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Email Marketing 101 — Contact List

Part Two: Establishing a contact list and hitting the inbox

Previously, we covered finding an email service provider (ESP) for your email campaign and some available options; now you need a strong list of contacts to receive this marketing — in their inbox, not the spam folder.

First, implement email list-building tactics. “The best thing you can do is put a signup form or an opt-in opportunity at every possible customer touch point,” says Andy Shore, content and social networking manager for Benchmark, an ESP. Consider putting an opt-in in the following places:

In-person: Forms at the check-out counter in your showroom, at home shows and expos. Alternatively, when you’re on the phone with customers, ask if they’d like to receive updates.

Website: A checkbox on the contact page to opt in to email updates; a sign-up form at the top of every web page.

Social media: A button at the top of your Facebook page; links on your Twitter or Instagram profiles.

Mobile: Give the option to text to join the email list, or scan a QR code that takes them directly to the sign-up form.

There are two types of opt-ins you can offer: the single opt-in and the confirmed opt-in (COI). With a single opt-in, the sign up is automatic when a contact enters an email address. With a COI, an email is sent to confirm the subscription, requiring a secondary action from the consumer. “We recommend COI, as it lowers your chances of having spam complaints, ensures your readers actually want to receive your email, and improves your deliverability rate,” says Ron Cates, director of digital marketing education for Constant Contact.

Once you have an established email list, the last thing you want is to get filtered into a spam folder. American companies must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. According to the Federal Communications Commission website, these are:

Identification: The email must be clearly identified as a solicitation or advertisement for products or services.

Opt-out: The email must provide easily accessible, legitimate and free ways for you to reject future messages from that sender.

Return address: The email must contain legitimate return email addresses, as well as the sender’s postal address.

“With the recent addition of laws like the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation, it is evident that consent-based marketing is extremely important in maintaining an effective marketing campaign,” Cates says. “Every campaign sent through Constant Contact has an unsubscribe button at the bottom of the email, but you should also monitor the email that you send the campaigns from, as people will email you directly and ask to be taken off your list.”

Shore says there are specific spam words that, if found in your subject line or the preheader text — the first
few lines of the email viewable under the sender and subject — of the email, could reroute your email to a spam folder. A reputable ESP can help avoid those target words and phrases, he says.

“It’s the difference between going to a party not knowing anyone and attending with the host,” Shore says. “ESPs have relationships with all the spam houses and work hard to make sure your emails will be delivered as planned. Plus, most offer tools in their system to gauge whether your email is likely to be flagged as spam.”

Periodic maintenance on your email contact list is also important to get the best results from your efforts. Bounce rates — when an email comes back as undeliverable — can have a negative impact on your email campaign success numbers, lowering its ROI.

“Remove any address with ongoing issues, as this will improve your email open rate and reduce the number of bounces,” Cates says. “Look through your bounce rates after every campaign so they don’t pile up on you.” Any ESP should have some list-maintenance tools, Shore says. You should regularly practice “good list hygiene,” he says, which means cleaning out bad emails — and eventually, the subscribers who are never opening your emails. “Why send to someone,” Shore says, “who doesn’t want to hear from you?”

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