Building a Productive Email Marketing List

With worldwide email users expected to reach 2.9 billion by the end of 2019, there’s little wonder that the channel remains an essential tool for businesses. In fact, a recent census by Econsultancy found that 74% of marketers believe that email will still be one of the highest platforms for delivering return on investment in five years time – and we strongly agree. Why? Because reports indicate that some companies make an average 20% of their total revenue from email marketing alone, with research by See Why finding that 67.7% of conversions can be attributable to it.

Email marketing is an incredibly effective form of digital marketing. It offers you fantastic reach, drives traffic to your website, generates positive brand awareness, and acts as a continued touchpoint with loyal customers and prospects. In layman’s terms, email rocks at achieving solid results that contribute significantly to your bottom line – when used correctly.

From design tips for maximum conversions, to crafting the perfect call-to-action and subject line methods for higher open rates, our previous blog posts have covered a wealth of topics related to channel. But now, it’s time for us to go back to basics.

Fact one: you can’t send out emails if you don’t have anybody to send them to. Fact two: you’ll only succeed with email if you deliver the right content to the right people. Thus building a list of valuable email marketing subscribers is a priority. It takes time, but setting off with the right idea in mind is crucial.

To Buy or Not to Buy

Simple – don’t buy. Purchasing or renting a database results in sending content to irrelevant contacts who are more likely to mark your email as spam, without even opening or engaging with it.

However, many organisations fail to recognise that this is the case, resulting in their email campaigns doing more harm than good. Here at East, we place the utmost importance on helping you to develop your own targeted email marketing database. By building an opt-in list of leads and prospects for your campaign, you can nurture the interest that somebody has already expressed in your products or services.

With 77% of consumers actually preferring to receive permission based marketing communications, it is key to engage them with relevant content in a timely and non-invasive way. Always, always, always get permission from people before adding them to your email marketing database.

Some companies make an average 20% of their total revenue from email marketing alone

Every Point of Contact is an Opportunity

Essentially, every point of contact with a prospect or current customer, is an opportunity for you to acquire their data. Yet almost half of retailers don’t even collect email addresses via social media or in store.

Email gives you the chance to create a one-to-one experience for your target audience – in the comfort of their private, personal inbox. Current and future trends for the platform point towards one quality: personalisation. Therefore knowing a few core details about your subscribers is key. Gathering information such as name, age, birth date, hobbies and interests, will help you to identify the ways in which you can further personalise your email marketing communications.

Prompting Sign Ups

Make use of every channel in your marketing program to collect customer contact details. Whether an offline point of sale, at your online checkout, through a simple newsletter sign up form on your website, or calls to action on your social media profiles, prompt people to share their email addresses with you.

Incentivising the sign up process will work wonders, especially if you can offer soon-to-be subscribers something of value in return. Consider offering a coupon, discount code or white paper for those who sign up. Run online competitions in which users can subscribe to your mailing list as part of the entry process, or set up social media ads to prompt opt-ins (Facebook and Twitter’s lead generation formats are particularly effective).

Consider offering a coupon, discount code or white paper for those who sign up

Simply raising awareness of the fact that you’re now broadcasting regular newsletters and exclusive email content, will encourage many to join your database out of curiosity and for sake of ease. Consumers have less spare time now more than ever to browse the internet, so having the information they desire sent directly to them, as opposed to having to hunt for it online, is a win-win.

Dig Into Your Data

Relevant content is key to continued email marketing engagement. In addition to the above details, gathering the right combination of data – from behavioural to purchase intent information and shopping patterns – will help you to develop strategic messages that can be sent to the right people, at the right time. When you fully understand your customers – what they like, value and engage with – you can connect with them via email in a more meaningful way.

Getting to grips with how they interact with your messages will take time, so testing, monitoring and adapting your strategy is paramount. You then have the knowledge (and power) to segment your lists according to their specific subscriber data and history – a tactic that we take a closer look at in our blog post here.

Give Subscribers the Freedom to Opt-Out

Finally, it’s of no use sending emails to a person that isn’t interested in your company, so you shouldn’t force everyone to continue receiving them. In all of your email communications, you must include an easy-to-recognise option for subscribers to opt-out and unsubscribe.

Include an easy-to-recognise option for subscribers to opt-out and unsubscribe

Additionally, you should review the activity of your email marketing database often and identify contacts who have been dormant for quite some time. Segment these into a separate list and attempt to reignite their interest with a sophisticated re-engagement campaign – a strategy that we explore further here. Once you’ve tried all attempts to draw them back in but to no avail, it may be best to separate them from your main broadcast list altogether. However heartbreaking it is to lose them, sometimes parting ways is the best option – otherwise your open and click-through rates will suffer.

In short, when it comes to building a productive email marketing database, quality trumps quantity. A targeted, engaged list of contacts acquired efficiently and ethically will always win over a monster database of dormant, disinterested subscribers. The former will empower you as a business and allow you to send impactful email marketing campaigns that use personalisation and segmentation to your company’s advantage.

If this is a goal that you are looking to achieve for your brand, feel free to get in touch with us. We’d love to discuss how we could help take your email marketing strategy to the next level.


Mark Warman - Founder & Digital Consultant Administrator

With a background in design, technology and user experience, I help businesses adapt. Adapt to the changing needs and expectations of their digital audiences.