Carts, Horses, and Building an Email Marketing List

The Cart Before the Horse

Image by emilio labrador via Flickr

Anthony on LinkedIn needed some email marketing tips.

He wanted to use email lists to figure out his target market.  Anthony figured that whoever responded would be a good prospect for his product.  Once he got some those answers, he could then see some patterns (get demographics) and figure out how to market to this audience.

Is this the right way to build an email list?

Anthony has some good ideas.  He’s right that demographics are important.  However, he has his email marketing plan in the wrong order.

He wants to figure out demographics and build a strategy based on who responds to his offer.  That’s backwards. He’s putting the cart first.  The first thing he needs to do isn’t to start marketing.

Audience comes first

The first step in building an email list is to choose your audience. The audience comes first.  Then the marketing strategy.

For instance, if your target market is Spanish-speaking adults who like music, then you know to make deals, buy advertising, etc. with Sabado Gigante (a Spanish-language music and variety show) and similar outlets.

If English-speaking teens are also showing interest, then research the teenage market.   Figure out where they hang out, what they like, and go after them. If you get signups, it’s right. If not, it’s no good and you adjust.

Strategy is second

Once you’ve chosen your audience, you then have to figure out where to reach them.

If your market is on Facebook, hang out on Facebook. If they are on Tumblr, post there.

Interact, ask questions and follow other people too.

Try posting a survey and asking questions about what people want from the sort of product you sell. Find out what’s lacking in your competitors’ offerings.  Is there something there you can take advantage of?  Or, try running a contest (make sure the prize is something they want).  Use the contest or the survey to get signups for your your own email list.

Once you have enough signups, you can get more demographic data and adjust your marketing accordingly.

Horse.  Then cart.  Then driver.

You can’t talk to your audience if you don’t know who it is.  Heck, if you’re marketing in Spanish to people who only speak English, you’re literally not speaking the right language!