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9 tips for building an effective email marketing list

Jennifer Lonoff Schiff | Sept. 12, 2014
When it comes to building an email marketing list, there is no secret formula. But there are steps you can take to increase your opt-in rates and decrease the number of Unsubscribes. What are those steps? Dozens of email marketing pros share their top nine tips for how to build a successful email marketing list.

4. Let people know what to expect. "Explain the value [of signing up for your emails]," advises Andy Shore, content & social networking manager, Benchmark Email, a provider of email marketing services. "Let your subscribers know what they're in for. Whether it be deals and promotions or information and education, people are more likely to sign up when they know what to expect."

5. Deliver relevant, customized content — with a clear, but brief, subject line. "While this may seem obvious, it's more important than ever to deliver content that is tailored to each customer's interests and behavior," says Alyssa Nahatis, director of Deliverability for Adobe Campaign, a provider of marketing campaign solutions. "The digital marketing tools out there today give marketers the ability to customize content with real-time updates for each customer, increasing customer's confidence and trust with the company," she says.

"Don't treat every customer as a nameless, faceless nobody," adds Len Shneyder, director of industry relations at Message Systems, which provides email infrastructure software. To find out what your customers are interested in, "ask them a few questions at the point of sign up to better optimize promotions and offers."

"Sending individualized (including the person's name in the emails) and custom emails based on an individual customer's actions on your website (which you can track by knowing what content they downloaded and what website pages they visited) can help you yield higher email open and click-through rates," says Leah Pope, vice president of marketing, Synthesio, a social intelligence company. Remember, "Nobody wants to receive information that they don't care about," she says. "If you [repeatedly] send [people] something that isn't applicable to them, they will likely unsubscribe or never open any of your emails again."

6. Equally important is to have a strong — but brief — subject line. "For subject lines, it's best to tease the content and keep it very short," says Joe LeKostaj, email marketing director, Sprout Social, a social media management and engagement platform. "Depending on your audience, up to 60 percent of opens happen on mobile, and iPhone mail [for example] only displays up to 38 characters in the subject."

Indeed, according to research conducted by market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey, some 64 percent of people open an email based on the subject line alone. While according to marketing firm Convince & Convert, 69 percent of people will mark your email as spam if the subject line looks like, well, spam.

7. Humanize your messaging. "Far too many company emails are written like a broadcast message or press release," says Volpe. "Know who humans want to read emails from? Other humans. To that end, write copy that is relatable, approachable and relevant to your audience versus promotional language that sounds impersonal," he advises. "Your audience will thank you."


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