The Importance of Customer Email Lists
I have been giving this post some thought for a while now. I wanted to approach this in just the right way to emphasize exactly why customer lists are so important. I took a hard look at our How To Gurus sales and at the different emails that I receive every day and I kept track of what was happening. Here is what I discovered.
Most companies don't use their customer lists very well. I am sure this is because they are afraid of creating "SPAM" and being barred from sending out emails in the future. For any honest company this should not be a concern and there are lots of things you can do to safeguard your email campaigns. Most companies that I deal with send out almost no emails. This I just don't understand.
Looking at the "Big" companies, I see a totally different approach. Disney for instance sends me at least 1 email a day, sometimes 2-3. Staples sends out almost 1 email a day. Office Depot sends out at least 1-2 per week. A local sporting goods store that I frequent sends out 2 emails per week. I have more examples, but basically the companies that seem to be doing well also send out a lot of email.
Why would a company as big as Disney feel the need to send out so much email? Aren't they making enough money as it is? Let's take How To Gurus as an example of successful email campaigns. We send out at least 1 email each week, sometimes we send out more depending on what we currently have on sale and what new products we have to introduce to our customer base. But why send out so much email? Because it works. Admittedly we have a good sized customer list, but we make approximately 50% of our income from our emails. Everything else is the other 50%. We sell on our web site, on eBay, on Amazon, on several different partner sites, etc. and all of that, with all the work it requires, brings in only 50% of our income. As stated before, the rest comes from our email campaigns. Those take just minutes to set up and send.
As far as marketing goes, emails are the easiest, least expensive, fastest, and most successful promotion tool we use. We sell through all of the other venues for 2 reasons, one of course is to make the sale, but the other, and equally important reason is to add to our email list. If you look at our averages then, for every new sale we make through the usual channels we average one more sale through our email list. So maintaining a viable email list effectively doubles our sales, with very little work.
Now about that Spam concern. It really comes down to a couple of issues. First, is your list segmented into interest areas, or niches? This is very important because it allows you to target your email subjects. Second, are you making sure that you are sending the right emails to the right lists? If you are paying attention to both of these issues you will have very few spam reports because you will be sending people emails that they are interested in receiving.
We have several different lists at How To Gurus and we try to target our emails specifically at the topics that interest our different lists. That is the main reason I created this new list that you are following. I wanted to discuss and send out more information on Internet Marketing and Money Making techniques and opportunities, but I didn't have a list that really focused on that. So, new list.
So what are the steps involved in List Creation, List Building, and List Maintenance?
You first need somewhere to keep your list. We use both Constant Contact and AWeber for different lists depending on our needs. Our main How To Gurus list is over at Constant Contact, it is easy to use and we don't need any auto responders for that list. All How To Gurus emails are sent out as new Broadcasts to our list. AWeber or GetResponse are our preferred email list services for lists that need an auto responder function, but there are several others that will work just as well.
For instance you could run a list through AWeber specifically for the auto responder. I would want to make sure that as each new list subscriber comes onto the list they will start at email 1 and get the rest of the emails in the proper sequence. As I come across timely topics or valuable software, products, or services that I feel would be useful to the list I can send out separate broadcast emails about those without interrupting the flow of the scheduled emails.
Once you have the system set in place to collect emails, usually a form on a web site or blog run through a service like Constant Contact, GetResponse, or AWeber, then you need to build your list, and build the list legally. This is an important aspect, you need to understand the Can Spam act and laws and make sure that you stay in the clear. Basically it is pretty simple, to send someone a commercial email you need to have a prior commercial relationship with them, or they have asked to be on your list.
If someone buys a product from you, that creates a prior commercial relationship and it allows you to send emails to those people who have purchased products from you. The other main way to get email addresses is to have someone request information from you or request to be on your mailing list. Pretty straight forward. Everyone on this email list requested to be on the list through a web form. Some of the forms were included on thank you pages for product purchases and other forms are accessed through advertising on the internet. This particular list is a "double optin" list, in other words you needed to first sign-up through the form, then you needed to confirm your sign-up through an email confirmation. This takes care of any automated programs filling out forms on the internet, or of people spamming our forms with other peoples email addresses.
I will be discussing lots of techniques for finding more customers and more sign-ups in a future post. The final area to pay attention to is list maintenance. You need to keep your list clean, but not too clean. What I mean is that you should continually remove any bad, non-existent, blocked, or other wise problem email addresses from your list. But don't be too eager to remove non-responsive email addresses.
At How To Gurus we usually get about a 10% open rate on any one email send, which is pretty good, and about 10-20% of those will make a purchase. Those are actually very good figures for a list, but our lists are tightly focused. But over the course of a year over 50-60% of our list will open at least one of our emails that year. So even though we only have a 10% average open rate per email, we have a yearly 50-60% open rate for our entire list. And that portion changes each year. Over a two year average the open rate is higher. So just because someone isn't opening your current emails is not a reason to clean them off of your list. They may open an email in the next month or two and make a purchase.
Finally, take a look at the requirements of your email service in regards to spam complaints. Most services will allow you 1 spam report per 1000 emails sent, that is just kind of the base number that you will get. We get 1-2 spam reports per email send, but since we send out thousands of emails that rate does not affect us. All services will automatically remove anyone from your list who posts a spam report, so they will not be a problem in the future.
So, here is my advice: make sure you create and maintain an email client list. And make sure that you send emails to that list, it does you no good otherwise and it can be a major source of income.
Next time I will be reviewing some products that I have found useful for my business, and others that are good sellers and would make good affiliate offers.
I will then get back to list building (same thing as finding customers) and discuss some specific ways to find new customers and add them to your list. The reason I keep on about lists is that it is much easier to add someone to your list than it is to sell them a product. And once they are on your list it is much easier to sell them products. Even though we are constantly advertising our products for direct sales, we pay just as much attention to adding new customers to our list.
Till next time, good success: