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Email’s power surges from data

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If inboxes seem unusually full after a quiet weekend, that might not be your imagination. Studies show that Monday emails have the greatest impact.

This is not news to digital marketing executive and trainer Emmanual Ibekwe. He creates and manages data-driven email marketing campaigns and sales funnels. During an Africa Tweet Chat, Ibekwe explained why email lists matter.

“An email list is basically a list of subscribers,” he said. “In simple terms, these are people who gave you their email addresses along with their express permission for you to mail them.

“Think of it as when someone accepts your warm hand of friendship,” Ibekwe said. “It’s usually a sure way to build great business relationships and for marketing purposes.”

Permission really matters, although there is wiggle room.

“This does not mean companies do not do otherwise, but permission is important,” Ibekwe said. “It makes it easy for you not to complain about getting an email you never planned for.”

Email lists are compiled and curated over months and years. They reflect your history as well as the potential for your professional future.

“Think of the process you would use to make new friends,” Ibekwe said. “Say you meet somewhere, have a conversation, and they totally love your content. Then you ask for their contact details, and they willingly give them to you.

“There are other instances,” he said. “They are in a hurry, but before they leave, you promise them a gift — with a catch: They can only get your gift if they drop their contact information. Well, your gift is nice, so they drop off their contact.”

Putting on the squeeze

These are the major ways email lists are built, but there are more methods than face-to-face interactions, such as those done through squeeze pages.

Per Google, a squeeze page is a landing page designed to capture opt-in email addresses from potential subscribers. The goal of a squeeze page is to convince, cajole or otherwise ”squeeze” a visitor into providing one of their most sought-after and coveted pieces of personal data: their email address.

“Most times, interactions via a blog, squeeze page, pop-up page on a site or blog, or ad pop-up promise you something only if you drop an email address,” Ibekwe said. “Using a pop-up does not guarantee you the email address you want. Usually you need a lead magnet, which could be a PDF or short video — something your target audience needs.

“Your lead magnet is what compels them to drop their email address with you,” he said. “How useful your lead magnet is helps determine how interested they would be in giving you their address.”

Social media is a big contributor to the growth of an email list.

“Making friends at a party is pretty easy, but the only way to sustain the friendship is to have the person’s contact information,” Ibekwe said. “What happens when you leave the party? Friendship over?

“Social Media is the ‘party,’” he said. “The person’s email is your contact. The one way we recommend you stay and keep in touch is by trying to get the email address.”

Email lists then become a backup for online failures.

“You can use social media to establish a following, gain reputation and clout,” Ibekwe said. “Yet, we mostly recommend getting email addresses because social sites can go down at any time, and all your followership would be lost.

“Your email list is the only real piece of real estate you own,” he said. “This is the same way owners of social media sites have your email addresses and phone numbers in their kitty. You are in their ‘real estate.’”

Property promotion

Ibekwe believes all entrepreneurs should invest in such online property.

“Grow your clout with social media, but by all means, get your piece of real estate,” he said. “Make it yours by promoting your sign-up page on social media.

“While promoting it, ensure you give people an idea of what you would be sharing with them once they drop their email address with you,” Ibekwe said. “At least they know what to expect from you.”

Collecting addresses is only a start. Email subscribers must stay engaged.

“Give them what you promised them,” Ibekwe said. “If I promise you XYZ e-book for joining my list, the first thing I want to give you once you join is your e-book. This helps us build up trust before I send you other newsletter-worthy content.

“Create a schedule for how many times you hope to send them an email,” he said. “Then always have a call to action for each email you send. More importantly, your content helps determine how interesting your email would be.”

The more interesting the email, the more recipients will stay engaged. 

“When I say ‘interesting,’ I also mean ‘relevant,’” Ibekwe said. “If you signed up to my list to receive recipes and I sent you cloth designs, that’s not relevant.

“Focus more on fulfilling that first promise you made them when they wanted to sign up,” he said. “Make it fun with corresponding calls to action to help.”

Messages should be tailored for each list.

“Selling to your list helps you segment your list,” Ibekwe said. “Then you can easily identify the ‘buyers.’ A buyers list is quite precious for your marketing, but don’t stop mailing to those who did not buy at that moment.

