Social Media

An Email List Isn’t Just for Emailing

An email list is one of the central components of many marketing campaigns, beyond email marketing. Having email addresses is the difference between targeted messages versus scatter. I’ll explain in this post.

The best email lists contain more info than addresses. Tools such as MailChimp are immensely powerful and can serve as a secondary analytics source, depending on what you track. Commonly called “merge fields,” these are data points saved on a subscriber level. They can be anything you’d want to include in an email message, such as a first and last name or location.

Additionally, you can track ecommerce performance by subscribers via merge fields that retain, for example, total purchases, date of the most recent order, total number of orders, average order value, and so on. Thus an email list can be a detailed customer file.

Having email addresses is the difference between a targeted message versus scatter.

Facebook and Google

Email addresses greatly help the performance of Facebook ads via lookalike audiences. If you didn’t have email addresses, you wouldn’t be able to find, say, 2 million prospects within four hours. It would take weeks or months to narrow the targeting on Facebook to get remotely close to a lookalike audience.

Furthermore, if you have merge fields, you can create mini-segments — such as high average-order customers or customers with two or more purchases — and create lookalikes from those audiences. That’s not possible without a robust email list.

The process for targeting Google Ads is similar to Facebook lookalike audiences. An advertiser uploads email addresses and Google will match them to account holders where possible. Like Facebook, Google allows mini-segments to remarket and to find prospects that fit the traits of your best customers. Importantly, on Google you can layer those audiences against any keyword, so long as it’s relevant to what you’re advertising.

Other advertising platforms utilize email addresses, too. But, in my experience, Google and Facebook are the big two in terms of capitalizing on emails. The key, again, is the quality of your list and what you’re saving in a subscriber’s file.

For small businesses especially, an email service provider is also a customer-relationship-management tool. Take MailChimp, for example, which I’m familiar with. It can track seemingly anything you throw at it. For example, if you wanted to track when a subscriber initiates a high-value action on your website, it’s possible to add that as an event in MailChimp, just as you would in Google Analytics.

Setting up that event in MailChimp can be technical. You’ll likely need a developer. But I mention it here to stress the importance of tracking everything in your email system that you think is valuable, similar to your analytics platform. Ecommerce companies don’t typically need to add metrics such as sessions or page views. But other metrics, such as button clicks and chat engagement, should be tracked as they help segment your advertising efforts — especially remarketing.

… in my experience, Google and Facebook are the big two in terms of capitalizing on emails.

More Data

To be sure, the purpose of merge fields in an email platform is to send more personal and customized emails to a subscriber, not necessarily to improve the performance of Facebook and Google ads. Regardless, the more data you keep for each subscriber, the better your overall marketing performance will be.

Remember, companies with E.U. customers and subscribers must adhere to GDPR rules for what they track and how they disclose it. But U.S.-based merchants that cater to domestic consumers should be mindful of GDPR rules, too. Similar regulations will come here sooner than later.

Michael Stancil
Michael Stancil
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