The Power of a List

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The Power of a List



We’ve heard that “content is king.” That’s only half right. If no one is reading, clicking, or listening, what good is content?

The article is about the real king of digital marketing: a quality list. This is your most valuable marketing asset. It’s the fuel for your promotions you’ll come to rely on and the ability to be able to move quickly that you’re craving.

A quality list doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, persistence, and consistency. Here’s how to get one:


“Content is king, but distribution is queen. And she wears the pants.”

– Jonathan Perelman


The Power of Content:

How many customers does your Garden Center have per year? 1,000? 20,000?

Now, what % of your sales area is not only a customer, but an interested enough customer to want to hear about your products and events? 1%? 5%?

Now… what % of people in your sales area have questions about gardening that you can answer? Questions that will drive them to open your emails, learn about your Garden Center for the first time, and either sign up, check you out, or remember your name? I’m guessing it’s a lot higher % than your interested customers.

Bottom line: If your emails are about your Garden Center, the only ones who will want to see them are engaged customers. If they answer common, persistent gardening questions, you’ll break outside the barriers of your customer base and find people who don’t know your business, but will be glad you introduced them.

The power of content is to take your messaging beyond your Garden Center to reach an audience based on interest.


How to Sign Them Up

The best way to build a quality list is the kind that drives Owners crazy: slowly and consistently. Here are the best ways:

In-Store: ask them at the till, or have someone circulating with a clipboard or ipad. If you have a loyalty card to tie in, all the better. Canadians: you don’t need double opt-in if they sign up in store; they face that they’re customers is implied consent. Just make sure to have some documentation.

On your Website: create a strong Call-to-Action for sign up across your site. “Strong” means branded and not a generic “Sign Up for our Email.” Tell them what they’ll get, how often they’ll get it, and give it an intriguing twist. It takes time; a sign-up rate of 3% is considered strong.

Here’s an example: If you’re an urban GC with a niche in terrariums and workshops, you might say: “Weekly Inspiration for your Urban Jungle.” If you’re a rural tree nursery, you might want to use, “Learn to Care for your Yard in Less Time with Bi-weekly emails.”

On Social: A post saying “sign up now” on Facebook will get you nowhere. People are saturated with that. The best way to drive sign ups from new customer segments is paid, targeted boosting on Facebook. Create quality blogs or other content, boost them to the people who’ll be interested in them, and drive that traffic back to your website and email sign-up.


How NOT to Build a List

A high quality email address is from someone who gives you permission to, and expects you to, deliver them emails at regular, measured time intervals. Combine that with an interest in the content you’re talking about, and you’re on your way to a new customer.

If someone isn’t signing up wanting to hear from you, they aren’t worth signing up. Yes, I’m talking about all those get-a-list-quick schemes like winning a prize at a trade show or a content on-line. A thousand will sign-up, you’ll pop the champagne, and most of them will bounce like rubber balls with the first email.

And don’t buy lists. Ever.



What to Expect

If you’re just starting out in email marketing, and/or if you’re working with a small, in-house generated list, expect a very high Open Rate. You’re talking to your hardcore base, so it’s common for 40% or more of people to check out what you’re saying.

The bad news is that you’re preaching to the choir. Lists of hardcore customers are effective at reminding people about your sales and events, but it’s not challenging you to bring in new customer segments.

As you grow, you’ll start to see a lower Open Rate as you reach out to fair-weather customers and those only interested in your content. This is when your content planning becomes critical. You’ll need to know what questions they want you to answer in order to stay engaged.