How to Gain Customers Through Email Marketing

The first tick box on how-to gain customers through email marketing is by acquiring a substantial number of email addresses. But as email is typically your first point of contact when it comes to continuing your relationship with a consumer, it is a vitally important to get it right. gain customers through email marketing From the get go you need to make sure that the relationship you form with the customer is a good one. Make a good impression by retrieving email addresses from your customers in a manner they accept and appreciate by asking them to opt-in to receive mail from your company, maintaining an engaged database for future send-outs.

However building these lists is very time consuming and can be an expensive task for businesses, so some companies purchase email lists from other companies in hopes of making a sale - despite the fact that it’s illegal. Vendors will sell or rent email listings - generally a collection of email addresses - that they have obtained from a third party collection. The consumer has at some point given their email address to a company who has then sold this email address along.

Although it can be quite tempting for vendors to go this route, there can be a lot to lose.

So, what are some of the pros and cons to buying an email list?


  • Quick and easy access to email addresses for you to start your marketing strategy. It is a shortcut that’ll give you an immediate audience – even though being illegally acquired means your open rates will be appalling.


  • The process is totally illegal; consumers have the right to choose what reaches their inbox. Penalties are increasing for companies who purchase their email lists and once POPI comes in to effect it will be strictly regulated.

  • By not adhering to ISP and email guidelines, the purchased list can harm the delivery to inboxes. Senders like this become blacklisted as a result of recipients hastily marking their email as spam.

  • There will be a high bounce back rate. These lists are often old and are not updated, meaning you could be wasting time sending emails to addresses that aren’t active and often these emails will get flagged as spam due to the high complaint rate sending to these users.

  • ROI will be very low, as the data is often not targeted or relevant, based on the fact that the list could have been sold numerous times to various companies.

  • Email lists for sale offer short term results with a very negative effect on your brand as a whole in the long term.

The overall consensus is that people do not want to receive emails from senders they do not know, nor do they want someone to invade their inbox. It is a quick and easy fix if you need to meet your marketing objectives in a hurry, however it will not be a sustainable marketing strategy.

A better option is to take the time to build your own list. If you can give your customers extremely easy access - and a good enough reason - to sign up to your email lists, which shouldn’t cost a fortune to set up initially, then you can put most of your time and effort into creating remarkable email content that recipients want to see in their inbox.

Pros and cons of building your own email list:


  • The most important part of building your own list is you can segment it while you build it.

  • Building a list organically (opting-in) is conducive to keeping a high delivery rate.

  • Opt-ins lead to higher open and click-through rates as users have indicated that they’d like to hear from you and are thus more likely to interact with your brand.

  • The process of acquiring the email addresses organically offers greater ROI because the engagement levels are already far greater than that of a purchased list.

  • It supports other complimentary online and offline marketing endeavors, such as social media and SMS campaigns, offering greater opportunities for brand awareness.

  • The lists can be well-maintained over time as all the information can be segmented and targeted from the beginning (which is explained further on in this article).


  • It takes time and money to build the lists organically.

So how exactly do you get people to join your mailing list? Here are a few tips:

  • Don’t focus primarily on sales. Target non-buying customers, as they will far outweigh your buying customers and so are worth enticing to join your email list.

  • Offer an incentive. The quickest way to grow your email database is by offering consumers an incentive to join, such as a discount or voucher. Work with another retailer and send out double sign up forms, for instance running a competition in partnership with another company and then sending out email sign up forms. Link your signup forms to your social media pages, as the more exposure you get the better.

  • Be innovative. Growing your email marketing list organically tends to be a timely creative process; but creating the list tends to pay off in the long run. The creativity in building an email list lies mainly in coming up with innovative ways to make that initial contact with the consumer and make them want to sign up for emails.

  • Consider your reputation. Buying an email list can boost open rates and sales instantly, however it cannot do the same for your company in the long term. One of the fundamental differences between buying and building lists is the effect it has on the reputation of the sender. The reputation of your brand and how it is perceived will affect the interaction consumers have with your brand and products.

