By Samantha Gluck
Small businesses need effective, inexpensive ways to market to a target audience. Email marketing is still a viable method available to businesses trying to get the word out about their products and services. You know what content to provide to catch the eye of potential customers, have promotions ready for the campaign, and now need a list of prospects to whom you can send the email. Buying or renting an email list of hundreds or even thousands of names is an easy way to get them, but finding a reputable vendor with fresh names is not. By following a few simple guidelines, you can make certain your investment in an email list is not a waste of time and money.
Try Before You Buy
When searching for a vendor for your marketing list, choose one that allows you to test a small portion of the list before buying the entire thing. This will cost a little money, but not nearly the cost of buying all the names. Send out your well-crafted email with promotions to the grouping of names and see if it works. If it does, you are probably on the right track. Any vendor that refuses to allow this should be regarded with suspicion.
Know the Going Rate
Email marketing companies charge per name on the list. Price out several vendors before going further in the process. Some shady email marketing companies will offer prices at 75 percent or lower than other ones. This is a glaring red flag. You don’t want to pay too much, but you also don’t want junk. If someone were offering to sell you a piece of "diamond" jewelry at 75 percent or more less than what you know it is worth, you would be wary. The same goes in the case of email list vendors offering ridiculously low prices.
Ask How Lists Are Collected
Lists should be fresh, targeted and collected with a double opt-in method. A double opt-in procedure is one in which the recipient must opt in to be a part of the list, and then take another action to confirm that he or she is the person authorizing the mailing. This usually entails clicking on a hyperlink in a confirmation email. Lists obtained simply by combing the Internet are often regarded as spam and will not be effective. It can also turn off many would-be customers.
Buy or Rent: Which Is Best?
Most experts agree that owning the list rather than renting is the best practice. Renting can be less expensive and less time-consuming since the email marketing firm will handle all tasks associated with the campaign. However, there is usually a limit as to how many times they will send to this same list for the rental price. Names on the list may have been sold many times over, which will make it an ineffective exercise.
Following these guidelines, as well as asking around for referrals, will get your campaign off to a good start.
About the Author
Samantha Gluck has had over a decade of experience helping businesses better focus their Web sites to enhance ecommerce and Internet presence by utilizing Web analytics, relevant design elements, and marketing campaigns.