How to Build an Email Marketing Contact List that Doesn’t Go to Waste

How to Build an Email Marketing Contact List that Doesn’t Go to Waste
How to Build an Email Marketing Contact List that Doesn’t Go to Waste

When it comes to email marketing, the golden rule applies a million-fold. Do unto others as you’d want others to do unto you.

Here’s the story: every morning, hundreds of millions of people activate their smartphones and scroll through emails that have come in. Many of them will click through, engage, comment, and write back for more info. Plenty will leave but remember you. There’s also the disappointing truth: some will unsubscribe. (I’ve done it on the receiving end — and so have you (I hope.))

Despite a few unsubscribes, email marketing is one of the most effective strategies for direct marketers across industries, and incorporating email marketing into your event’s marketing strategy will remain one of the best ways to deliver content and bring back more business.

Email marketing itself is a creative affair, and your creative content will be put to the test each time you send out an email blast. However, before we jump to the creative stuff, there is a very practical first step you must take. What your event chooses to do with email marketing will be an ongoing process. Email Marketing is a development. That’s why building up your contact list first and ensuring that list is a legitimate one will save you a lot of wasted time, creative energy, and money in the long run.

We’re going to cover all the reasons you should investigate email marketing to sell more tickets and why the first priority should be building a strong list.

Essential Facts on Email Marketing

Building and earning a legit list is the first step to success in email marketing. Here are some facts every marketer needs to know before.

1. Never buy a list.
We have to say this first. Spam seriously sucks and strong brands simply don’t need it. When you send out an email blast to people who just don’t want to read about your event, it ruins your email campaign’s legitimacy. If you’re concerned you accidentally spammed your list, check out HubSpot’s “How to Create Email Newsletters that Don’t Suck”.

2. Email Marketing is effective
And it should be fun. Email marketing when done right will both inform and entertain. A study by DemandGen found that the revenue impact from consistent and continual email marketing was “moderate to significant.” Many new marketers who’ve started a website believe that their main strategy will be social marketing and SEO. These are great techniques too, but they are also dependent on brand awareness and can be much more expensive than email marketing — that is, if you’re going after pay-per-click or Facebook ads. With emails, the ROI can be as much as 3800%.

3. Mobile Optimized or Bust
According to Campaign Monitor, 50% of emails are opened on a mobile device. What’s more, 23% of visitors from a mobile device will come back to that email after opening it the first time. Not optimizing for mobile means throwing away time and resources.

4. Getting repeat business is waaay easier than getting new business.
And once you have influential customers that love your brand, they’ll do the job for you. To earn these kinds of customers, you’ll want to build up your content. Customer Marketing means you’re not just getting new business, but you’re working to retain customer relationships. Think about your blog, your website, and construct the type of persona you want to attract.

5. Not updating your contact list loses you money
Your email contact list degrades in value about 22.5% each year. This is what we really want to talk about. Neglecting your email contact list means that you run the risk of burning your sender score and wasting time trying to connect with people who gave you a bunk email address.

What Should You Do With an Email List

Don’t let it be static. Effective email marketing means working the list you have. What type of content will get you click-throughs, engagement, and conversions? Let’s brainstorm a few.

1. The Newsletter.
The email marketing newsletter is your event’s pre-party and after party. It gets people psyched to go to your event. And for those flakey friends who forget (whom you love) it reminds them they do in fact have plans next weekend. The newsletter is also one of the best ways to keep the fire going after a great event. Tell people how big the turnout was. Recap who was at the event and what happened. Did you make an After Video of your event? Embed it in your newsletter. Get past your previous customers to follow you on Instagram, tag photos from the event, and share the news of your awesomeness with friends.

Be sure you don’t get spammy. The best way to do this? Every time you send out a newsletter, the intention should clear within seconds.

2. News Digests that Grow your Network
People usually only think of email marketing as a way to drive direct sales. But let’s consider an alternative way of looking at email marketing.

A news digest lets you light the stage of your industry with your own unique take. Not only does a news digest deliver useful information to your audience, it also helps expand your network to other influencers. It works like this. Love a certain blogger? Include a link to their article in your newsfeed. You can provide some commentary or context. Other fans of this blogger will be able to bond and engage with you over your similar interests. This might mean sending traffic to another website — but customers will remember you as the person who sent them. This is an important sphere of influence if you’re sending awesome content.

When your next event comes out, you better believe they’ll be watching. What’s more, if this blogger catches wind that you’re interested in her content then you’ve just built a connection with an influencer.

3. Special Offers
Need to sell some last minute tickets but don’t think comping them is right for you? Not a problem. Sometimes offering a special promotion for customers can help you fill up a venue and get more buzz, especially when you use Social Deals.

