The first thing to do when building a marketing database for use with email campaigns is to ensure you are familiar with the legal requirements so that you know you are complying with the Spam legislation. For information on the Spam Act of 2003 visit http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/cth/consol_act/sa200366/
This is especially important with regard to providing opt-out provisions in your mailing campaigns which will also help maintain the integrity of the addresses in your database.
Building and maintaining a marketing database will take time and effort but if used well can give you the edge in a competitive market place.
How do I build a marketing database?
You may already have a database of client details, especially if you have account customers. If this is the case simply asking customers for a contact email address and adding it to the records you already have is a good starting point.
Enticing customers to give up their email address can be difficult but by offering something in return such as entry in a competition, the chance to receive special offers or advice provided only to subscribers of an email newsletter are a few ways.
You can also add a subscription form to your website and promote membership to the mailing list by making special offers or providing incentives.
It is also possible to expand your list through conventional means such as post, advertising and direct customer contact if you work in a retail environment.
Who should be included?
Any current customer, potential customer or past customer is a good starting point for generating your database. Your list should only consist of authentic, legally obtained addresses of people who would reasonably expect to hear from you.
Do not include random entries made up of family, friends and acquaintances as these will just dilute the results of your mailing campaigns.
How do I use it?
There are a number of methods for generating email newsletters but ultimately it will depend on the size of your database.
- Newsletters for small lists (usually less than 50 addresses) can be sent directly from your email client, but be aware that you should follow correct email etiquette (read this blog post) and most ISP’s monitor their clients mail usage for signs of bulk mail and will block or limit accounts seemingly doing the wrong thing.
- Use a third party service like MailChimp for larger lists (over 50 addresses). Third party services are available free for low volume mailers and have scaling rates for bigger mailouts. These services also provide tools for building your newsletter, monitoring the results and ensuring you don’t fall foul of the spam filters.
How do I ensure that it works?
- Offer incentives
- Give real value for people on the list don’t just offer them the same specials that everyone can get
- Provide subscriber only information, tips or free advice
- You don’t have to provide everything yourself, sometimes it is sufficient to provide links to other material or directions on how they can find information that could be valuable to them as subscribers
- If you can become the go to authority then your mailing list will grow along with your business
- Monitor the results so that you can fine-tune future campaigns using methods that have proven successful
What shouldn’t I do?
- You should never broadcast your email newsletter or campaign to anyone who is “not” in your database or you will risk becoming branded as a spammer.
- You should follow normal email etiquette at all times.
- You should never just put a list of email addresses in the “to” field of your mail program and blast away – this is guaranteed to bring you to the attention of spam filters and ISP’s as well is making you unpopular with any legitimate clients in that list.
- Never ever purchase a database of email addresses no matter how industry specific that list promises to be. These lists are generated by professional spammers and are guaranteed to ensure you wind up on a spam blacklist in quick time.
- For the same reasons, never sell or give away your database of email addresses.
- If you do the wrong thing, even unknowingly and make it onto a spam list it can have serious repercussions for relationships with your customers, your ISP, and the authorities and can make it difficult to use any form of online marketing in the future.
Used well an email database can add a very cost effective means of marketing that will pin-point prospective buyers without the scatter gun approach of other methods.