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The Marketing Unleashed Podcast – Should companies focus their time and energy on building email lists?

Joel: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Marketing Unleashed podcast. I’m your host Joel and I’m here with Nathan. And we’re going to talk about email marketing lists. Now, Nathan, what we’re going to focus on is should companies focus their time and energy on building email lists? And whenever we talk about this, I kind of want to talk about is email still effective? Is that still an effective marketing tool in 2019? What are some advantages? And what do you really need to start an email marketing list, to start building it? So, let’s just tackle the first one. Is email marketing still effective?

Nathan: I would say most sources say that email marketing is not just effective, it may be one of the most effective tools for marketing out there. According to the recent study by Adobe, they said for every dollar spent on creating an email marketing list, there’s a $40 ROI over time that that list generates. And that’s almost double what they get from SEO, from mobile ads, banner ads, social marketing ads. Social marketing comes close in terms of email marketing. And I would say at some point, social marketing may wind up overtaking email marketing. But as of right now, email marketing is still what I would consider the king of online marketing.

Joel: Yeah. And I would totally agree with you. I would say there is a caveat to that though. Email marketing is very effective as long as the message and the frequency are done correctly. And I mean that by you have to offer recipients useful information. If they don’t care about what you’re sending them then they’re not going to open it. Or even if they do open it, they’re going to be immediately turned off by it and they’ll never open another email from you again because they’re just going to say, “Oh, it’s just more nonsense that I don’t need.”

Nathan: Right. And I think a lot of email marketing is timing. it depends on the product or service that you’re trying to promote. But a good example would be we’re planning a party and that party is a once-a-year kind of thing. And I got an email this morning from a food service that was promoting their service. Now I may get one of those emails from them every two or three days and I just dump those in the trash. But because of the timing and we’re planning something now, that email was timely. It came in with the information I just so happen to be thinking about and so I acted on it. So a lot of times you’re going to fail a lot more than you’re going to succeed with your email marketing campaign. But all it takes is that one perfectly timed email to convert a sale. And that’s what happened with this email marketing campaign that I just got this morning.
So a lot of it comes down to timing. And that’s like any other kind of marketing. If you’re not looking for a product or service, someone may market you and kind of convince you, yeah, now’s the time. But for the most part, if you’re not interested already, not thinking about it, it doesn’t really matter what the marketing campaign is doing, whether it’s social media or display advertising or anything else. If you’re not ready for it, then that campaign’s not going to have as much of an effect on you.

Joel: Okay. So, let’s talk a little bit more about the timing here. If you’re running email campaigns daily and you’re the food service provider like pretty much like you described. I mean, is that as effective as maybe sending out a weekly, biweekly, or even just monthly?

Nathan: A lot of that depends on the sort of the services that you offer and the clients that you’re going after. Now, say you’re a high-end sort of food service company that does big events, hundreds of people. Emailing event coordinators every day is probably going to be a little ineffective just because they’re not planning these matter of events constantly. So you might be able to get away with marketing them maybe once a week or even once every couple of weeks. But if you’re selling something that’s a lot smaller, say maybe you’re just a food service company that’s selling, that has a franchise restaurant or something and you’re trying to get people to come in. Well, those people eat out once or twice a week. So, in order to catch them at the right time, it might be valuable to email those people two, three times a week just to make sure that you’re getting them whenever they’re ready to come into your store.
Another thing is we use timing so we look at purchases and when people are buying these services when we’re coming up with marketing campaigns. That way we know, say for example, people eat out at restaurants more often Friday, Saturday, Sunday. So if you’re wanting to catch people before they go out to dinner on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, maybe an email timed about two or three o’clock in the afternoon on a Friday or Saturday might be a good a good time to send out that email because they are going to start thinking about it and you just put it in their mind. Even if they don’t even read the whole email, it might just be that they see that come across their inbox and just the title, Come To Our Restaurant Great Promotion This Week. That might be enough to get them to think about coming in.

Joel: Right. I think a lot of where email marketing goes wrong is that the marketer doesn’t understand the recipient enough, getting away from the restaurant, more in a retail environment. Let’s say that you’re Target that’s out there that sells clothes or some type of product that’s mostly geared toward different individuals. If you’re sending me emails that are promoting, I don’t know, women’s dresses, it doesn’t work. And I think that that happens a lot with a lot of these brands. They send out emails just thinking they can blanket their entire customer base and not really understand who’s receiving the email.

Nathan: That’s right. The first thing that we always tell people when they’re starting a new email list, the very first thing that you need to do is figure out your audience. Who are the people that you’re going to be emailing? What are their interests? As much detail as you can come up with about your audience. That will not only help you create your email list by going out and finding the people that you need to subscribe but it will also help you market them once you have the list built. So you know what those people are looking for to help you with timing and other issues.
Joel: Yup, absolutely. All right, so let’s talk about some of the advantages of having an email list and starting email campaigns. I would start off by the obvious. I mean, you can promote new product sales or just advertise something that recipients want.

Nathan: Right. Yeah, I think a big part of having an email list is as being able to connect with your customers on a regular basis. So, it depends on the customer, but we don’t always directly email market for a sale. Sometimes it’s informational. Sometimes depending on the product or service that you have, you just need to keep your customers informed. For example, maybe something in your industry’s changing, there’s a new certification that a distributor needs to have in order to install the product that you offer. Just having that list available and being able to let those people know that they need to sort of get ready for what’s coming can really be helpful for your customers and let them know where they need to devote their time. So sometimes these email marketing campaigns aren’t just about a sale, they’re about keeping your customers informed.

