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Look for list partners that fit with your audience

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Question: How can we leverage our business partnerships to help build our e-mail lists? Answer: Building lists through partnerships can be a very successful list growth tactic. It is imperative, however, to carefully evaluate a partner before exploring opportunities for e-mail acquisition efforts. Too many e-mail marketers learn this the hard way, choosing partners that don't fit their audiences and vice versa. There are two common approaches for leveraging partnerships to grow your e-mail list: third-party partner mailings and co-registration. But I wouldn't run at either opportunity blindly. Growing your list organically will always produce the most qualified audience. Third-party mailings are leveraged typically as dedicated e-mail sends to the subscriber base of a qualified partner that features some content of interest to the demographic of the partner. You would usually include an opt-in message allowing the recipient to subscribe directly to your e-mail list to continue receiving valuable information from your brand. It is important to note that your ability to communicate with a partner's list in this way will be dictated by their privacy policy and their partner messaging restrictions. Some partners may charge for such access or require the same level of access to your subscriber base. Co-registration allows for you to include an opt-in to your e-mail program when a person is subscribing to the partner's. While the opt-in is explicit, the actual act of subscribing may be quickly forgotten depending on whether the box is pre-checked or not. Another challenge is that since the subscription did not come from your site, there may be some delay in getting the data to you—which could prevent you from sending a timely welcome message directly from your brand. Co-registration can be a very successful acquisition method if partners are carefully chosen, but remain mindful of the data challenges that may be associated with this method of acquisition. Leveraging partners can be a safe way to add new addresses to your promotional e-mail programs. Just choose the right partner with the right audience, build the right strategy first and then let it take its course. Originally published Sept. 3, 2009 Question: What are the best practices around adding business contacts to your e-mail list that you have acquired from trade shows or other normal business activity? Answer: Trade shows, networking events and casual interactions with business prospects are great ways to grow your e-mail program. However, you shouldn't haphazardly add people you meet at these various functions to your e-mail list. To best ensure that you are “on-boarding” recipients who actually want to receive e-mail communications, try one of these two approaches. First there is the opt-out approach. This is the approach that most marketers take today. E-mail addresses from newly collected business cards are simply added to the e-mail list. The mindset here is that you have talked with the individual so you have some sort of “pre-existing business relationship,” which is perceived as an expressed interest in receiving e-mail. That is not always an accurate assumption. The other option is to proceed with an opt-in approach: You only add subscribers to your e-mail program that have actually asked to receive it. Your goal should be quality not just quantity. Your first communication following the trade show or event should be an actual invitation to join your e-mail program. Regardless of your choice, here are a few things to note: Be proactive. At the point you or your sales team collect the card or contact detail, tell the individual to expect an e-mail. Be timely. Don't wait more than a week following the event to reach out. Be transparent. Remind the recipient of the encounter or where you met. Be detailed. Include information regarding the frequency and types of message(s) they will receive. Be obvious. Include the welcome message in the actual e-mail communication they will be receiving. This gives the recipient a specific example of the type of messaging they can expect. If that isn't possible, include a link to the message sample. Be flexible. Not everyone is going to want to receive your e-mail. Allow easy access to unsubscribe links—or, in the case of opt-in requests; be clear that no further action is required to not receive e-mail. GO BACK to the Email Marketer Insight Guide 2009 Kara Trivunovic is senior director of strategic services at StrongMail Systems (www.strongmail.com), a provider of e-mail marketing solutions. Originally published April 9, 2009
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