by John Eberhard

Email marketing to an in-house email list is very effective. After you put together a good looking web site and start getting traffic to come to the site, you should start thinking about how to build up an in-house email list. These are people who request to be on your list or who request something from you and give you their email address.

email marketingUnfortunately this takes a little time. But you need to formulate a strategy and implement it so that you can start building that list, because having a large email list is an incredible resource.

I once worked for a company where we built up a huge email list over a year and a half. Then the parent company increased our royalties from 15% to 35%, which effectively shut down our marketing budget. It was not a good situation, but because I had built up an email list of 300,000 names, I was able to keep leads and sales going for a year with little to no ad budget.

The point is that with a large email list, you can market to it on a regular basis for little to no money.

Building a List

The key to building a list is to offer things that people will respond to, giving you their email address.

  1. Free Reports or White Papers: I have used this tactic successfully for a lot of companies. Come up with a topic that you think will resonate with your target public, write a snappy title, then write 1,000-2,000 words, and design it with a nice cover and some graphics. Put it in PDF format so you can email it to people for free. Your topic should be something that is directly aligned with your product or service, so that everyone reaching for it will be a possible prospect, now or later on. Then get the word out on various channels and offer the report for free, but of course require that they give you their contact info including email. Works great for consumers and business to business.
  2. Email Newsletter: Offer a free email newsletter subscription on your web site. This doesn’t have as much appeal as it used to because people are getting so many emails. But if you put together a good newsletter with good content and promote it, people will come.
  3. Software Demos: If you sell software, it is vital to offer a demo version of the software on your site, and this will get you more email addresses than you can shake a stick at, IF you are getting traffic.

What and How Often to Send

Once you build up hundreds or thousands of names, you can email to them on a regular basis. I would say that usually up to once a week is OK. More often than that and you will get a lot of askoffs.

Send them an email newsletter. I am sending mine out weekly now, and I get a steady stream of business from it. The main part of the newsletter should be some article giving advice or data of some value, but you can include ads or blurbs selling your products, and of course with lots of links to your web site and blog.

Come up with emails promoting special offers, new products, old products. You can also send out a press release announcing some new product or service whenever you start a new one.

How to Send

I have been using a product called Mass Emailer for years that is desktop based, and it works just fine. You can create unlimited lists but you have to add and remove people by hand. I create my HTML newsletters or emails in Dreamweaver, then send to my heart’s content.

There are also several online services, where people sign up and remove themselves, including Constant Contact and iContact. These services cost in the neighborhood of $20 per month. You sign up, set up your list or lists, then create a web form, and put that onto pages of your web site. Some HTML knowledge is required to get it set up with your web site. Then to send something you log into your interface and either use one of their templates or upload a file you have created using Dreamweaver or some other web authoring program.

Also makes sure you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act, which mainly consists of putting your physical address in the email, and having an opt-out option for people. And you have to remove anyone who asks off in 10 days. See my earlier article on CAN-SPAM.