Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to reach potential customers and, more importantly, to provoke a response. Even with decreasing open rates, emails can trigger actions better than most other marketing tools.
Just the other week I received a lovely email from a contact, whom I helped with some marketing ideas when she was first setting up her business a couple of years ago. One of the pieces of advice I gave her was to send regular email newsletters to her contacts in order to keep in touch, remind them who she is and what she does, and establish herself as a trusted expert in her field.
In her email she said, "I’d been trying to catch up with one of my biggest clients to find out their plans for 2016, with little success, for the last couple of months. 4 minutes after reading my newsletter he sent me an email asking me to do a proposal for a piece of work... Definitely pays to keep front of mind!"
Permission based marketing
The reason email differs from most other marketing activities is also the reason it is so effective: it's permission based.
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers was written by Seth Godin in 2007. In a related blog post he writes, "Permission marketing is the privilege (not the right) of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want to get them. It recognizes the new power of the best consumers to ignore marketing. It realizes that treating people with respect is the best way to earn their attention."
That is also the reason why most bought-in mailing lists get disappointing results. You need to earn your receipients' attention, so that they trust you enough to want to read your email.
So renting a mailing list, copying and pasting email addresses from a company website, or inputting contact details from an industry directory just don't do the job. They don't treat people with respect and you haven't done anything to earn their attention.
Build a list the right way
The first way to put together a mailing list, is to look at your existing customers. They have already done business with you, and, assuming you did a good job, they should be happy to hear from you again. In many cases, such as the example at the start of this article, it can be just the right reminder that they want to do business with you again.
Secondly, there are contacts who already trust you. Maybe you have spoken to them on the phone or met them at a networking event. Ask them if they'd like to receive regular tips related to your line of business. Don't assume they want to... that's not respectful... but asking them is. If they've actively agreed to receiving something from you, they are much more likely to appreciate it when it arrives.
And the third way? That's the hardest one, as it involves obtaining email addresses via earning attention and gaining trust from people you don't yet know - aka lead generation. The crucial word here is "earning". People don't give out their email addresses to just anyone. You need to make it worth their while.
The good news is that, as a lead generation agency, we know a bit about this stuff, and it's not as hard as it sounds. Provide lots and lots of really useful and relevant information, or content as it's known in marketing speak, to earn attention and gain trust. Then provide something even more amazingly useful and relevant which has real value to your potential customers... and ask for their email address in return. If you then continue to provide valuable information, you will continue to build trust and establish your expertise, and be there when they are in a position to buy what you sell.
You now have a really high quality, effective, mailing list of existing customers, current contacts and leads. They are happy to hear from you, but they are all at completely different stages of the buying decision process. So you won't be sending them all the same newsletter, will you? Be honest... will you?
Segmenting that list will make it many times more effective because you can send relevant, timely and, therefore, useful and valuable information to each of the different groups, rather than having to send bland, generic messages that suit everyone. Put yourself in their shoes - what would you rather read?
That means you can send existing customers information that helps them use your products or reminders about using your services again. And send information about the benefits of your products to new contacts, or case studies to people who are considering buying from you. Taking a little time to divide your list will pay dividends in the long term.
The partnership between lead generation and email marketing is a powerful one. Your lead generation marketing activity will supply a steady stream of email addresses of people who are starting to trust you and whose attention you have already earned. Your email marketing takes control of the communication process and caplitalises on that earned attention and builds more trust in order to create long-term relationships and long-term sales.