September 27, 2010

Top 5 List Growth Dos and Don'ts

by Susan Wall,

Top 5 List Growth Dos and Don’ts

By Jordan Cohen
VP of Business Development,
Pontiflex
Reach Jordan at Jordan@pontiflex.com.

Let’s face it, when it comes to your email marketing list, size matters.  And if you are like most email marketers, you’re probably under constant pressure to replenish and grow your list with engaged new subscribers.

While there are many opportunities out there to acquire new names and make your boss happy, there are just as many pitfalls to avoid. Here are my top 5 “dos and don’ts” for making sure that your list growth efforts return a healthy ROI, and that your brand’s good reputation is protected in the process.

1. Do generate list growth. Don’t buy it. Unless someone has affirmatively raised their hand and said “yes, please sign me up for your list,” their email address shouldn’t be added to your database. Email appends and 3rd party list purchases or rentals are never the way to go. Remember what your parents taught you: you’ll rarely win by taking the easy way out! For every one person who might respond to an offer they receive pursuant to a list purchase or append, there are thousands of others who will click “report spam” and find your lack of respect for their privacy offputting (and maybe even complain about you on their Twitter feed).

2. Do begin communicating with new subscribers immediately. Don’t let time lag between when they first sign up and first start hearing from you. Every new subscriber should be welcomed into your email program with a triggered confirmation email and begin to receive communications at a regular cadence. Clunky data transfers are a pain point to watch out for.  Make sure that you have the technology and processes set up to get your new customer’s data from Point A (the point of email address collection) to Point B (the right list in your database) in real-time.

3. Do be proactive about growing your list. Don’t sit back and wait for new customers to find you. In today’s day and age of “Digital ADD,” you have two options: either get lost in the abundant noise, or ride the wave to your advantage. Adopt a ubiquity strategy when it comes to acquiring new customers and put your opt-in form in front of consumers where they are, when they’re in a moment of engagement.  This can take many forms including “text to opt in” solicitations in TV, print and outdoor ads, to opt-in widgets on social networks like Facebook, to registration and transaction path advertising on 3rd party publisher and retailer web sites.

4. Do know where your subscribers come from. Don’t mail to names if you can’t trace their origin. Transparency holds the key to successful email subscriber acquisition. Customers should know exactly what they are signing up for. Just as important, marketers should always know exactly where the opportunities to opt in to their email newsletters are, and which channels individual customers are using to opt-in.  This will facilitate “right sizing” of email acquisition efforts as you faze out channels that are underperforming (low volume of sign ups, poor subscriber quality, etc.) and up your investment in those that are providing the most ROI.

5. Do use opt-in source to enhance relevancy and segmentation. Don’t send “one size fits all” messaging that disregards such important customer insight. Where and how people opt-in tells you a lot about your new customers.  Did your new customer sign up to hear from you on through an iPhone app?  Their tech savvy and affluence means that you’ll want to communicate with them differently than subscribers who opted in via hand-written postcards at brick-and-mortar locations.

At the end of the day, marketers should strive for quantity while remaining committed to quality. After all, your email list is only as good as the company it keeps.

Pontiflex is the leading email and social acquisition marketing platform and also a Bronto solution partner. Bronto clients use Pontiflex to help grow their permission marketing lists.

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