Building buyers, not just lists, for email marketing

Posted by Spike Email Marketing

There’s been a lot of buzz lately about databases. Not only is everyone concerned about how many people they have on their list, but also how to acquire more. After all, it’s all about sales and you need the biggest audience possible, right?

In a sense, yes – but really, that’s only part of the equation.

First let’s look at the facts. With only 4.5 million people New Zealand is a pretty small country. This means, as a retailer, you are doing very well if you have anything close to 20,000 people on your database. However these numbers are typically reserved for the big guys with nationwide chains. So if you’re working with fewer numbers (even by a long shot) there is nothing to fear.

What matters when it comes to your database is quality over quantity. In other words the marketing stunts that just get names for the sake of numbers, and then drive up your ‘unsubscribe’ stats, are not worth the effort.

By thinking long-term when it comes to acquisition, you’ll be able to use email marketing to not only stay in business, but to steadily grow it.

It may seem bold, but I’m saying it: You don’t have to have a huge database to do good business. Instead, it’s about building a list of people who are interested in your products or services, and then keeping in touch with them, via consistent email marketing.

Email marketing that is executed professionally has become a valid and respected channel to stay top of mind with consumers and position yourself as an expert in your field. Email done properly is far from having the label ‘spam’ anymore.

By being consistent and relevant, and keeping your message simple, you’re not only encouraging repeat purchases from your customers, you are mobilising them to become your additional sales force. You can do this by making it easy for them to engage in positive word of mouth on your behalf.

‘How-to’ and an example

As Kiwis we’re a helpful bunch and we love giving advice and recommendations to our family and friends. However, we’ve also become more wary of how much information we’re bombarded with, and so in response we’ve become more considerate of each other’s time.

In this environment of ‘social curation’, email campaigns revolving around the Tell a Friend competition format work well. A far cry from the past when we would have forwarded such an email to everyone we knew in order to qualify for more entries into the competition. Nowadays people only tend to tell the friends that they know will be genuinely interested.
What this means for the retailer behind the campaign is the acquisition of quality leads and valuable additions to their database. Let’s take a look at a case study of this very scenario in action…

A retailer engaged us to design, send and manage a Tell a Friend campaign. Of the people who entered the competition, 74% told at least one friend, therefore sending the brand message further than the reach this retailer could naturally achieve. Of the extras that received the email 38% of them entered the competition as well.

During the six weeks of the campaign this retailer grew their already substantial database by 26%. What’s more, the quality of these new people was confirmed when there was no appreciable increase in ‘unsubscribes’ when they sent more emails out following the campaign.

So, the moral of the story? It’s about growing your list organically with people who have been qualified in some way as prospective buyers. Professional email marketing not only allows you to do just that, but also provides a cost-effective channel to continue communicating with your growing list. This then continues feeding the ‘positive word of mouth machine’.

Just remember the biggest lists aren’t always the ones that result in the largest percentage of sales. A truly positive return on investment is possible no matter what the size of your database if you’ve got buyers and not just a list.

Originally published in the February 2013 edition of New Zealand Retail Magazine