In order to email someone, one of the key components you must have is their email address. There are a variety of ways to obtain email addresses, some right, some very wrong, so I’ll go over how to build your email list. I consider this one of the first steps before starting any design or content work, since those will just sit doing nothing until you have a list to contact.
SPAM and You
According to the Federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, you actually can purchase email lists. I really do not recommend this for a few reasons:
- People don’t like unsolicited email, which will help you to build a very negative reputation.
- Most email marketing systems will not allow you to use purchased lists, so it will most likely be a waste of money.
- It’s really easy to build your SCUBA email marketing list, so why suffer from #1 and #2?
So what does the Federal CAN-SPAM Act say? Basically, you have to send from a valid email address and provide legitimate unsubscribe options, both of which are basic features of any email marketing software.
List Building the Right Way
Email is primarily a tool to stay in touch with previous customers – your SCUBA students, dive shop customers or resort visitors. If you’ve been collecting email addresses all along, you’re in luck. If you haven’t been, I’ll give you some ideas for how to easily start collecting them and how to get them based on whatever information you have collected in the past.
I Already Have a List!
Great! Your work is almost done. So we don’t come across as spammers, I suggest your first email (I’ll explain what system I recommend and how to use it soon) read something along these lines:
Due to your [participation in one of our classes/attendance at one of our events/recent purchase in our shop/recent stay at our resort], we would like to continue to share with you periodic promotional information. We will be sending out a [weekly/monthly/quarterly] newsletter highlighting SCUBA information and events we think you may be interested in. If, however, you are not interested in staying in touch, please feel free to use this link to unsubscribe immediately. Thanks blah blah blah
By introducing your plans this way, you accomplish a few things:
- You set realistic expectations. If they know you’re going to email once a month, they won’t complain about the frequency if you send it once a month.
- You let them know why you’ll be contacting them. They may be a former student or customer and you just want to let them know about the wonderful world of diving.
- You let them know they can quit easily. If they know who you are, why you’re contacting them and that they can make it stop if they ever need to, people are actually more likely to stay on your list.
I Have Nothing!
Have you ever had a student fill out a student record file? If so, you’re in luck! You at least have an address. I know PADI has a place for an email address as well, so hopefully you had your students include that. Type them into your database, send them the first email from above and away you go.
No, I Really Have Nothing
We can’t fix the past, but we can prepare for the future. Make sure you are stressing to your future students the importance of giving you their email address on their folder. Have customers in your shop or on your resort sign up for your mailing list. Simple, deliverable promises of wanting to let them know when you are having specials on classes, gear or trips will get most people to willingly provide an email address.
Use Your Web Site
If you aren’t collecting email addresses on your web site, you are missing a great opportunity. I’ll show you later how to create an easy form complete with automated responses to make your life even easier so you can completely capitalize on that.
Nick, Where’s Your Email List?
How quickly we forget, it’s the email icon over on the right side of the page near the top as mentioned in the article, SCUBA Marketing is Social. If you hadn’t noticed, I tell you how often you can expect to hear from me, the general idea of the content I’ll be sharing and what I intend on doing with your email address. This is one of the great things about email marketing and SCUBA blogs, you can tie to two together to stay in touch with your customers automagically.