Email marketing continues to grow in popularity as a successful tactic for local marketers. As it grows, consumer inboxes are exploding with other marketers who are fighting for top billings in the inbox, which is why having a dependable email list is essential to success.
According to our 2016 State of Local Marketing Report, 86 percent of local affiliates use email to reach their customers – up from 72 percent in 2014. Eight in ten local affiliates also report being satisfied with their email marketing, making it the fourth highest tactic on our Satisfaction scale with an index of 115.
What are local affiliates actually saying about email marketing?
"Email campaigns to our loyal customer base because they are already engaged, so campaigns generate a greater sense of belonging.”
“Email keeps in touch with prospects and customers and keeps our product line and name in the forefront of customers and prospect’s minds.”
“Email campaigns get the message out frequently.”
“Email campaigns have been very successful for us. It gets the word out faster and to more people.
So, how can you find local email marketing success? By organically growing your email list to make sure you’re only targeting a loyal customer base. To make sure your local affiliates are reaching the right audience with their email programs, we’ve gathered advice from a few of our local digital marketing experts to keep email recipient lists growing and fresh.
Editor’s Note: A previous blog post explained in detail why buying or renting email lists is a bad idea. Still not convinced? Here are five ways you can grow your email list organically.
1.) Add a link to social media accounts
Social media and email marketing should work hand-in-hand. For instance: a tweet link to a blog post with a form asking for a reader’s email address; a Facebook app that offers incentives to followers who check a permission box giving you permission to email them; an image on Instagram or Pinterest to launch contests sending people to landing pages to collect emails for a chance to win (see more like this in item #2 on our list).
Regardless of the specifics, the principal is the same: a follower who clicks a link and enters an email address is genuinely interested in what your brand has to say. They’re a loyal follower and are worth adding to the email list.
While we’re on the topic, though, it’s worth adding links to your social media accounts within your email as well. It will encourage email subscribers to follow you on social media if they don’t already. This exchange between social followers and email subscribers works best when the content you share provides value to the consumer – in the form of deals, info and/or entertainment.2.) Offer creative opt-in incentives for subscribers
Think of this as ‘the cupcake factor’. A local bakery gives away free samples for the exchange of the person’s business card. Don’t have a local bakery with tasty samples to give away? That’s OK. There’s plenty of other items to exchange, both digitally and in-person: a white paper, a coupon or a chance-to-win.
Just make sure your incentive aligns with your business. A consumer who wants a coupon for your services is most likely a future customer. Product samples or taste tests at an event or in your store promote trial of your product and can be used to collect customer information. Contests on your website tied to a national giveaway can generate a lot of interest as people sign up with their email address to win. The options are endless. And usually, these creative ways are low-cost for a local business.
3.) Make it easy to sign up
Don’t make people search for a way to give you their email address. Even if you’re encouraging people with creative opt-in incentives, the sign-up form should be front-and-center on your website, your social media accounts or in your store.
At any point, whether online or offline, when you’ve added value or given customers something for free, ask them if they want to sign up. Make it part of an existing customer touchpoint and highlight the value they’ll get. For example, think about a time you’ve gone through the checkout line at a clothing store and the cashier asks for your email after she rings you up.
Some people are more willing to give away their information. Asking doesn’t hurt and only increases the retailer’s chance of gaining that loyal fan base. Just make sure if the customer does offer his or her email that you’re providing them with valuable content (see #5).
4.) Encourage subscribers to spread the word
So, you have subscribers, but you want more. How do you get your current subscribers to become ambassadors and spread the word about your email list? Get your current fans to help. To start, include an “email to a friend” button on your email that captures where the email is being forwarded to. Once this is in place, consider a contest that rewards current subscribers and their friends to benefit from this technique. What free service or future discount can you give away to inspire sharing amongst your fan base? People trust people they know and place tremendous value in recommendations and referrals. If they get an email from a friend they’re more likely to read it and become a subscriber themselves.
5.) Share good content
Maintaining and growing your list of organic subscribers depends mostly on this piece. The truth is, unsubscribing to an email list is easy – and once they’re gone, they’re gone. It may only take one piece of dull or uninteresting content to lose a subscriber. A string of company-focused, overly promotional content with no value to the subscriber can cause you to lose a lot more.
Even for top brands, email content should be fun, interactive and relevant to subscribers. Include things like recipe guides, entertaining videos or fun social media assets. From the Subject Line to the email footer, every piece of email content should be appealing to your subscriber. Before sending, do a final review and ask yourself honestly if your customers might hit that unsubscribe button and edit with that in mind.
In summary, buying email lists will only land your emails in the spam or deleted folder. Growing a true, loyal base of subscribers and providing them relevant and interesting content can help your email marketing efforts and your business grow sustainably.
What are other creative ways for people to opt-in to emails? What has worked for you in the past? We want to know! Comment below.