This is a very common question I receive in my class as a one of the Boot Camp trainers for Constant Contact’s hands-on product workshops.
The short answer is “yes.” The best practice answer is “no.”
Many traditional offline marketing channels, like direct mail or newspaper ads, allow for a “spray and pray” technique, where you try to reach as many people as possible, and hope for a decent return. In order for email marketing to be effective, it requires a very different approach.
The goal of email marketing is to build and grow your existing relationships with current customers through dynamic and engaging content, which will allow you to create repeat business and gain new customers through referrals and word-of-mouth.
Email marketing is all about the quality of your list, not the quantity of email addresses.
In addition to that, the rules are different for email marketing then they are for most other marketing options. Here’s why:
Sending email to the “unsuspecting” makes you a spammer — and that’s not a good thing!
Let’s say, I just opened a new business, Freddie’s Furniture Store, and I am trying to reach as many new people as possible to let them know I’m in business.
If I send someone a piece of direct mail like a flyer with a coupon, the worst thing that can happen is they throw that beautiful piece of marketing artwork into that round filing cabinet, a.k.a. the trash.
If I send someone an email with the same information, and they do not recognize 1) who I am or 2) why they are receiving an email from me, the worst thing that can happen is that they go up to the top of their Hotmail in box and click “Mark as Spam”. If I get enough spam complaints from Hotmail users, Hotmail will “blacklist” me and prevent me from ever emailing to their users again. The same applies for Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, etc.
In order to avoid being viewed as spam, you want to make sure your email recipients are expecting to see something from you when they dive into their inbox.
So, how do I grow my mailing list if I’m a new business?
There are a couple things you can do:
- Mail out your flyer instructing the recipients to visit your website, where you have the Constant Contact Join My Mailing List option set up. From there they can add themselves directly to your mailing list to receive your coupon.
- Make it even easier for them by putting a QR code on the flyer that links them directly to a mobile friendly version of your email sign-up form. We also have a Text-to-Join option that allows prospective customers to text their email address directly to your account.
- Collect where you connect: Put a link to the sign-up form in the footer of your personal email, on a partner company’s website, or on your Facebook Page and other social sites. Anywhere a potential customer is exposed to your brand.
- Ask folks for their email address when they come into the store (more people will give it to you than you think!)
All of these are great ways to gather a list of valuable prospects that are much more likely to lead to new/repeat business and limit the risk that you’ll be viewed as a spammer.
For other great resources to grow your database, check out the Constant Contact Marketplace.
Want to learn more about these tools and other great Constant Contact features, check out our hands-on product workshops.