While email marketing may be considered old-fashioned by some, it is still an important way for businesses to engage with existing and new customers, generate leads, and achieve other tangible benefits. 

This point is backed up by eMarketer, which said that email marketing was the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the US in 2014. Furthermore, HubSpot.com has reported that over 80% of users read email on mobile devices.

Creating an email marketing database should be about quality, not quantity.  Here are some tips about building a permission-based email marketing database:

Use email addresses from those who ‘opt in’

That means individuals who have voluntarily given you their email addresses. Open rates on your emails and clickthrough rates to content will be far higher if you have ‘opt in’ email database

Consider implementing a ‘double opt-in’

This means that users confirm their email details twice before being added to an email list. Double opt-in is considered best practice

Offer premium content

If you are a B2B business, then consider offering a free white paper or report that is valued by customers, potential customers or others you are targeting. They are more likely to ‘opt in’ to your email marketing if they receive something of value in exchange

Encourage users to forward and share emails

A simple “forward to a friend” message on your email newsletter or “subscribe” messages on your social media accounts can help build your email marketing list

Collect email addresses at events

Constantly look out for opportunities to build your email marketing list. If you are at a trade show or at an event set out, not only to make new connections, but to grow the number of email contacts you have. Collect business cards and get permission to add them to your email list

Run competitions in-store or on social media

If you have a consumer business, run a competition in your store, online or on Facebook. Make it clear in the terms and conditions for the competition that by entering the competition, consumers are ‘opting in’ to your emails

Consider segmenting your lists

This means dividing your email list into sub-groups, such as customers and non-customers, who would get different type of email content tailored to their needs and interests

Prominently promote email sign-ups online

Make it easy for customers and others to sign up to your newsletter on your website. Promote your newsletter prominently on your home page and on key landing pages on your website

Don’t buy email lists

This may seem like an easy option but is fraught with problems. While the numbers of emails you can send may expand, buying a list does not mean that you reach more of your targeted customers. It is difficult to validate the quality of such lists. There are many risks, including your emails being blocked because they are considered to be spam

Don’t spam

Your business and personal reputation will be damaged if you send spam to customers, potential customers or other contacts

Be compliant

Ensure your email marketing campaigns comply with data protection requirements. Give users the opportunity to unsubscribe. Read the ThinkBusiness.ie data protection guide to learn more about data protection rules.