E-mail marketing secrets & lies: Building your list

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Are you taking the right steps to grow your e-mail marketing list? “E-Mail Marketer Insight” spoke to Loren McDonald, VP-marketing at EmailLabs, to find out what tactics marketers can use to improve their efforts. McDonald provided two little-known facts—one secret and one lie—that you can use to help build your own list.

Secret: Your Web site is your best growth opportunity.

Companies aren’t taking full advantage of their Web sites, McDonald said. Unless you’ve got a visible sign-up link on every page, you’re missing out on possible prospects. “The No. 1 mistake people make is that they don’t actively promote their e-mail newsletter on their Web site,” he said.

McDonald said he recently consulted with a company that promotes its newsletter on its Web site, but the link is on the left side of the page and below the fold. Also, the sign-up link is only on the company’s home page, so with 80% of the company’s traffic coming from search engines, a big chunk of visitors enter deeper into the site and miss the sign-up opportunity altogether. “Cross-promote your newsletter on every page, and make sure the link is visible,” he said.

Lie: Sign-up forms should collect plenty of detail.

You’ve seen it before: a sign-up page that asks for every piece of identifying information just short of your pants size and social security number in an effort to create personalized and targeted messages. While the theory behind this might be correct, it can alienate your potential readers and result in abandoned sign-ups.

A better strategy, McDonald said, is capturing just the person’s name and e-mail address on the main sign-up and directing prospects to a secondary—and optional—page that lets you drill down further. The second sign-up page can also be used to cross-sell any additional newsletters you might have, he said.

“Let them sign up for the newsletter they are most interested in and then come back later and say, ‘We also offer these seven newsletters,’ “ McDonald said. “Either way, don’t ask for information that you’re not going to use. Make sure you know what your goal as a marketing person is. Don’t just throw in all the questions that your salesperson wants answered.”

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