Generating high-quality leads has been the top B2B marketing challenge for a long time, and 2014 probably won’t be any exception. One way to meet your lead gen numbers is use email more effectively. The very first thing to consider is your list. How do you grow it, with the right names?
There are three basic things to do: Understand who you want on your lists; make sure that your website is pulling traffic; make an offer compelling enough that (the right people) will trade their contact information with you. Let’s break that down into steps.
1. Establish a list-building target
Building an email list is a numbers game. Establish a monthly target for the number of emails you’d like to collect each month, and increase this number each month.
2. Identify your target prospect
Do you know who your best customers are, and how to profile others like them? Make sure to develop personas your can target, so you can focus your list-building efforts on the types of prospects that will deliver the conversion rates you need to hit your lead generation and revenue targets.
3. Specify the data you need to collect
The data you collect depends on your business and target market. Some marketers collect only a small amount of information, like the person’s name and email address. Others collect additional information such as company name and title. The more information you ask for, the fewer people will fill the form out, but those people will be more motivated and better prospects. You might balance the amount of data you ask for with the value of the offer. remember too that you can use progressive profiling, in which you serve a prospect subsequent forms that ask for more information, so you build a more complete picture of the prospect over time.
4. Decide where you’ll store your data
You don’t need to be a database expert to manage your email list. Just make sure that the technology you use is capable of storing the data you collect, and will allow you to view the data by different factors and segment it into smaller lists according to some factor (without changing the master list).
5. Leverage existing email addresses
If you’re an established business, you probably have some prospect and customer email addresses that aren’t in your mail-to lists. These may exist in a CRM system or a CSV file somewhere. In many cases, you can use these email addresses to seed your email database, or ask for referrals.
People won’t give you their email address without a reason; you need to offer them something in return. The most common offer is access to your newsletter. Other common offer types include white papers and online events. If you’re selling a product, you can offer follow-up support or warranty information. As the MarketingSherpa chart notes, premium content (such as a white paper or eBook) is the number one most productive offer.
7. Establish your opt-in policy
While it’s important to get prospects to opt-in to receive emails to avoid running afoul of spam laws, the opt-in is also an essential part of making prospects feel like you are creating a relationship with them. You’ll need to decide whether you’ll use a single or double opt-in. A single opt-in simply requires a prospect to provide their email address. The prospect will then start receiving email from you. A double opt-in requires the prospect to enter their email address, causing a confirmation email to be sent. The prospect must then click on a link in the confirmation email to confirm that they signed up.
8. Create and publish your sign-up forms
There are a variety of different forms you can use to gather email addresses. One common type is a sign-up form that runs in the right rail of your website asking people to sign up for something, such as your newsletter. Another common type is a lightbox form that pops up when someone is visiting a page on your website.
9. Use social media
Social moves so quickly that people can fear being left out. Make sure to offer email subscriptions to your valuable newsletters or ongoing offers in social channels, and then make sure what you send them meets their expectations. Test referral programs via social also; some companies find this works well.
10. Thank and welcome your new subscribers
A simple best practice when building your list is to send a thank you or welcome email to prospects after they sign up. Create a trigger email so this happens quickly and automatically. This allows you to start building a relationship with the prospect right away and sets the tone for future emails that they’ll receive from you.
11. Measure and optimize the sign-up process
Building an email list is a never-ending process that can always be improved. Make sure you track conversion rates for the sign-up forms you use. Test different offers, copy, and form designs to see if you can improve the number of email addresses you’re able to collect in a given week or month.
Want to learn more? Check out Act-On’s new “Grow Your Email Marketing List” white paper for an overview of both real-world and virtual ways to build lists that deliver.