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A guest blog by Sarah Orchard – Associate Marketing Consultant at Cornberry

Did you know that, despite the popularity of social media, email marketing continues to be a really effective method of marketing?


Well, recent research by Econsultancy proves that email marketing generates high return on investment – as much as 500% in 30% of the companies surveyed. And even better news for small businesses, an email marketing campaign doesn’t require huge financial outlay – if you approach it in the right way.

I’ve always been an advocate of email marketing. When I worked for Avis, I saw at first hand just how powerfully email marketing worked for big business and, in more recent years, as a marketing consultant to smaller businesses my faith in email marketing has been rewarded with excellent results from the campaigns I run on behalf of my clients.

Data quality is always the key

The biggest sticking point is, not surprisingly, the quality of your mailing list. Faced with the need to engage with their target audience, many companies will have no hesitation in purchasing a list, but I always strongly advise against this route. No matter what the broker may say to convince you, bought-in lists cannot be guaranteed to be current; email address data deteriorates by approximately 25% each year, so you could end up with as much as half of your list being defunct. Nor can you be certain that opt-ins have been obtained.

Just think for a moment how many unwelcome emails clutter your inbox every day! It’s quite possible that your email address has ended up on some dubious list that is now being sold to all and sundry. Or, if you ever attend networking events, you may be the unwitting victim of business card harvesting, where your details are entered into lots of databases and a bombardment of emails then ensues. It’s something that I have experienced many times and cannot tolerate! I immediately unsubscribe and mark the senders as spam – that business has then lost me as a network contact, or even a potential customer, because they are abusing my privacy and very elementary email marketing best practice rules.

What you really need is an audience that is both relevant and receptive to your service or product. And that means creating your own list; naturally, it will take longer and requires more effort, but you can ensure that people have actually opted to receive information from you (and compliance with UK Data Protection really is essential) and are more likely to respond positively to your email campaign.

So how do you successfully build a list?

It’s all about incorporating data capture into every part of your business that offers a customer touch point – giving a reason to share their contact details and, importantly, getting their permission to use those details in the future. You might invite them to register for a free trial or sample, offer to share a whitepaper or podcast, or sign up for a free monthly newsletter. The obvious customer touch point is, of course, your website and blog, along with social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter. But you can also exploit your email signature and business card, and if you are networking or attending seminars or workshops, make sure you ask everyone who gives you their card if you can use their contact details.

Growing a contacts database organically may take longer, but isn’t it better to know that every entry has expressed a willingness to hear from you? It’s already one positive step towards converting a prospect into a customer.

At Cornberry, we love email lists and can help you get just the right data for your email campaigns!