There’s one thing every direct mail or email marketing program needs to be successful: A good mailing list. No matter how good your marketing piece, if it’s not paired with an equally effective mailing list, it’s like Romeo with no Juliet, or peanut butter without jelly.
Fortunately, there are a number of strategies you can use to quickly develop (and continue to grow) a responsive marketing mailing list. What follows are 10 of the best:
Gather existing contact information
If you have an existing relationship with someone, then by all means add them to your mailing lists. This includes:
- Friends (family friends, personal friends, the parents of your children’s friends, business associates, neighboring businesses, fellow association members, etc.).
- Referral sources (if they’ve recommended prospective customers in the past, it’s very likely they’ll do so again).
- Past and current customers (search your files for delivery addresses, home addresses, business addresses, email addresses, etc.).
If you’ve been in business for more than a year, you’ve probably got gobs of this contact information just laying around. Now is the time to put it to good use.
Borrow a list
Ask allied businesses if they’d be interested in exchanging mailing lists. If you’re both offering related products / services, the prospects on your lists should welcome the cross-selling.
You can also “rent” a commercial mailing list. Companies compile mailing lists, then rent them to businesses just like yours. (Note: You can only mail to the names on a rented list once, but anyone who responds to that mailing is then considered your customer and can be added to your permanent mailing list.)
Sign up your social media contacts
If you have a business Facebook, Twitter and / or LinkedIn account, add your “friends,” “followers” and colleagues to your marketing mailing lists. You’ll find many people list an email or mailing address in their online profile. But you should also encourage them to sign up for your mailings (like this Twitter posting from SunSolve or this Facebook page for the Summer Camp Music festival).
Use your email signature
Include a call-to-action (“Join my email list!”) in the “signature” area of all your emails.
Use sign-up sheets
Any time you have potential customers milling about (at an open house or near the cash register, for example) have a “Mailing List Sign Up” sheet out – and personally encourage everyone to sign it.
Add a button to your website
If you have a website, ask your webmaster to add an attention-grabbing “Join Our Mailing List” button that links to a simple sign-up page (like you see on the Opal Real Estate Group website).
Create a special marketing postcard promoting all the reasons why someone should sign up for your mailing list. And always include a sentence at the bottom of your regular postcard mailings (e.g. “For updates and news, join my email list”).
Add a link for forwarding
Include a “Forward to a Friend” link in all your marketing emails. The hope is: Once others see your emails, they’ll want to sign up to get future mailings.
Make the most of trade shows
Giddy trade show attendees will hand over a business card with their contact information for anything fun, free or promising. But you must make it clear (in writing) that they’re going to be added to your marketing lists.
Offer a reward
Asking someone to voluntarily add their name to your mailing lists is a good first step. But offering something of value for doing so is a sure way to supercharge the effectiveness of any of the above ideas. Consider offering a promotional item, a discount, a chance to win something, a white paper, or anything else with some perceived value.
A final note
Mailing lists have a way of shrinking over time. So once you’ve got a good list going, keep using these techniques to keep it growing.