Sign me up! Building and maintaining a strong data list

Every email marketing campaign should start with the same question, “who am I talking to?” This question defines your approach across every stage of your campaign creation, from writing your email copy and designing the look and feel, to deciding when you will send the email and even how you’ll analyse its performance.

With the work that goes into designing, building, and sending the perfect email, you want to know that yours stands the best chance of being seen. This starts with a data list full of subscribers who have opted in and regularly engage with your email content. So, what makes a strong data list?

Organic vs Purchased

Although purchased lists are a quick way to build up your database, the best – and most GDPR-compliant – lists will be made up of contacts who have knowingly and intentionally signed up to receive your emails. From a purchased list you could get lucky and come across a small handful of contacts who engage with your email and become genuine subscribers, but without knowing the quality or source of the data, an unsubscribe is more likely! And beware, too much negative engagement can harm your sending reputation and the deliverability of future emails.

Growing your own data list may take longer to develop into substantial numbers, but your emails will perform better as they are going to people who have asked to hear about your content. Remember, the more transparent you are with your contacts about the content and frequency of your emails, the better they will perform.

Building your subscriber lists

There are several ways that you can get people to sign up to your emails, all of which involve the individual providing consent for you to send marketing emails, and ticking that GDPR box!

  • Sign-up forms – create a simple form on your website that adds the contact to a subscriber list on your email marketing platform. Remember to make the initial sign-up nice and quick, so don’t ask for too much info as this could put them off subscribing! There’s plenty of time to ascertain preferences and other information in your welcome and other follow-up emails.
  • Social media – use your social media accounts to promote your email content and encourage your followers to sign up by linking through to a form on your website.
  • Gated content – provide exclusive, high-quality ‘Help’ content on your website that is only accessible when the individual signs up to your emails.
  • Events/exhibitions – use any face-to-face time (when that becomes more possible again!) to gain new subscribers.
  • Purchases – use a customer purchases as an opportunity to build on that existing interest in your company, product, or service.
  • Offers and discounts – provide exclusive offers to your contacts that are only available with signing up to your emails.

To strengthen the quality of your data lists even further, use a double opt-in process so that the subscriber will receive an automated email upon signing up, asking them to confirm their opt-in. This is a great way of filtering out spam traps. It also shows that they are an active subscriber, and you know that your emails are getting through to their inbox.

Getting your ducks in a row

With a strong list of engaged and opted-in recipients you need to make sure the content you are sending remains relevant. While it can be tempting to send as much as possible to as many people as possible, by narrowing focus your campaigns can remain relevant to your recipients, in turn increasing click through rates and crucially decreasing unsubscribes.

How you choose to segment your data will largely depend on the needs of your customers, but you may want to consider:

  • Demographics – such as location, gender, age, job function, industry etc.
  • History – has the recipient bought something from you before, downloaded piece of content or attended an event?
  • Known preferences – what did they originally opt-in to receive? Was it a regular newsletter, information on a specific product or service, or a limited-time offer?
  • Previous email interaction – recipients who regularly interact with your emails may be happier to hear from you more frequently, or you may be able to gain insight into a specific product or service they’re researching before making a purchase.

It’s important to regularly analyse your email reporting to gain insight into what’s working, but perhaps more critically, what’s not. You can use this data to inform future decisions on email content, design, and also to review how you can further segment your data list.

Time to say goodbye?

If you’re properly analysing your email reporting, at some point you will come across recipients who are no longer actively engaging with your content. In that case you may want to consider offering the opportunity to opt-out. While letting go of your hard-won subscribers may seem scary, if they do choose to go they were likely never going to convert anyway, and you are then left with a smaller, but more engaged and cleaner data list.

Offering the opportunity to unsubscribe to those who aren’t engaging with your content doesn’t always lead to an opt-out, instead the low engagement could be that your emails have simply not been hitting their inbox at an optimal time, or perhaps your subject lines haven’t managed to grab their attention. If they do choose to stay on your mailing list it’s time to win back their attention.

Reengaging old contacts is about 50% cheaper than spending money on converting new visitors into email list subscribers. Your reengagement strategy could include reminding the recipient about the options within your preference centre, summarising new features to your services or products, or offering a discount on future purchases.

If you’re looking for support with a lead generation campaign that could boost your subscribers, or need help converting your existing contacts, then get in touch to see how we could help.