  • Focus on relationship building. Once you have acquired the email data and made the first point of contact with the consumer, whether it be a sign up form or an opt-in button, the next step is to immediately start your email marketing relationship with the consumer; and what you do from here will determine how effective your email marketing strategy will be.

  • Segment, monitor and update your lists constantly. Once you have built up a substantial database of emails, you need to decide how you relay information on to the consumer. Email list management needs to be a strategic process, mainly because you want the open-rate to be high. Don’t forget to segment and organize the list from the get go. Segmentation is one of those processes marketers need to go through in order to reach their consumers successfully.

According to the MarketingSherpa 2013 Email Marketing Benchmark Report, 32% of marketers say segmentation is one of their organization's top objectives in the next 12 months. Furthermore, 52% of marketers say that they need to improve on their email database segmentation. More and more companies are coming to the realisation that in order to engage with their consumers on a more personal level they need to go through the process of segmentation.

Here are a few pointers about segmentation and why it is important:

  • You need to realise that not every consumer is the same. B2C and B2B should never fall under the same category. For email marketing there should never be a one size fits all approach. Rather you should identify how you can adapt a certain email campaign to different consumers. You need to determine what your various segments of targeted consumers should be.

  • Consumers are at different stages of the sales cycle. During segmentation you need to understand that consumers who have signed up to be part of your mailing list service are not necessarily all at the same stage of the sales cycle. You need to take advantage of where the consumer is to see what they could possibly need.

  • You need to utilize the demographic data. Information people give when signing up to your email list is vital. Data such as when the consumer’s birthday is could help create an email specific to their birthday. Other demographics such as gender, age and where they live could help create customized emails too, for example about local events and promotions. For gender related emails you could possibly send out emails regarding Women’s Day or Father’s Day.

  • A continuation from demographic data is to get as much personal data from the consumer as possible. This information could be retrieved from the consumer in the form of a questionnaire, with the incentive to take the questionnaire being the possibility of winning a competition. This information could include how much the consumer earns, what appliances they have in their home, what their hobbies are and whether they use a mobile device or a laptop to open their emails. You need to take advantage of information like this. Mobile users can receive emails that are time sensitive, for instance if there is a special on at a clothing store near them.

  • Improve your email reputation. Creating email campaigns consumers actually want to receive will make their relationship with the brand a good one. They need to feel as though they matter and their feedback contributes to how the company operates. Targeted emails are naturally more engaging, therefore they will have much higher click through rates.

The importance of segmentation lies in the fact that to reach your consumer you cannot send stock standard emails, you need to constantly update information about the consumer. You need to alter your emails all the time so that they are relevant to the consumer at the time that they receive them. A consumer does not want to get an email about possible additions to their basket after they have already made the purchase. Segmentation of an email list and responsive emails need to happen in a timely manner so that they reach the consumer as soon as they engage with the company.

Email marketing and segmentation in particular can boost sales. Once you have segmented your email list you can reap the benefits. So what emails are actually bringing in the most sales?

  • Promotional emails are often enticing and engaging, consumers can never turn down a good deal!

  • New arrival emails are just as important. When a new item or service arises it is always best to spread the word immediately. These consumers will feel as though they have received exclusive information.

  • Holiday emails are another way to interact with consumers so that during their vacation they are still thinking about your company and purchasing products.

  • Re-order emails are a great way to ensure that your consumers will keep coming back, for example an email for products that need replenishing. When your consumer has fallen off the sale grid, send them emails to entice them and re-gain their trust.

  • Industry news and tips emails provide you with a platform to establish your authority as a company, or educate consumers on how to use the products they’ve purchased from you. You must let the consumer know that you are educated about your products/ services.

Even though acquiring email addresses is an important task, the ‘what next’ factor should be just as important. In order to ensure your conversion rates increase, you have to be constantly on the ball and ready to come up with a range of customised and engaging ways to reach the consumer. The basic principle here is to gather as much granular personal information as you can to use in your communications, and then to integrate this into a relevant programme for engaging with your customers. The more you know about someone, the more you can offer.