Compared to cutting-edge concepts like voice search, chatbots and augmented reality, email is a well-established and familiar part of the digital marketing landscape.
Fortunately for marketers, this channel appears to have lost none of its potential to support customer engagement over the years. Research has shown that email marketing offers return on investment of $44 for every $1 spent, and 82% of B2B and B2C companies use it.
If email is a key part of your organization’s efforts to nurture leads and build customer relationships, one of your main goals will be to consistently expand your list of contacts. This is something of a challenge, seeing as the average email marketing database is thought to degrade by about 22.5% every year.
To maintain and grow your email list, one of your fundamental priorities should be to build a strong community. So what are the key steps towards achieving that goal?
1. Encourage sharing and forwarding
Positive word-of-mouth and user recommendations are hugely valuable commodities for any business. If you can get people talking about your brand in positive terms and encouraging their friends to use your products, they are essentially doing your marketing for you.
There are various features you can incorporate into your email communications to encourage and support sharing. Adding an ‘Email to a friend’ button makes it quick and easy for someone who is impressed with your latest newsletter to forward it on, while prominently placed social sharing buttons can be just as important.
However, it’s not enough to simply ask or encourage people to forward on your email communications; you need to deliver content of a sufficient quality so people feel compelled to share it.
2. Provide great content
Offering genuinely interesting, educational or entertaining content is arguably the most important part of continuing to engage your existing email contacts and reaching new potential customers.
The content distributed in your email newsletters should be designed to reflect the needs, interests and ambitions of your target audience. Clear pictures of your typical buyers and what is important to them will be crucial to planning your email marketing efforts and designing each piece of communication to achieve maximum impact.
If you aren’t satisfied with the results you’re getting from email, consider trying new types of content that could grab people’s attention and keep them interested, such as embedded videos, exclusive deals for email contacts and how-to guides that focus on the needs of the customer, not the business.
3. Use fun online features to encourage sign-ups
When it comes to collecting new email contacts to add to your list, one of the most effective ways to go about it is by adding fun and unusual features to your website that people access by registering their email address.
One example is an online quiz - something that is always likely to prove popular among people casually browsing online. As well as providing opportunities to add new email addresses to your distribution list, a quiz will offer an enjoyable, memorable experience for users, which improves the perception of your brand.
Furthermore, quizzes and other quirky features can help your website stand out from the crowd.
4. Offer something for free
People will be much more willing to share their email address with you if they are getting something in return. Based on your past knowledge and experience in your industry, as well as any other resources you might have at your disposal, look into some free tools or simple services you can offer to online users who submit their contact details.
By delivering something valuable for free, you are providing an instant benefit to the customer and laying the foundations for what could grow into a rewarding relationship.
5. Invest in lead-generation content
Lead-generation content could be anything from an ebook or whitepaper to a podcast or a piece of exclusive research. These sorts of valuable assets can be ‘gated’ - accessed through a landing page that asks users to provide their email address if they want to download it.
The key priority here is to offer something interesting and valuable enough for people to share their details, and once they have accessed the resource to feel that it was a worthwhile use of their time and effort. If you decide to go with an ebook or whitepaper, for example, make sure you back it up with a lot of careful planning, research and expert insights to create a quality end product.
When people become accustomed to getting this sort of content from you, they will be happy to continue receiving regular email newsletters and could become a valuable ambassador for your brand.