Let’s discover in 5 steps how to create a contact list plus enhance and expand it thanks to a database building strategy.
While searching Google for instructions on creating a mailing list, almost all results focus on operations provided by Gmail or other email providers.
Such a do-it-yourself solution is unthinkable for a company, unless the list of recipients is particularly restricted and will remain so.
A company’s mailing list is much more complex. It is a constantly evolving organism that must develop over time, tending toward expansion.
In this post we will see how to create a mailing list from a small database of contacts. But in order to get a mindset, let’s start from the basics.
What is a mailing list?
A mailing list is nothing more than a collection of email addresses that receive email messages from the sender’s domain where they have registered.
When mailing is non-governmental, the consent to use email addresses and process personal data is ruled by a specific regulation. We are sure that you have heard about GDPR over the past few months. GDPR is a European law that regulates this type of activity. The invitation is to get to know its fundamental points.
Until a few years ago, the mailing list was conceived as a single container of recipient addresses to which the sender sent the same email. This is an approach that the Americans call one size fits all, and (in theory), we should consider outdated.
Today, a mailing list is a varied body with stratified interior groups and segments. It is created by companies to diversify mailings and, consequently, forward campaigns in line with the characteristics, interests and needs of each recipient.
Here is how we can summarise the change:
Mailing list → Segments list
The elements for creating a contact list
Some you will already have, others you will not:
- Professional submission platform
- Contact base (even if small)
- Database building tool
- Strategic approach
How to create a contact list
We have identified 5 steps, some of which are simple, immediate and operational whereas others are more complex, strategic and operative in the medium to long term. Let’s start.
1. Choose the sending platform
This is the deus ex machina of any Email Marketing activity and use of mailing lists. There are three types of advantages (one complementary to all the others) offered by a sending platform:
A professional infrastructure reaches high delivery rates and guarantees senders the necessary protection from possible spam and phishing interferences, and more generally from any fraudulent use of emails. All of this is due to the certification and constant monitoring of mailings.
To be seen in point 3. A sending platform holds many tools focused on various Email Marketing-related activities: from automation to results tracking and database building, which we will see shortly.
Imagine sending a text-based email campaign to your mailing list or, on the other hand, a visual email. It is a big difference. A sending platform provides you with a drag-and-drop editor where you can create emails and newsletters with mobile-optimised professional design and a few simple drag-and-drop operations. The editor automatically writes the HTML code for you.
2. Upload your mailing list: create lists and groups
The first step consists of loading the contact mailing list inside the platform, no matter its size. You can do this manually by importing every single email address or by uploading CSV/text, Excel or XML files.
Once loaded, you will have created your first list, which is nothing more than an independent set of messages, recipients, settings, statistics, etc.
As anticipated above, the list is a macro-container that can be subdivided into infinite groups to create different sending categories. Recipients can belong to multiple groups at the same time.
- Group potential clients
- Group best potential clients
- Group newsletter
- Group promotions
- Group inactive recipients
- Group foreign recipients
- Group Facebook contacts
- Group B2B market
3. Develop a database building strategy
Once the mailing list has been created, it is a matter of implementing one or more strategies that constantly augment the list with new recipients. It is one of the golden rules of Email Marketing: the database is an ever-changing and renewing organism, tending toward expansion.
To get to making this activity systematic, there are some dedicated tools that are all available in MailUp. Each tool is focused on a specific point of contact with the user. They allow you to convert the user into a recipient depending on whether the user comes closer to your reality via social network, website, at fairs, events or even in stores. Let’s take a look:
Registration form and multi-channel pop-up
What is a website if not the digital home of a company? While not showing an immediate willingness to purchase, those who reach your site are showing interest and a certain degree of involvement. They are likely to be interested in subscribing to the newsletter.
Ensure that your site offers the possibility to subscribe to the newsletter from the homepage or on specific pages (perhaps the most visited). With MailUp you can create two types of formats to request registration:
- The subscription forms that are customisable in detail: header, fields, drop-down menus, buttons and check boxes. In just a few drag-and-drop operations, you will get the URL that will link to a call to action on your site.
- Multichannel subscription pop-up: you do not even need the simple drag-and-drop operations. In just a few clicks, define the style of the pop-up through color, location, language and header. Once you have created the pop-up, you can get the code to add to the site, blog or any other type of page. The recipient simply needs a flag in the appropriate box to automatically insert the email or SMS field (or both). Here is how we used it for our site:
MailUp and the Facebook Lead Ads
The Facebook Lead Ads are a type of ad that allows you to collect subscriptions to newsletters, events or requests for a quote. In short, everything that passes from a form directly on Facebook.
The LeadsBridge connector allows you to automatically convert every new lead coming from Facebook into a new mailing list subscriber. The integration hooks the new lead that has been generated to the MailUp platform, avoiding manual file transfers from one platform to another.
Social networks are essential to expand the mailing list, and Facebook is undoubtedly the one that catalyses more traffic. Thanks to an app, you can insert an application form on your Facebook page.
In a few drag-and-drop operations, you can create a form with a background, header and custom logo by selecting the fields and choosing the list where to direct the new subscribers.
The Jade application for iPad
Why create a subscription form on the iPad? This is done in order to keep augmenting the mailing list even if offline, e.g. at trade shows, events or even at the shop. These are all places that can convert opportunities into database building.
The application is called Jade and creates a personalised subscription form on the iPad, linked to the MailUp account. It is a fundamental tool for digitising the entire contact-gathering process, avoiding the transcription of names and addresses from paper forms to the platform.
4. Set the double opt-in
Also called “confirmed opt-in“, the double opt-in is the criterion that requires the user to add a further confirmation click to complete the subscription.
It essentially works like this: once the form has been completed, the user must click on the button in the confirmation email the was automatically sent to him/her. This method ensures that the email address entered is valid and actually belongs to the user.
Let’s briefly see the advantages of a double opt-in, then return to this blog post to deepen the subject.
- Best engagement and willingness to purchase
Those who consent twice to receive your communications will be more likely to show interest in your future campaigns with more purchase willingness and fidelity.
- Less bounce, more deliverability
Through verifying the email addresses, the double opt-in system allows you to minimise the bounce rate, which has a negative impact on many brands’ reputations and causes problems with deliverability.
- Less spam alerts
It is unlikely that a recipient who made a double confirmation for your communication is going to report your email as spam.
5. Assign a person to manage the mailing list
This sounds trivial, but it is essential that the whole chain of activity be followed with care and punctuality, especially during the following phases: creation of emails, sending and subsequent tracking of results.
This does not mean that the administrator is the only person to have a say about the creation of texts and the choice of images and graphics. A very useful tool in this regard is Collaboration, a tool that facilitates team sharing and approval of projects related to emails.
It essentially works like this:
- Create the campaign
- Share it with those you wish
- Your collaborators add notes and comments with a click on any graphic and textual element. Each comment gives rise to an ordered and easy to follow thread, which can be resolved when everyone agrees.
Following these points, your simple mailing list will be converted into a real strategy aimed at constant database expansion.
This is without forgetting the managerial part. In fact, MailUp automatically processes email addresses to individuate:
Identified and categorized by type of error.
Singled out and ignored in the following mailing.
- Double addresses
Deleted when importing.
- Wrong addresses
Displayed for further control.
The resources and potential of Email Marketing are very high. It is advisable to start immediately with a professional submission platform. MailUp is free for 30 days. You can try it, get familiar with its functions, then choose if it is right for you.