5 Ways Small Businesses Can Grow Their Email Marketing Lists

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Email marketing is incredibly important for both customer retention and acquisition. Although social media and mobile messaging get the bulk of the attention these days when it comes to notifying people about limited-time discounts and events, 64% of customers still say that email is their favorite channel for hearing about a retailer’s upcoming sales and promotions.

Of course, email newsletters are only effective if they’re being seen by consumers who are interested and engaged with the content a business is sending out. Many businesses struggle with finding ways to grow their email marketing lists, especially businesses that haven’t developed methods for acquiring their customers’ contact information during transactions that occur at the point of sale. Here are five tips from email marketing experts about how merchants can grow their marketing lists and deliver more effective email messages.

1. Jump in with a clear set of goals. Merchants need to establish their goals before they begin building their email marketing lists. A few basic questions every business owner should ask himself or herself include: Who do I want to acquire, why do I want to acquire them, and what is the success metric? Businesses should focus on developing success metrics that are centered around profit or ROI, rather than cost per action (CPA). (Dan Quintero, AdStack)

2. Make the invitation obvious. Businesses need to make it clear that they’re collecting email addresses for e-newsletters and promotions, either by placing a guest book by their registers or using dedicated computer screens to help catch the eye of customers. If a small business has a physical presence, it’s a good rule of thumb to always have a way for customers to sign-up for email newsletters from inside the store. Outside the establishment, businesses should include a link to join their email lists on their websites, Facebook pages, and email signatures. They should also make it easy for customers to sign up on their mobile devices—either by manually texting a number or by scanning QR codes. (Ron Cates, Constant Contact)

3. Follow up to combat email churn. It’s important for businesses to send timely and relevant follow-ups to people who have signed up for their email lists as a way to combat email churn. By sending automatic follow-ups in real time, merchants can remind customers why they signed up and decrease the number of unsubscribe requests. Merchants who don’t have email marketing expertise can use an automation tool like Social FollowUp, which is available through the AdLeads platform, to compile recent Facebook and Twitter posts into professional-looking emails that can be sent out to new subscribers in real time. (Arun Krishnan, Pontiflex)

4. Create separate lists for different types of customers. It’s never too early to start segmenting lists based on customer demographics and geographic location. Having multiple lists gives businesses flexibility, and makes it possible for merchants to send targeted email promotions to customers who’ve demonstrated an interest in particular products or services in the past. For example, a pet store can send out a specific promotion to customers who own dogs, or an SMB can see if newer customers are more interested in promotions than older customers. Having segmented lists makes it easier to target the people who might be interested in specific types of offers and track the results of email campaigns. (Ron Cates, Constant Contact)

5. Analyze campaigns at a granular level. Ideally, merchants should optimize every point of the conversion funnel, including open rates (the subject line), click rates (the creative content), and conversion rates (landing page clicks). Businesses can also analyze their campaigns by source, vertical, and geographic or demographic factors. When they look at their success metrics and watch for trends over time, business owners can pinpoint the specific areas where improvement is needed. Merchants who need help optimizing their campaigns should research some of the most popular technologies available today, including AdStack, Optimizely, Optizmo, Rapleaf, and Lashback. (Dan Quintero, AdStack)

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

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Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.