“If they did not buy, maybe they are pooling funds together, or they don’t have the cash just yet,” he said. “Worse, they are not interested in buying. It’s not the end of the road. They don’t buy your offer today, but they could buy another of your offers tomorrow.”

Optimum days and times

Days when you send bulk email depend upon when potential customers are most active. That can vary from group to group, which makes it even more important to listen to when your groups stir.

“I might not have a best day or days, but you need to test,” Ibekwe said. “For example, last year I was with an e-commerce store in Canada. From my emails, I discovered that I got the best results on Tuesday.

“I tried other days, and the second-best day was Thursday,” he said. “Is there a method to it? Maybe. There are some reports saying Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best days, but don’t take my word for it. You need to try and test to see what works for you.”

Another case proved his point.

“Still in Canada, I helped a restaurant, and we got the best responses on a Friday — a day most people would say not to send emails,” Ibekwe said. “So, it varies by sector and by your content, along with how engaged your list subscribers are. 

“So, test, test, test and test,” he said. Also test for time. My emails for the e-commerce store did better during lunch break than for other times.”

Contrary to the earlier study, Ibekwe is leery about start-of-the-week messaging.

“As a rule, I worry about sending email on Monday because I get reports saying Mondays are a no-no,” he said. “I have watched my Monday routine to know that all I do on Monday is clear my mailbox. Yet, don’t take my word. Test your lists.”

Building email lists from blogs and keeping recipients active takes a special approach.

“Start by adding a squeeze page to your blog,” Ibekwe said. “From there, share snippets from your most interesting or recent articles in the email you send. 

“Once in a while, try something for fun,” he said. “Share something related to what your blog is about. A fashion blog can, for instance, share a new dress idea to subscribers.”

Milk and share

This is also a good place to promote lead magnets or simply ask people to subscribe to your blog.

“It’s always easier if you have a large and engaged following on social media,” Ibekwe said. “Milk it. Milk the most of it.

“In your mail, don’t be scared to ask them to share it with their friends who might like your content,” he said. “The idea is every fashionista knows another. So, let them share your email for you and grow your audience.”

Email is not a numbers game but a quality game. An email list of 10 mostly active respondents is far better than a list of a thousand duds, as Ibekwe explained:

  • Yes, you need a substantial number on your email list. A thousand engaged subscribers would be really nice.
  • No, you don’t really need a huge list if they would not engage with your email. It kinda defeats the whole purpose of having the list if they are unresponsive.

“It’s nice to have an email list, but better still, it would be great to have a list that engages with your messages,” Ibekwe said.

Without getting complicated, entrepreneurs can use simple tools to build email lists.

“Start with a lead magnet,” Ibekwe said.”Decide on what would be valuable to your ideal audience. It could be a simple PDF with ‘Tips on how to dress to kill.’

“Once we have our lead magnet, let’s work on a squeeze page, which basically asks for their email address in exchange for your lead magnet,” he said. “Because this is similar to an opt-in page, you have many styles to easily choose from.”

Pop-up plug-ins through MailMunch and Mailchimp help collect email addresses.

“These tools are also email service providers,” Ibekwe said.”That way, when you use them, your work is really way easier because they integrate quite smoothly. I would recommend them, but if your tech skills are a notch higher, feel free to try others out there.

“Remember, building an email list is essential,” he said. “Do it the same way you make friends. Be intentional about it.”

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Jim Katzaman
Jim Katzaman is a manager at Largo Financial Services. A writer by trade, he graduated from Lebanon Valley College, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English. He enlisted in the Air Force and served for 25 years in public affairs – better known in the civilian world as public relations. He also earned an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science in Public Affairs. Since retiring, he has been a consultant and in the federal General Service as a public affairs specialist. He also acquired life and health insurance licenses, which resulted in his present affiliation with Largo Financial Services. In addition to expertise in financial affairs, he gathers the majority of his story content from Twitter chats. This has led him to publish about a wide range of topics such as social media, marketing, sexual harassment, workplace trends, productivity and financial management. Medium has named him a top writer in social media.

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