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How to Build A Highly Qualified Email List

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Posted by: Travis McGinnis on Wed, Jun 27, 2018

Qualfied Email ListThis post is going to focus on arguably the most important part of building qualified email marketing lists: getting leads into your database! Not just any leads. The right leads.

What About Purchasing a List?

If your first thought is to just purchase an email marketing list, then you're doing it wrong. Not only is purchasing lists illegal, those who do so are just asking to be blacklisted by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and banned from their Email Service Provider. MailChimp, Constant Contact, Campaign Monitor, and HubSpot are all email providers. Further, the sending reputation for their domain will suffer. In some cases, the damage may be irreversible depending on the severity of the complaints, the nature and the number of the emails sent.

CAN-SPAM laws here in the United States, CASL in Canada, and various sets of laws in the UK all make it illegal to purchase email marketing lists. Plus, with the recent GDPR Legislation in the European Union, and Facebook's congressional hearings both domestic and abroad, user privacy is front and center and under more scrutiny than ever. Now is not the time to gamble with a purchased email list.

To make it crystal clear: never under any circumstances should you purchase an email marketing list. Ever. No matter how "qualified" the seller claims the list to be, do not purchase it. Even if the seller claims the list to be entirely opted-in, it's still a no go. Even it the list is "clean" or had a "good historical open rate" or any other claim brokers will make to get you to buy their lists. Never, ever, ever, EVER buy a list. Capiche?

Now, onto the ethical and legally sound methods for building a qualified email marketing list.

Obtain the Email Address First

Too many forms focus on the wrong information. If you don’t have the person on file already, just get their email first. The rest can come later through offer forms, contact forms, profile updates, etc.

Conversely, if you eliminate all questions except for the email address on the initial subscribe form, you’ll get a lot more leads … but they won’t be as high quality as you may like/need. You’ll need to find that balance of what to ask for on “the first date” instead of later on in the nurturing process.

Eliminate Cost & Build Value on Your Subscribe Form Pages

Cost and value? What in the world do those economic terms have to do with collecting a simple email address? Everything.

Every form field question you ask, or worse yet, require, increases the perceived cost of that form in the eyes of the user.

With a system like HubSpot, you can make any email subscribe form submit to a thank you page that asks more questions. With their Smart Fields feature, HubSpot will have known values (like the email address they just gave you) already filled in and hidden.

Then you can ask them to “Complete Your Profile” with items like First & Last Name, Job Title, Company, Phone Number, etc.

Use this page to ask for the information relevant to your business model. Maybe their company name or phone number isn’t important at this stage in the process. If you sold software licenses based on the number of users, wouldn’t it be good to know how many employees they have instead?

If the user chooses to not fill those out, at least you have their email. You can then segment your list by customers with only an email address and send them very top-level nurturing emails. The more information you have on file, the more qualified that person becomes. Add them to other, more specific nurturing emails.

Imagine if your initial form had all of those questions on it from the get-go. That’s a huge cost for the user. Not only time cost. There will be fear that you’ll abuse their information, they’ll get spam or unwanted emails and they’ll just unsubscribe anyways. Or what if there isn’t a way to unsubscribe? Those are all forms of cost and anxiety we all subconsciously consider when looking at forms asking for our sacred information.

Don’t take my word for it. Business2Community ran a study to prove that simpler 2 step forms outperform longer single step forms.

Make Any Non-Essential Form Fields Optional

I’d actually just recommend removing anything that isn’t absolutely critical to the offer at hand. However, asking questions you don’t necessarily need but making them optional can be a good way of qualifying your leads even further.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you’re asking people to download an eBook. Your offer form asks for the following:

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number

If you don’t actually need the phone number for the eBook download, just make that field optional.

In fact, Meclabs already tested this.

Here is the original form:

Meclabs Original Form

Here is the optimized form:

Meclabs Optimized Form

Do you see the difference? It’s subtle. They added (optional) after the Phone number label.

Guess what that one little change did? It increased form submissions by 275%!

Plus, those who actually filled it in when they were not required to are likely more qualified leads because they voluntarily gave information that was not required. Think about that!

Clarity Trumps Persuasion

I alluded to this in a previous post, 5 Proven Tips to Re-Invigorate Your Email Marketing Efforts. If you find conversion pages use copy that tries to goad your visitor into handing over their information, you’ve just created cost. That’s the very thing we’re trying to eliminate.

So what’s the takeaway here? Keep It Stupid Simple! I know, I reversed that last part on purpose. It should be so simple it’s stupid. Your persona didn’t wake up this morning and say to themselves, “Self, I really want to hand over my personal information to a total stranger today!”

Keep your forms simple. Keep your headlines simple. Keep your body copy simple. Make them all clear and relate directly to the value of what you want them to do.

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Travis McGinnis

About The Author

Travis McGinnis

I’m passionate about making things happen for our clients, thus generating real and quantifiable results. As the Technical Marketing Manger, I have the joy to touch nearly every aspect of our clients’ inbound marketing efforts. From social media, to blogging, to PPC to lead nurturing, and email marketing. I love generating new ideas and then watching them come to life. In my free time, I brew my own beer with my dad and brother, play with my kids, go on dates with my wife and occasionally get a little gaming in.

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