keep your list churn down by keeping content engaging and special.  Go that extra step for your readers, so for example, what they receive from you, cannot be easily obtained from other sources. (i.e. your store offers a 20% discount to walk-ins, you present your list subscribers with a 30% discount coupon)

Engaging emails are good, but make those special emails great with segments. The use of segments is by far, is one of the best email tools available. Segments allow the email marketer to target specific groups or people with relevant content that directly address their needs, wants and interests.

As you target those specific groups of people do not stray from the value you originally promised your list subscribers. When someone signed up for your weekly “tips and hints on dog grooming”, make sure you deliver a newsletter every week, with “tips and hints on dog grooming.” Moreover, to keep that list churn down and your retention numbers up: Email communications should be consistent.

  1. Don’t make the mistake of taking time off or mail sporadically
  2. With each mailing, use the same format and logo*
  3. Keep the same FROM address on each marketing piece
  4. Send fresh content, to keep your audiences interest.
  5. *From time to time revise your presentation, graphics for example
  6. Analyze your current email campaign results and use that data to streamline your next campaign

And, to keep your campaigns going and growing, utilize all opportunities to add new subscribers to your lists, opportunities that are both off and online

  1. Landing pages, should always include an opportunity to join your list, especially for those folks referred to that page by a friend
  2. Confirmation pages, whether sent in response to a white paper download or a sales receipt, provide a way for the recipients to subscribe to receive future communications from you
  3. Website, using analytics, place opted-in opportunities on the pages with the most traffic
  4. Include an opted-in offer to join your list on all your social networking pages. Include  them with your mobile marketing efforts too
  5. In house employees, train each and every one to offer a customer or potential customer the opportunity to sign up to your company newsletter
  6. All printed materials, from yellow pages (are they used?) to brochures, fliers, sales receipts and coupons, include a url to login and signup for your newsletter

There are other methods for list building, depending on how it’s done, who you do it with and how well it’s received. These include;:

  1. List rental (not always recommended)
  2. Guaranteed lead programs
  3. Paid search engine marketing
  4. List bartering

By implementing some of these methods your company will (economically)  build a concrete subscriber list that has become so critical for email marketing success.

Questions?  Feel free to comment below.

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