Email Marketing's Sage Lesson -- Lists Are Best Built The Hard Way

There are truisms in life that are reassuring to also find in digital marketing. The mantra that us Gen X and Baby Boomers were brought up with -- that results come from hard graft -- appears to be backed up by the email marketing industry's experience in building lists.

In an industry that can all too often appear to be the ultimate in quick wins, email continually outperforms other channels in ROI -- yet it turns out it is a lot harder to get right than hitting the "buy" button on an ad word or search campaign. The latest research from Ascend2 in MarketingProfs shows a direct link between the effectiveness that a channel has in boosting email lists and the amount of work each requires to perform well.

The top three channels for growing an email lists, those surveyed agreed, are social, content and SEO. Social and content are a little way out in front with the backing for 45% and 42% of those surveyed, while SEO is just behind on 38%.

When it came to which channels required the most work -- you guessed it -- we have a top three of content, SEO and social. So the top three gets mixed up slightly, but it's still the same top three. The channels that provide the greatest uplift in email sign-ups are also those that require the most effort. 

Interestingly, the top reason for growing an email list was the rather obvious strategy of wanting to be able to email more people, but just behind this, in second place, comes improving content relevance. In other words, email marketers are not only growing lists --  they are doing so through channels which ensure people are highly relevant to those lists. Social, content and SEO are by definition excellent channels for people in a niche base around a group they belong to, an article they have engaged with or a search term they have typed into Google.

So if there is a moral to this story, it would probably be the reassuring message that hard work pays off. That's not just in growing lists, but doing so in a way that adds relevant people to those lists.

This isn't about shortcuts or short-term gain, but long-term graft to make sure you're speaking to the increasing number of the people who are relevant for your products and services and the messages you choose to promote them.

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