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Sending marketing emails is an easy and cost-effective way of keeping clients in the loop and getting your business message out there. But there are certain things everyone should be aware of to maximize the effects of their campaign and prevent their messages from being perceived as spam. The following are three strategies to build better email lists:

In the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, the FTC outlines the do’s and don’ts of email marketing with regards to spam. Essentially, if an individual has not opted-in to receive marketing emails from your company, your message is considered spam. All communications must be additionally identified as a commercial message, and every email must contain a link for recipients to unsubscribe from the list. Based on these laws, it clearly doesn’t pay to purchase a list somewhere; it’s better to cultivate your own. But how should you do it?

If just having a link on your website hasn’t gotten you the number of subscribers you were hoping for, there are other courses of action to take.

For new customers or those who have recently asked for information, you can send out a one-time “invitation mail” encouraging them to sign up for your newsletter in order to receive discounts and other pertinent information about your company.

You can also supplement a newsletter by keeping a corporate blog. The blog will allow users to see that you can produce interesting content and not just clog their inboxes with sales pitches, which will make them more inclined to sign up for your newsletter. Even if they don’t make the conversion to your email list, you’re still providing a cost-effective way to get additional information to customers and potential clients– a way that can be indexed by search engines to bring in more potential business.

Another effective channel for building permission based email lists is through outbound telemarketing. At first glance, this approach can seem like a more expensive method to build the list. However, when executed effectively, this approach should generate qualified leads of which a certain percentage (10%-25% or more) can convert to sales, thus paying for the email list building portion of the campaign. Additionally, well executed telemarketing calls will begin to build relationships with future customers.

The bottom line for marketing online is to be unobtrusive and relevant. If you’re able to accomplish these necessities through an email marketing campaign, then great! But don’t sacrifice your company’s reputation and potential relationships for the sake of building a list. There are other ways to leverage the Internet to engage clients and prospects without being labeled a spammer.