Is Your Email List Worthless?

No Sale

No Sale (Photo credit: Steve Snodgrass)

Some people think that email is a dinosaur. A leftover from the Pleistocene era before Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. You know, 5 or 6 years ago. It’s dead, they say. You can’t make any money from it.

The truth is far different.

An email list can be one of your company’s biggest assets.  Imagine, a large built-in audience of people who really want to hear from you, and trust you with their time and email addresses.

Or, it can be a worthless compilation of names, the wrong audience, or people who don’t want to buy anything (and never will).

How do you tell the difference? And how do you know exactly what a list is (and isn’t).

How to Spot a Bad Email List

  • A bunch of names you scraped from website email and contact pages.

First of all, if it says “info@___” or “service@___” it’s likely to be a low-level person with no authority to buy from you.

Secondly, they didn’t ask you to contact them with your offers. Those addresses are there to help their customers (or potential customers), not to field sales pitches.

Don’t start your relationship off on the wrong foot!

  • Names on business cards you’ve collected from networking events and speaking engagements.

Conversations with real people are great. So is exchanging cards. Follow up when you get them. Do it a year later, and those people will think you’re spamming them (not helping them).

It’s technically legal under CAN-SPAM to do either of these things.  CAN-SPAM isn’t opt-in, it’s opt-out (more about CAN-SPAM rules here). It’s not a good idea though. Do it too often, and your ESP (email service provider, like MailChimp or AWeber) will think you’re a spammer too; and they may threaten to suspend your account.

  • A bunch of names that you bought (and now “own”); particularly if they were really, really cheap (such as $100 for 10,000 names), think services such as SalesGenie.

None of those people asked to be on those lists. Use them, and you’ll get labelled a spammer. There are some email lists available for rent (one-time use), but they’re very expensive ($300 for 1,000 names). If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

How to spot a Good Email List

  • People you spoke to personally, who expressly asked to be on your list (offer them a free bribe).
  • People who signed up directly from your website, and thereby gave you permission to continue to contact them
  • Your existing customers and prospects: people you already have a relationship with
  • Attendees at your webinars.

Make sure you ask the webinar attendees for permission to continue to contact them. Offer something in return (a recording, a set of slides, or a white paper).

  • Subscribers to your auto-responders. They’ve said they want to hear from you (repeatedly).

Inboxes are crowded, and people are pressed for time.  You want to build a relationship. Get them to know you, like you, and trust you.  Once those people are on your list, nurture them (don’t spam them with offers for expensive products right away).  You wouldn’t ask someone you just met to marry you, would you?

P.S., All of this can be a lot to digest. If you want to have a quick conversation about this, email me here (no charge).

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