Your Email List Could Be Your Most Valuable Asset. Here's Why

Every good marketer knows that an effective campaign takes investment.

Well, except email marketing. It’s easy, and takes next to no money to run a campaign. Plus, there’s a huge return on the investment, since the investment is basically nothing. You just automate those campaigns, send out the emails, which cost pennies compared to direct mail and SEM and all the other types of campaigns, and watch the profits roll in. Pat yourself on the back and go have a nap, marketer.

You did your job. Awesome, right?

NOPE. Wake up, lazy. Nap time’s over.

That scenario is what we in the marketing biz (and like, every other biz) like to call complacency. Yes, email marketing comes with huge returns even when you don’t put too much time, effort or money into your campaigns. But when the ROI is that high, doesn’t that mean you should be investing more? You know, so you can maximize your return? That’s just economics 101.

If you want your email list to reach its full, money-making potential, you have to start treating it like the gold mine that it is. Yes, your email list has the potential to generate a bunch of new revenue. It also has the potential to increase customer loyalty, create personal connections between your customers and your brand, and reduce your operating costs. But it’s not going to do any of that if you don’t value it and give it the time and resources it deserves.

Here’s how to make that email list work for you like never before.

What’s an email list? Why do I want one? How do I get one?

First, some basics.

Simply put, an email list is a list of email addresses you can use to reach current or potential customers. But if your only goal is to create that, you won’t have a good setup for effective email marketing. You need the right email list, and that’s where things get just a little bit more complicated (but still easy and affordable, calm down).

The best email list for email marketing is one in which the email addresses are willingly given — as in, your customers opt in to receive your emails. If you’re harvesting email addresses somehow and sending unsolicited marketing campaigns, you’re spamming and the people on your email list probably hate you. Name a successful marketing campaign that started with potential customers hating the business. I’ll wait.

Once you’ve established that you’re only going to collect and use email addresses from people who actually want to hear from you, there are a few qualities you should look for in order to create the most effective email list possible. In order, they are:

You need quality first, because the addresses on your email list need to be from real, live humans who check and open their email. That’s important, obviously.

Next is relevance, because the people on your email list need to care about your business. Again, obviously.

And last is volume. If you have quality, relevant addresses on your email list, focus on getting more of them. Because the more addresses are on your list, the more people you can reach with each campaign. Send more emails. Get more ROI. Profit.

“But wait!” you may be thinking right about now. “My grandma uses email. That means it’s archaic and ‘over’ and won’t work for my trendy, modern business.”

You know who uses email in addition to your grandma? Literally everyone. Not everyone is on social media, but virtually everyone has (and uses) an email address. Email has become a common form of modern communication that many people use daily. You can go a few days without checking your Instagram, but can you say the same for your email? Probably not.

Plus, email is direct and customizable. It can be personalized based on data you have about your customers, and then it lands right in their inbox. It’s just for them. That feels different to the recipient than, say, scrolling by an ad in a social feed, even if that ad is targeted and personalized.

But the bottom line for why your email list is so valuable? According to Direct Marketing Association, the average ROI for email marketing is 4,300%. What other campaign is going to net you results that dramatic? Email works.

OK, I’m convinced. Now how do I build my email list?

Obviously, this is exactly what you don’t want.

The sad truth is that most people ignore and delete emails from brands. That’s why you have to do this right, and build a list of email addresses that belong to people who care about your brand.

Step one is creating great content. If your content is unparalleled in the value it offers to readers, they will find it and they will subscribe to your emails so they know when more of it comes out. If you aren’t a writer, you’re going to want to hire someone to do this for you (and pay them well, because this is extremely important). Your content will take time to develop, but be patient, Grasshopper. It will pay off in the end.

Once you have good content, put it to use. Compile blog posts on a certain topic into something like an ebook to offer people in exchange for their email addresses. This is called a lead magnet, and it encourages lots of people to sign up for your email list, because people just love free stuff.

Once you have some high-quality addresses on your email list, make them work for you. Add share features all over the place — in the body of your email, on your blog posts, on your landing page. People who love your content will want to share it, increasing the chances it’ll be seen by other people who will love your content.

And finally, use calls to action. Experiment with different ways to add them, like pop-ups and external sources that drive more eyes to your website or blog.

How will this make me money?

Of course, the most important thing to you is how this is all going to put more cash in your pocket.

Once you have all these high-quality subscribers, you can start using them to collect insights that allow you to create the most efficient and effective campaigns you’ve ever run. Purchase history, time from first entry to purchase, time between purchases, average order, lifetime value, lifespan, number of orders in specific time frames — the amount of information you can collect is basically limitless.

And once you have all that solid-gold information, you use it to segment your customers and prospects so you can evaluate the results of your campaigns with precision like you’ve never seen before. This is how you’ll create a benchmark that you can use to measure every campaign you run from now until forever. You’ll learn what works best. What makes you the most money. And it’ll all be backed up by data.

No matter how much your email list has been languishing, it’s not too late to put it to work. Use these tips (check out our newsletter for more ideas) to take it from spam to solid gold.

Paul Perry

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