Email marketing isn’t just a powerful tool to connect with your target audience in a meaningful way – it’s currently thriving like never before, thanks in large part to the way mobile technology has made email more intimate than ever. According to a study conducted by Pardot, a full 20% of marketers said that they could directly link their email marketing campaigns to their company’s primary revenue source. It was also revealed that not only do 61% of consumers actually like to receive weekly promotional emails, 28% of them wish they happened more frequently.
Because of the undeniable power of email marketing, many businesses have developed the misconception that it is something of a magic bullet – a technique they can use to “skip all the hard work” of marketing and cut right to the core of increased return on investment as quickly as possible. If you’ve got a product or service that you’re trying to market to Christians, a single Christian email list is obviously the best way to do that, right?
One of the most important things to remember is that not all email lists are created equally. Think for a moment about just what a broad topic politics is, especially in the run up to the 2016 Presidential election. Not only do you have to think of your political email leads in terms of “Democrats” and “Republicans,” but also consider the fact that even the parties themselves are fractured in a way that we haven’t seen in quite some time. People can’t even agree on what the actual definition of the term “Republican” means in the present day – why then would you assume that all of your Republican email lists represent one particular type of person or a specific way of thinking?
For the best results, you need to fully understand the choices that you’re being presented with when buying and renting lists. You can’t JUST look at things from the perspective of “Who will this list allow me to reach?” You also have to consider the idea of “what will this particular list allow me to ACCOMPLISH” to actually see the types of results that you’re after.
Aligning With Your Goals
Before you make a decision to rent or buy any one particular list, the first (and most important) question that you need to ask yourself is “how am I defining success?” Exactly what tangible benefit are you looking for, and how will the lists that you’re being presented with help you accomplish those goals?
Some lists are great for branding. If you’re just trying to raise awareness of your conservative organization or about an upcoming event, general conservative politics email lists will likely help you do exactly that. If you’re hoping to drive sales and leads, however, you would likely need to look for something much more targeted than just a general political email list. If your marketing campaigns require this type of tangible return on investment, you need to go with a list that is proven to drive the types of responses you actually need.
As a sophisticated buyer, you always have to keep your intended result in mind before making a decision to go with any one particular list. Results from pay-per-click campaigns, SEO, social media and more do NOT necessarily correlate with email prospecting lists. The results that you’ve been able to unlock with your own internal list may provide a helpful piece of the puzzle, but remember that it is exactly that – one small piece of a much larger whole.
To help determine potential results in the most effective way possible, you need to take a step back and look at things from a macro sense to consider ALL of the factors at play and how they align with your goals.
The Dangers of Making the Wrong Choice
One of the most important things for email marketers to understand is that making the wrong choice for your list doesn’t JUST mean you won’t be able to accomplish your goals – it could also harm you in the long-term in more ways than one. According to a study from Convince and Convert, a full 21% of email recipients regularly report email as spam – even if they know that it isn’t 43% of email recipients will report something as spam based entirely on who sent the message, and a further 69% will report something as spam based almost entirely on the subject line.
These statistics just underline the importance of “getting it right” in terms of getting your message out not to the largest possible audience, but to the RIGHT audience. People tend to think of spam as JUST a message that is irrelevant to their interests, as opposed to a general metric of quality like it was intended. While this logic isn’t necessarily the fault of email marketers like yourself, it is absolutely something you need to be aware of so that you don’t harm your brand and your larger reputation moving forward.
How to Be a Sophisticated List Shopper
In order to find the right email list that will actually help you accomplish what you’re setting out to, you need to look at things from a variety of different angles so you have the most accurate information to use to make informed decisions moving forward.
The number one factor you should concern yourself with is and will always be your creative. Think back to your buyer personas: are the types of people you’re crafting your messages to represented on the list you have in front of you? How will people who don’t fall into those categories respond if they happen to receive an email from you one day?
Another huge factor to consider is your subject line. Convince and Convert indicates that 33% of all email recipients will open a message based solely on the subject line, so you have a very small window through which to make the best possible first impression. Also consider that over 40% of your messages will be opened on a mobile device, which means you have between four and seven words to craft the most effective subject line that you can.
Additionally, you should carefully consider the audience on the list and whether or not they’re likely to find your particular message valuable in the first place. You may use the terms “prepper” and “survivalist” interchangeably, but even general prepper email lists can give you wildly different results than survivalists email lists because you’re talking about two vastly different core audiences.
You also need to think about things not in terms of how you will use the list, but with regards to the historical performance of the list itself. How has the list performed in the past with similar offers to the one that you’re about to send out? What are the average open and click-thru rates? Does the message and tone that you’re about to use match with what the audience is used to receiving? Will the list owner or manager provide you any assistance with your creative elements in this regard, like providing you with examples of newsletters or other content distributed to the list that was successful so you can mimic the tone?
Also examine your relationship with the list owner or manager itself. If the advertisement that you send out under performs, will they make any attempt to help you or are you on your own? Being fully responsible for your own success is fine, but you need to have this conversation BEFORE you actually rent the list so you don’t assume you’ll be receiving help at some point that never comes.
Other Important Considerations
Even after you’ve carefully considered your options and have made sure that a particular list aligns with your long-term goals, there are still a number of important mistakes you can make if you don’t proceed with a certain degree of caution. For optimal performance, it is always best when renting a list to let the list owner mail your content. Purchasing the list or any associated data may not necessarily be in your best interest if you’re not a technical person and don’t know how to actually leverage the power of that data to your advantage. Additionally, services like Mailchimp, Constant Contact and others won’t actually allow you to do this in the first place on their servers, as they always want opt-in data only.
From a certain perspective, it would be a bit like spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a high performance sports car that you have no idea how to drive yourself. The car itself is fantastic, but you’re still going to end up wasting your money if you can’t figure out how to back it out of the driveway and take it for a spin.
As you continue along your path to becoming a true sophisticated list shopper, you’ll also want to start considering the potential of cross-marketing to other audiences that may have a vested interest in responding to your offers. This is true even if they don’t appear to be a natural fit at first glance. Health offers, for example, line up incredibly well with Christian email lists. While these lists are primarily focused on religion, these people also tend to be very focused on the well-being of their families, their communities and themselves – all core values that also coincide with health-based lists in the first place.
Again: you need to always take a step back and focus on the bigger picture in order to guarantee the the types of results that you’re after. Stop looking for the “best” list and start looking for the one that is best for your own unique goals. This will also be true moving forward, as a list that works wonderfully today may not necessarily let you achieve the same results if your own goals evolve over time.