Since the infancy of direct-response marketing, a targeted and captive audience has been the key to success. It didn't take long for "the list" to become king.
Though your list may remain the most powerful pillar of your direct-response effort, you also need strong, motivating offers and spot-on creative to go with it. Still, without the ability to reach the right people, the most enticing offers and the most exceptional creative take you nowhere.
In online marketing, when it comes to lists, the email-marketing list reigns supreme. But for most email marketers, continual email-list growth is the Achilles' heel of email marketing.
Neither side of the list-growth dilemma is pretty:
- Prospect lists. You have to constantly replenish the pipeline. For every sign-up you get, there's a potential unsubscribe. Most email lists are in constant motion, with people coming and going all the time.
You can't assume that every subscriber is going to stick around indefinitely or that every prospect will become a customer. Yet without enough new list members, you won't have enough prospects who'll become customers. So how do you keep the influx flowing and greater than the outflow?
- Customer lists. Achieving 100% email-address coverage on customer lists seems impossible. Unless you're a pure-play online business for which an email address is required for every sale, some customers are just never going to hand over their closely guarded email address (or the specific address you want).
Others now prefer to communicate via social-media sites (largely Facebook and Twitter). Still more are happy to remain old school; they want phone and direct-mail communication. Send them catalogs and coupons, and they're content.
So, how do you entice newcomers to join your list and then convince those eventual customers who haven't yet handed over their email address to finally give it up?
In Part 1 of this series, I'll share prospect-list growth tactics and then move on to customer-list growth strategies in Part 2. I'll wrap it up with list-engagement essentials in Part 3.