Best Practices to Create an Email Marketing List

In a previous post, we discussed various best practices for maintaining a healthy email marketing list.  Today, we’ll talk about best practices for creating or building you email marketing list.  In creating your list, there are as many “don’t do’s” that are just as (or even more) important than your “to do’s”.

  1. Don’t recreate the wheel – Find a third-party tool (Constant Contact, mail chimp and iContact are some credible choices) that helps you maintain your email list efficiently and accurately as you start to send out emails.  Your tool should provide easy methods for segmenting your lists so you can target your emails to the exact audience you want to send to.
  2. Don’t buy a list – Many people are used to buying lists for direct (snail) mail, so they think that they can buy a list for email marketing too.  Don’t waste your money. While services are available to purchase emails, good email marketing tools (like those listed above) require you to state that you did NOT purchase an email list prior to adding the contacts to your lists.  Think about it from your perspective… do you enjoy receiving emails from vendors / companies that you didn’t ask to receive marketing messages from?  Most people don’t and will mark your email as SPAM.  With too many SPAM complaints, your email messages (and possibly overall email marketing account) could be shut down.
  3. Don’t confuse transactional emails with marketing emails – Just because someone purchased something from you in the past, doesn’t mean they want to receive your weekly emails.  It’s okay to ask them during their transaction if they want to opt-in, but don’t assume that purchase = permission.
  4. Offer the ability for people to sign-up / opt-in on your website
    Most email marketing tools/software provide widgets that can be easily installed so users who sign-up go straight into your list(s).
  5. Offer the ability for people to sign-up / opt-in through your social media pages
    Again, most email marketing providers can give you easy-to-follow instructions to add your signups to social media sites like facebook.
  6. Have a guestbook / sign-up sheet for people to provide their email address at your place of business
    Even for those of you who are tech-savvy, not all of your clients or customers may be.  Give them the option to sign-up for your emails by adding their name by hand to a list.  Some people offer an immediate discount to clients as an incentive to sign-up.
  7. In all places where you ask people to sign-up, accurately communicate what they will be receiving – and how often they will receive it.
    When people sign-up, they’ll have expectations on what they are going to receive whether you set expectations or not.  If your emails don’t match their expectations, they’ll likely opt-out (or mark you as SPAM) the first chance they get.  As part of setting expectations, make sure your privacy policy is easily accessible and well-defined.

By following these set of best practices, you can start to create a great marketing list to continue to build on.

Related Posts: maintaining a healthy email marketing list

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