According to research by the Direct Marketing Association, 38% of responders say they subscribe to an email list in order to hear about special offers and special pricing.

Just make sure it’s the right kind of buzz. No one wants to be seen as ticket dealer of cheap seats.

4. VIP Invites
That’s right — VIP status. Rolling out the red carpets for your event’s biggest fans can be a great decision for marketers, seeing that everyone loves a random act of kindness. These people are the ones who will Snapchat, Instagram, Tweet — all the social marketing your event needs but you may not have somebody staffed to do it for you.

In MailChimp, go to your most successful campaigns and see who engaged with your email the most and add them to a new contact list. You can send out another email blast to this curated group with an invite back stage, reserved seating, or a comped glass of wine once they arrive. Taking these steps will help to get people through the door and having a great time at your event.

How Successful Business Grow an Email Marketing Contact List

How do people sign up for your contact list? There are several ways. There are also some ways you should not look at contact list building.

To offer some perspective, I’m going to share some stories of when email marketing worked really well on me.

1. Signing up at the Door: Adobe Books
A book shop near me in San Francisco often hosts events — a reading series, musicians will play, plus they’ll show off local art in the space. I first fell in love with Adobe Book’s cozy space after shopping around for books. I signed up for their newsletter, which is basically just a list of their upcoming events. It’s simple but that they have this list of customers, they can follow up with further marketing.

So how did they do it? It’s funny that in Silicon Valley, the most effective way to catch my eye was just a paper list. I was just buying some paperbacks when my affinity for small businesses that host cool events got the best of me. I was happy to offer up my email address for these folks. You could recreate this set up when someone checks in at the door for your show.

2. Email Marketing to a Past Customer: Warby Parker
Nowadays, when someone buys something he’ll usually need to share his email address. The business can then use that email address (in addition to confirmation emails and paperless receipt delivery) for marketing purposes. But wait — it’s gotta be good otherwise your sender score could take a hit.
About a year ago, I needed to buy new glasses. I was moody about the rigmarole I knew I’d need to go through. However, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy Warby Parker made it for me to get a new pair.

As a blogger and marketer though, what really got me was the incredible content they delivered to my inbox. It’s entertaining, it’s light, and the way they show off their products is so effective I stay subscribed. Right before Halloween Warby Parker sent out different costume ideas with the subject line, “Attention costume procrastinators”. The email consisted of different costumes that require glasses. Among them were “Carl” from Up, Harry Potter, and Arthur the aardvark.


Even though I don’t intend to buy a pair of glasses for a while, their brand comes to mind when people mention glasses (and now, Halloween or the Pixar movie, Up). This means customers like me are more likely to recommend the product to friends and family. Then again, who knows! Maybe one day sooner than I think, I’ll be open to trying a new look.

3. Newsletter Sign up: Mixpanel

You’ve probably seen on every website ever an email sign up form. It asks for your email address (and maybe a name) and it’s completely option. “Who signs up for those?” you may ask.

If you’re into tech news, you’ve probably heard splashes from Mixpanel, the data analytics software that helps power product direction for some of the biggest and smallest software companies. Their blog, The Signal, offers a great perspective on trends in technology. For a while, I was just checking back on the blog to hear the latest tech news and hear stories about influential businesses. To save me some time, I did it. I signed up for an email list.

You may not get people to sign up right away. If you’d like to include a sign up form on your page, using services like MailChimp, decide if a static form or a pop-up is right for you.

4. Pros and Cons of Content Gating: HubSpot

Content gating is what marketers call special content that requires an email address to access. Marketers disagree on this technique. Some businesses do an incredible job at it. HubSpot being one of them. For the cost of my email address, I can access their extensive library of marketing strategy that is heavily researched and reviewed. In other words, it’s worth it to me to unlock that gated content with my email info.

That said, I have found ebooks and articles on Google that require an email address. When I don’t know the brand, I feel really ticklish about handing over my email address. While I’ve done it with some brands, I feel pretty disappointed if a salesperson emails or calls me right away. Likewise, if the content doesn’t offer anything special then I’m just going to unsubscribe from their email list.

5. Buying a List: No Brand in Particular (Because Without Exception, I Unsubscribe)

I know I’m just one person on the internet. But when I get cold email newsletters from people I never request an email from, I hit unsubscribe. It’s easy to do and I sleep just fine knowing that bad marketing was stopped.

Building Your List is Step One For Great Email Marketing

Working on your email contact list early means you can do more effective marketing later on. You don’t need to have a huge list to start tailoring your content. And this is a fact — you have to start somewhere.

Check out Universe’s guide to starting a blog and building content that drives business. By having a blog that connects with customers and meets their values, you can get ticket buyers back on your website or event listing.

Did you lead an awesome email campaign that drove more business? We look forward to hearing more about it. Leave us a comment!

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