Quality e-List development

10 tips for building quality e-mail lists

Your company's-mail list is its Holy Grail to a long, healthy life. In contrast, a poorly created and maintained list can harm your company and hurt its bottom line.

How can you create a profitable e-mail list?

Take the long view when creating your customer list. Diligent effort over time yields a high performing list that increases sales and customer loyalty.

Here are some of the key elements and "best practices" for building a quality customer e-mail list:

  1. Get customer consent to use their e-mail address. A permission-based list is required by federal law. It is part of meeting CANSPAM compliance.
  2. Use business reply cards that customers can fill out and return to your receptionist or drop in the mail.
  3. Show customers what they'll get when and how often you send out e-mails. A printed sample of the e-mail campaign goes a long way toward customer trust and permission.
  4. Make e-mail collection part of your daily operations. Every customer "touch point"—the checkout counter, receptionist, sales area, direct mail, catalogs—must be included in the e-mail collection program.
  5. Train your employees how to ask for a customer's e-mail. The right words open doors, the wrong phrase puts up blocks.
  6. Set up on-line subscription forms at your company website.
  7. Leverage events for e-mail collection. Put on a contest that requires an e-mail for winner notification.
  8. Send out a confirmation notice any time a customer provides their e-mail address. This is a good way to remind them that they "opted in" to a list and helps prevent future spam complaints.
  9. Post your e-mail policy. This is required by most e-mail service providers and lets customers know their address is safe in your hands.
  10. Deactivate customer e-mail addresses immediately upon request. This maintains integrity of your list and reduces spam complaints, which can damage deliverability. Service providers such as AOL, Hotmail and Yahoo! will block senders who have a high level of complaints.