Joel: Right. Well, I mean not every email should do this but don’t forget brands can also send out emails and ask for feedback. Send out an email to a large list of customers and say, “Hey, we want to know what you think about our product or service.” Or whatever you’re curious about. You may be surprised by the response rate that you receive back.

Nathan: Absolutely. Surveys are a big part of our email marketing campaigns. We send out surveys all the time asking not only are you happy with purchases that you’ve already made but maybe we need to learn more about our customers. So we want more information about, “Where’s your business heading? Where are you projecting sales for this year? Where are areas that you need more support? So that we can maybe develop new products and services to help support you.” A lot of times, we use surveys to get our customers to give us more information about where they think business is headed.
Joel: Yeah. And also build that brand loyalty. Through storytelling, you can really connect your customer with your brand and make that bond even stronger. I know there are many brands that will send out emails talking about stories of their employees or maybe it’s an organization that they help support. Just some way to kind of build a stronger connection between themselves and the customer.

Nathan: Absolutely. Yeah, you have to keep a running conversation. Whenever I talk to people about marketing, I like to tell them… You’re not just trying to make a sale with every call. You’re trying to build a relationship. You’re trying to work with people. It’s not always about trying to get that next sale. It’s sometimes about just keeping the customer informed, letting them know, letting them feel comfortable talking with you. Sometimes customers don’t even know services that you offer. We’ve had instances where people didn’t even realize we did certain activities. And because we used a marketing campaign letting people know, “Hey, we also offer this service.” That opened up new avenues of business for an existing client for us.

Joel: Yup. Yeah, definitely. All right, so what do people need to get started? If they’re listening and they say, “Well, I don’t have an email list.” Or “I have a list of current customers but I’d like to expand my list.” What are the tools? And you don’t have to go into great detail because we’ll talk about this in later episodes but just kind of give us a rundown of you need this, this, and this really just to get started.

Nathan: Well, the main two pieces that you need to have are a website, a landing page. There’s some options that you could get started with that fairly quickly. And then you also need an email service. Something like Mailchimp, which is one that we commonly use that allows you to collect the list and then turn around and use that list to email your customers.
So really, those two pieces are enough. We always start the process, I mentioned earlier, with trying to figure out who your audience is. So, while you were developing a website so that you could collect these addresses and you’re getting a relationship started with an email marketing group like Mailchimp, our advice is to start building an audience profile so that you can see who you need to contact to build your list.
One thing to mention is the CAN-SPAM Act is a serious piece of legislation that dictates how you can email people. People have to explicitly opt in to your email lists. You can’t just take a list of all the people you’ve ever done business with and dump them into a marketing campaign and hope for the best. That can be problematic. You can have legal issues with regard to sending spam to people that haven’t requested it. People need to opt in to your list.
So that’s an important thing to remember. Don’t just dump every email address you’ve ever gotten into your marketing campaign. Start fresh with a blank list and then allow people to subscribe and add themselves. If you have a list of existing customers, what we would recommend there is email them once and say, “Hey, we’re offering more information. We’re building this newsletter. We’re going to do a survey.” Something like that. And just email them that single time and then get them to come in and subscribe to your list. So what you do is you email that list. You send them a link to the signup page that you’re going to build on your website. And then once they have opted in, now you’re okay to market them and continue to use them in your list.

Joel: Right. And one thing that-

Nathan: So really, those are the pieces you need.

Joel: Okay, yeah. And one thing I’d like to add is if you’re a retail business, don’t forget about the point of sale. When somebody comes in and buy something, don’t be afraid to ask them for their email. And then I would put them on that onetime email send to officially opt in. And so that way you’re getting a digital confirmation from them as well. So you think it’s safe to send that one time email to basically just a digital confirmation, right?
Nathan: Yes. And the reason that that’s okay is because there’s rules in the CAN-SPAM Act that allow you to email and market to people who have used your service in the past. It’s not exactly a black and white issue. There’s a little gray area here but I think of it as a courtesy. We don’t want to annoy people. We want to engage people. And so we will send that one email and ask them to join the list. If they turn us down, then we don’t bother them again. And that’s just a preference.
You could potentially email existing customers more often but that you run the chance of taking existing customers and driving them away by doing that. So, we recommend just using the onetime list and then if they opt in, then you can continue to market them. If they don’t, then you let those customers be.
Joel: All right. So let’s go ahead and just kind of summarize this whole discussion here. Is email marketing still effective? The statistics show us that yes, it is. Correct?

Nathan: Yes. It’s the most effective in terms of ROI. It’s the most effective, even better than social media, even better than content marketing. It’s still one of the most effective marketing techniques.

Joel: Okay. And when you do send emails, make sure that number one, you’re sending them to recipients that would enjoy receiving them. The information is useful or interesting to them. And if you don’t have anything useful or interesting to say once a day or once a week, don’t be afraid to send them biweekly or monthly.

Nathan: Right.

Joel: And then, some advantages, obviously, you can promote new products. You can provide information. You can ask for feedback. And how would you get started? Well, you basically need landing pages, website, opt-in forms, and you can find all that through email services like Mailchimp, right?

Nathan: That’s right.

Joel: All right, cool. All right, Nathan. Well, thank you for joining me on this discussion.

Nathan: Thanks a lot, Joel.

Joel: All right, thanks. And we’ll be right back with another installment of Commercial Recall and this week’s Can’t Let It Go.