In marketing, there are few assets more valuable than a good email list. The operative word here is “good.” Email marketing is an effective and a low-cost way to reach your clients and prospects as long as you have a solid list.

I’ll take an email address over a Facebook “like” or LinkedIn “follow” any day of the week. Why? Social media algorithms change on a whim, which means that you can’t rely solely on these channels for your marketing outreach. Few people realize how low your actual exposure may be with social media, even among your followers. For instance, less than six percent of Facebook followers see your posts. You can do the math — this is not great visibility unless you have a very high number of followers.

Email gives you more control. You are not subject to the impulses of other channels or companies but, rather, you have a direct line to your customer or prospect.

However, all emails are NOT created equal.

Follow The Law: An Overview

There are right ways and wrong ways to collect email addresses — we implore you to do it the right way.

The CAN-SPAM law in the United States offers direction on the proper way to send emails, including:

  • Not using misleading information
  • Including your physical address
  • Offering, and obeying, an opt-out rule

With GDPR, a European Union law, you should ask questions, including:

  • Where is this contact located geographically?
  • Did this contact properly opt-in?
  • Do you have a privacy policy that you communicate to email recipients?

Don’t Buy A List

No matter how tempting it may be, DON’T buy a list. There are too many pitfalls to purchased lists. Spam traps, hard bounces, and spam reports could put you in the doghouse with your email software.

The other — and main — reason you shouldn’t purchase a list is that they aren’t effective. It may seem nice to have thousands of contacts on your list. But if only 100 of those emails are good, it’s much better to have a smaller list  The best lists you can use are those built from opt-ins, such as a form on your website.

Every single email software — MailChimp, SharpSpring, HubSpot, Contact Science — is bound by Spam and GDPR, and they must keep you accountable. We have learned this lesson the hard way, when a client unknowingly uploaded a purchased list that included spam traps. The remediation took a long time. It is not worth the time on the phone, getting your account reinstated, or the remediating actions such as batching your lists.


Collect Good Emails

Getting folks to opt into your list is a slow process, but the emails you collect will be much more valuable for you. Here are a few tactics you can use.

  • Add Opt-Ins On Your Website: Add call-to-actions on your website asking for email addresses. Consider using pop-ups — they may seem irritating to you, but they are effective.
  • Ask For Subscribers on Social Media: Periodically add a post asking for email subscribers. Be clear how the email will be used.
  • Lead Magnets: Create gated content — such as e-books, white papers, and templates — that users can download in exchange for their contact information.

Organize Existing Emails

Not every company needs a full-blown customer relationship management (CRM) solution. If you are just getting started collected emails and contacts, keep it simple at first and then consider graduating to a more sophisticated system.

Start collecting contact information today! We have worked with many clients who need to get their contacts in order. The process is not fun or fast or easy, but it is necessary. 

  • Collect. Download contacts from your email sources, such as Outlook and Gmail, into an Excel spreadsheet.
  • Scrub. Weed through your spreadsheet removing outdated and irrelevant contacts and updating emails for friends and family who have changed jobs, etc. Go for quality, not quantity.
  • Use the Cloud. If you have multiple contributors in your organization who need access to update their contacts, consider saving the spreadsheet in the cloud so everyone is working off of the same document. Or use a tool such as Smartsheet, which is essentially a cloud-based spreadsheet that can be downloaded into Excel.

By starting to collect emails today — in the right way — you will put yourself on a great path for successful email marketing in the future.

Lauren Yates - Principal & Co-Founder | Thinkwell Consulting LLC
Principal & Co-founder at ThinkWell Consulting | lauren@thinkwellconsulting.com

Lauren Yates is a principal and co-founder of ThinkWell Consulting, LLC. Here, she writes about consulting, entrepreneurship, and digital marketing.

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