Content may be king, but even the best e-newsletters will go unnoticed if the distribution database is sparse or targeted to the incorrect audience.

Businesses must commit resources to growing and maintaining segmented e-mail lists if they plan to conduct any form of e-mail marketing.

Best Practices for Building E-mail Lists

Today’s best practices have been shaped by years of unrelenting SPAMMERS. The accepted protocol restricts businesses from distributing e-mail newsletters to people who haven’t “opted in,” or signed up to receive them.

The days of purchasing e-mail lists are over. Companies and individuals who fail to abide by best practices may be reported as SPAMMERS, despite their best intentions. This can cause a host of problems for any business.

This permission-based method of acquiring subscribers may seem slow to start, but there are numerous strategies companies can use to gain momentum:

  • Ask: Yes, it can be as simple as asking. Reach out to business associates, partners and other professionals to find out whether they would like to receive a subscription. This can be done by phone, e-mail, in-person or via social media networks.
  • Company website: Post an e-mail sign-up box on the company website and/or blog. Businesses serious about building their databases will want this prominently displayed on the homepage and perhaps a sidebar or footer on each internal page.
  • Easy sign-up: Only require potential subscribers to submit their name and e-mail address in order to receive the newsletter. Many people are turned off by sign-up processes that require them to provide extensive information.
  • E-mail signature: Append a subscription link to the signature of all staff e-mails.
  • Incentives: Provide potential subscribers with an incentive to sign up, such as a promo item, free consultation, white paper, case study or trial subscription.
  • Forwarding capabilities: Incorporate a “forward to a friend” button on the e-newsletter template.
  • Sign-up sheets: Bring e-newsletter sign-up sheets to events and speaking engagements the company hosts.
  • Social media: Ask followers on social networks like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn if they’re interested in signing up.

E-newsletter Database Maintenance

E-mail databases require regular maintenance. In addition to building the database, businesses need to ensure the e-mail addresses are current. People leave jobs, get married and switch e-mail systems on a regular basis. Conduct a “cleaning” about once a month.

Segmented E-mail Lists

As the e-newsletter database grows and diversifies, consider grouping contacts into segmented e-mail lists. Depending on the company’s database size and e-mail marketing goals, it may be appropriate to develop separate e-mail communications targeted towards each group. This can increase open rates and subscriber loyalty.

According to current best practices for building e-mail lists, businesses are restricted from distributing e-newsletters to individuals who don’t opt in to receive them. Potential contacts must sign up or approve the subscription themselves, and savvy marketers learning how to make the process as easy as possible.