Natalie Ustymenko

Head of Direct Marketing

Forbidden methods to build an email list

Forbidden Methods to Build an Email List

Once again I want to repeat: "The quality of your mailing list is much more important than quantity". Of course, everyone wants to get everything here and now, so people try to collect subscribers for their mailings from everywhere, just like an old man from a fairy tale. Sometimes this rush is not just breaking the ethical code but even becoming criminal. I was in doubt for a long would I publish this article because it’s not just a compilation of advices but also a would-be “manual” for "bad guys”, from lazybones to cheaters. But finally, I decided that my article doesn’t include anything new for people of this type.

So let's consider these black ways how to build an email list, from criminal to simply useless:

1. Buying the email list. You cannot be really sure about the current status of such email list. Maybe you just bought a bunch of blacklisted email contacts that may damage your reputation. But even if everything is ok with email list, recipients of unwanted mailing messages can mark them as spam and it may negatively affect the delivery of your further emails.

What should we do?

Ask customers for email contacts when they making purchase or registering the discount card, add subscription forms to your website or make promos. Remember that email and SMS campaigns are channels for so-called "permission" marketing, not for traditional "distraction" when priority is just to attract clients attention at any cost.

2. Manual email list building using media sources. Most likely that contacts published in newspapers and Internet belong to secretary or admin that are unlikely to view your emails or, even more, forward them to the boss. Even if your mailing was successfully delivered to the addressee, it's rather unpleasant when there is something like "you received this message because you have subscribed to..." while the client has no idea who does write him and why.

What's to be done?

Customers should be really interested in your newsletters. First of all, offer not YOUR products but something useful for THEM (event calendars, exhibitions schedules, books etc) And only when the client gave a "permission to communicate" you can send all the stuff: special offers, limited goods from stock, digital coupons etc.

3. Cheats when subscribing. There is just a newsletter subscription form on your website but you send everything.

What do you need?

You rather already made communications with most of your clients but still just start familiarizing with some others. So take into account the interests of your clients and think what would he like to see in your newsletters. For example, offer the following points in your questionnaire:   

  • Brand new collection

  • Sales and promos

  • Special offers

  • Discount card balance etc.

4. Sharing the email marketing lists. If people are subscribed to mailings from your friend - it doesn’t mean that they are desperate to receive something from you. Besides that, you cannot be also sure is it really your target audience and did subscribers agree to receive messages from partners.

But if..., still dare to risk with mailing campaign of this type, it’s better when it made on behalf of actual email list owner. Such advertising is more effective because customers are interested to receive something new from those they trust.

5. Hiring temp managers to collect the email list. In fact, very few of these “summer workers” are really care about the high quality of email list management; in addition, they can just give you someone's database or resell your email address list. Their only purpose is to get money for the work accomplished, no matter is it well-done or poor - let spam filters and subscribers decide it.

What to do next?

You will agree that most convenient way is when the same one person is responsible for all the communications with clients. If some questions or misunderstandings arise, there is an opportunity to fix it quickly.  

6. Using personal email contacts for mailings. Communications in social networks or by phone make people familiar with you... but when they start to receive messages from some stranger it may be really annoying.

What is the solution?

If you are website owner - write a convincing article about the top importance of your emailings for customers. Try to describe the profits your clients will get by subscribing to your newsletters and why is it interesting to THEM. Configure your website, social network pages, and mailings together as interconnected system that provides mutual benefit for you and your clients.

7. Using official documents for email list building. This way often leads to the irreversible collapse of relations with your partners, customers etc.

I have an interesting example to tell.

I didn’t sign any agreements with my mobile operator but nevertheless, I constantly received advertising messages.

  1. I neither asked for this nor agreed to receive messages of this kind.

  2. Operators considered it too difficult to segment their mailing list so I received ads for everything, from pampers to cars.

  3. There were no mailings in the nighttime but things got much worse in the morning.

  4. I received such an SMS: "If you want to stop mailings just send STOP to 878 number". It seemed to be ok BUT sending SMS messages to short numbers was disabled by default in my phone settings, i.e. I just couldn’t unsubscribe. So I had to solve this problem by calling operator and processing the request that took several days.

What’s the right answer?

If you want to notify your clients about something using SMS campaigns just request their agree/disagree and sometimes send messages with the offer to subscribe.  

8. Using the advertising services. Quite a quick way to get a subscriber for 0.01 cents. But think twice: you spend money to build email list that consists of uncertain contacts -> send them emails -> these emails are "smoldering" in Inbox for some weeks working out your money -> messages end their days in recycle bin or being marked as spam because someone is too lazy to move cursor to “Unsubscribe" button.

Is there some alternative?

It’s better to spend money more wisely - offer some gift for subscription; just remember that type of bonus have to depend on the target audience (books, special offers, discount prices are in trend today). Finally, use your money to make contextual advertising where you will be able to get email contacts of potential customers from the landing page.

Even if you made mailing using a hard-earned email list - be ready that clients will unsubscribe. The most important things for email list management are to delete dead contacts in time and constantly update your database in every legal way. Maybe your mailings will be the key factor that significantly increases the number of customers and strengthen their trust in you. Good luck!:)

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Natalie Ustymenko

Head of Direct Marketing

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