How do I build an effective email database for my business?

Why do I need an email database?

Email databases provide the opportunity to reach out to your customers and prospects with relevant information about your company and special offers for its products as well as other marketing communications. It is important to understand why building one is so important to growing a business, there were 2.5 billion email users in 2015 and this global total is predicted to rise to 2.9 billion by 2019 according to The Radicati Group. Not only are email users a huge catchment but it is also a very direct and personal way of reaching them. It is worth using the range of steps you can take to gather essential email addresses for your database.

Consideration should also be given to the type of information to keep in your database. Using your database to categorise customers can provide valuable insight into your customer base and enhance your marketing campaigns. A good database can be exploited as a marketing tool to help increase your company’s sales while email is a low cost way to spread the word about your business. With 9 out of 10 marketing professionals polled in the 2015 DMA National Client Report stating that email is ‘important’ or ‘very important’ it’s worthwhile taking time to plan out exactly how you intend to use it to ensure you reap the benefits. Email is described as the workhorse of digital marketing and was consistently ranked as the single-most-effective tactic for awareness, acquisition and conversion in a Gigaom Research paper, and was sited by 56% of respondents as the most effective tactic for retention.

What is an email database?

An email database is a collection or list of the names and email addresses of your business’ actual and potential customers. It can be compiled by collecting the addresses of people who express interest in your company or products and from those who purchase products from you. Email-marketing databases can also be purchased for use in marketing campaigns, but these are generally less useful than emails acquired directly by your company.

The list is generally stored within an email delivery software service or a CRM (customer relationship manager) software program from which bulk emails can be sent.

Why is an Email Database so Important to My Business?

Email marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing when measured in terms of conversion rate, that is the number of individuals who receive and view the emails and go on to actually purchase a product or ask for more information about the products or services offered. Adobe Campaign has found that Americans are “practically addicted to email” and that more than half of the millennials they canvassed even check emails from the bathroom and 58% of Americans prefer emails over other marketing touch points This is why making your email database as extensive as possible is crucial: doing so gives you a ready-made audience you can provide with relevant information about sales, special offers, new products and any other information that is likely to drive sales of your products.

Email Marketing is so effective because it provides:

  • Better conversion and click-through (CTR) rates than other forms of marketing: Conversion rates and click-through rates help determine the efficacy of online marketing campaigns. Email marketing has consistently outperformed other forms of marketing such as banner ads and social media marketing in this regard. Because consumers are more likely to open and view emails than other forms of marketing, conversion rates are also higher with this form of marketing.
  • Longer shelf time: Unlike banner ads, which are only good for as long as you pay to have them up, emails typically attract consumer views for a number of days and even weeks after they are sent out. In addition, even if they aren’t acted on right away, they can be saved for later access.
  • Optin sign-up: Most email lists consist of consumers who have opted-in in order to receive information about a company’s product offerings. As a result, they represent a group that is more likely to be interested in purchasing a company’s products than consumers reached via traditional advertising efforts.
  • Mobile access: With consumers increasingly consuming media on mobile devices, the ability of email marketing to consistently reach this audience helps its success rate. Unlike forms of advertising such as TV or newspapers which are not always easy to access on a mobile device, emails are typically easier to view, improving the success rate corresponding to their usage.
  • Repeat business: By regularly staying in touch with your list you encourage customers to continue to do business with your company. Unlike impulse buying, which generally results in short term sales, repeat business from loyal customers provides your business with a steady level of ongoing revenue. Continuous email contact is a proven method of encouraging this type of behaviour.

How To Capture Email Addresses?

There are a variety of methods for adding email addresses to your database. One of the best ways to do so is to add a capture box or other functionality to your website where those who would like to receive further information about your products, special deals and the like can enter their email address. You can also encourage followers of your company on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, to sign up for your mailing list by directing them to your website via links on those sites.

Email address mailing lists can also be purchased. While these lists generally don’t feature conversion rates as attractive as lists you have built organically, they can be useful if they are chosen to contain addresses of consumers who are likely to be interested in the products your company offers.

Including those mentioned above, methods for capturing email addresses include:

  • Website opt-in (Capture) box: Allows visitors to sign up to receive emails from your company, can be located on single or multiple pages, can be timed to pop up after a pre determined period e.g. 5 seconds.
  • Competitions and prizes: Offering prizes to incentivise individuals to provide their email information is also a good way to quickly build your email database.
  • Social media: Communications on social media such as tweets and Facebook posts containing links to your website or a specific landing page where interested parties can enter their email information.
  • Physical sign-up: If your business has a brick and mortar presence or if you have a partnership agreement with a business the sales person can hand out a sign-up sheet or ask customers and prospects for their email address as a why to keep them up to with new products and offerings.
  • Purchasing email lists: This is typically the most expensive way to build your email database. However, it does provide a way to quickly add names to your list when necessary. If you choose this route, the following considerations should be taken into account:
  • Acquire current emails: Make sure any email list you purchase has a high percentage of current, valid emails.
  • Topicality: The more targeted the list the better. Try to acquire emails of consumers who have expressed an interest in the type of products your company offers.
  • Opt-in emails: Lists compiled of consumers who have expressed an interest in receiving information should be used whenever possible. Using non opt-in lists increases the chances of being reported as a spammer, even when opt-out links are offered in email marketing communications.

Once you’ve collected emails, you will need to store them in a database which makes it easy to use them in your email marketing campaigns. There are a variety of CRM (customer relationship manager) programs available to do just this covering SME’s to enterprise level, including Constant Contact, AWeber, Mailchimp, Salesforce to name a few.

What Type of Information Should Go in my Database?

A variety of information helping you categorize and selectively target different groups of prospects should be captured in your database. These include:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Location (City, Post Code, Address)
  • Type of products interested in
  • Type of products purchased (if relevant)

How Do I Drive Sales From My Email Database?

Once you’ve built your email database it’s time to put it to use. There are a variety of ways you can utilise it to help drive business. These include:

Sales: Let your audience know when a sale is occurring. Consumers love a bargain, and email contact offers one of the most efficient ways to let people know when they have a chance to get one.

Special offers and prizes: Give those on your list a chance to benefit from letting you send them emails. Notify your list that they have a chance to take advantage of a special offer only for those on the list. Or offer prizes for those who take certain actions, such as mentioning your business online, or referring a friend.

Include links: Don’t just tell your list about a sale or special offer, enable them to take part by providing links so they can order your products online.

Provide business updates: Every email communication doesn’t have to revolve around selling product. Notifying your list about important updates and milestones your business has achieved helps keep your audience engaged and increases customer loyalty. This can include things like the debut of a new product, or other important developments. If you publish a company blog you can use your email list to notify your audience when a new blog is published.

Feature customer stories / case studies: Another method of building consumer engagement in, and loyalty to, your company is to provide information about how other customers have made use of your products. This is another soft-sell approach that increases engagement and helps build customer loyalty to your brand.

Building a strong database has been shown to pay dividends and with a raft of new marketing and sales applications being developed, including the rise of Marketing Automation, so keep in mind that in order to capitalise on these exciting technologies you will need to set up an email database and CRM.