Some Tips for Starters

Email marketing techniques -- newsletters, announcements, promotions -- are an inexpensive way to reach prospects and customers with your message. You don't pay for the printing or postage as you do with direct mail, and the ability to see results immediately is another advantage. Where the activity cycle -- from the moment of mailing to receiving all the responses -- for direct mail (print) can be a month or more, an email campaign can turn around in 48 hours or less.

The big issue is how to build a list without stepping into the realm of

spamming (sending promotions without consent or the ability to get off the list).

Use Your Current List of Customers and Contacts

You probably already have a number of email addresses collected in your contact management software, your aol address book, your ecommerce database, etc. This should be your first source of addresses.

Email Appending

Add email addresses (you can use a service to do this) to the contacts and street addresses that you already have. This is controversial in that some people call it spam, and can create an angry response from people on your list.

Rent Opt-in Lists

Rent lists from vendors that sell addresses of people who have given permission fo address use. There are a variety of vendors who sell targeted opt-in lists for one-time or multiple use. The vendor will do the mailing for you and you retain addresses after recipients take an action that gives you their email. The prices on lists vary widely (usually starting at $.10 per email), and it is likely that you will have to make a minimum order of at least $500.

Use Lists of Groups You are Associated With

This can fit into the spam category, and some associations and groups specifically prohibit bulk mailings to members by other members. Some associations will expel you for this kind of activity, but some are more permissive. Check before you act! Some possible sources:

  • Association Lists
  • Networking Groups
  • Business Groups (Chambers, etc.)
  • Referral Directories

Collect Addresses on Your Site

Promote the value of your newsletter or mailing list on your web site and use special functions to encourage sign-up:

  • Pop-up windows
  • Pop Under Windows
  • Registration for articles, etc.

Promote Your Newsletter in Your Email

Add a newsletter promotion to your email signature file. In addition to promoting your web site, this is a good way to get people you know to sign up for your newsletter if you aren't comfortable with adding them to the list automatically.

Trade Lists with Other Organizations and Businesses

You can often set up list exchanges with other businesses for one-time or multiple use. Make sure that you have the permission of your list members to do this or you can create a lot of anger among your list members.

Collect Email Addresses on the Web

Many people publish their email addresses on the web (on their web sites or in directories). You can manually collect these email addresses or use software (robots) to do this automatically. This method of getting addresses is definitely in the spam category, so you should be very careful here.

Offer a Bounty for Email Addresses

There are simple affiliate-type programs that enable you to buy live addresses from site visitors at a per address cost (average $.25 per). This could get you into spam trouble, but it can also be a source of names for you.

Buy Bulk Email Addresses

Buying addresses in bulk is definitely in the "spam" category. You have probably seen the ads to buy millions of email addresses for $29.95. Many of these addresses are not active, they have been sold many times over, they are not permission-based, and they are not targeted. The people who sell these lists are generally sleazy, and will probably be hard to find after they have your money. But still, this method of building your list is still active, and some people (particularly the list sellers) continue to find it profitable.

Remind Subscribers to Forward Your Newsletter to Friends

Create the opportunity for your subscribers to forward your email newsletter. If your content is high-value, this "viral" method can multiply your subscribers very effectively. Make sure to provide subscribe information in your newsletter so that the recipient of the forward can easily get on the list.

Submit Your Articles to Other Newsletters

Your great content can encourage subscribers to sign up for your newsletter, and the cost of the promotion is the use of your content.

Promote your List in Other Newsletters

Many newsletter publishers will allow you to promote your newsletter in their mailings for a fee or for some kind of exchange, including promoting their newsletter in yours.

Announce and Promote Your Newsletter on Other Sites

There are a number of sites that promote or list different newsletters for people to subscribe to. Topica, for example, has a large directory of people that use their services, and being part of that directory can get you new subscribers. You can also join up with other newsletter publishers with common target markets and list your newsletters together on each of the publisher's sites.

Co-Registration on Other Sites

Here, you and another site owner swap or pay for Web or email real estate on a Web site or in a newsletter in order to gain subscribers or other beneficial actions. For example, when you sign up for one newsletter, you are automatically given the opportunity to sign up for three relevant newsletters. The publishers of these newsletters have agreed to swap Web space with us. It works extremely well because as high as 80% of the subscribers joining your newsletter will sign up for other newsletters of interest to them. The Implied endorsement is nearly the most powerful way to boost return on investment within advertising and email lists.

Become the Definitive Newsletter in Your Category

Obviously having great value to your market and becoming the "must have" newsletter is going to be important in building your list. This kind of value travels fast by word-of-mouth.

Understanding the request form...

  • What are you selling: Most email campaigns are selling a product or service. Name that product and/or service in this field. (for example: security services, accounting software)
  • Target Market: Name here who you see as the market or potential buyers of your product/service. (for example: home owners, accountants)
  • Size of your mailing: How many emails do you plan to send -- this will affect your potential revenue and cost. (for example: 100,000 to 250,000)
  • Your Time Frame: When do you plan to do your mailing? (for example: mailing within one month)
  • Campaign Details: Give a more complete description of what you are planning. (for example: I plan to do 3 sequential mailings to homeowners in New Jersey in order to sell a new security system.)
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