Building a quality email list is a cornerstone of an effective digital marketing strategy. While having a relevant following on social media channels is crucial, to reach them you must play in another platform’s sandbox. An email list is something you own. There are no algorithm changes, terms of service, or fickle user bases. Social media platforms fall in and out of grace year-over-year, but people hold onto their email accounts for much longer.
Like a digital social security number, email addresses have become powerful personal identifiers. Digital advertising platforms are increasingly allowing marketers to zero in on users based solely on their email addresses; with each new way you can target someone outside of their inbox, the importance of building an email list has increased.
Below, we've put together a guide outlining every possible way you can advertise to someone using their email address. As new platforms open their targeting to include email addresses (what's up, LinkedIn?), we'll add them to the list. If there's any we are missing, please hit us up on Twitter.
1) Facebook Custom Audiences
Nearly everyone you want to target is on Facebook. The world's biggest digital network allows marketers to target their ads not only based on interests and demographics, but individual email addresses as well. Though Facebook's Custom Audiences tool, you can upload a list of contacts; the network matches the list with email addresses from its users' profiles, and will show ads only to members of your list.
Facebook is beautifully flexible. If your list is large, you can narrow its focus to specific ages or interests within the group. If the network matches fewer than 1,000 users, you can expand your reach by creating a lookalike audience. The resulting target group will include members of your uploaded list, along with other Facebook users who exhibit the same characteristics. Whether you scale up or down, your email list can create a valuable foundation for your next Facebook campaign.
2) Instagram Video and Image Ads
Facebook's advertising platform also acts as the parent platform for Instagram, meaning you can use all of the features of Custom Audiences on this visual medium. Instagram allows you to post ads that include video, images, or "carousels" (multiple images or videos that users can scroll through). If your audience matches that of the average Instagram user, and your business relies on effective visuals to stand out, this is an opportunity worth exploring, especially if you are already up and running on Facebook. It's worth noting that Instagram recently surpassed 500 million users and continues to grow.
3) Twitter Tailored Audiences
Twitter, always aiming to match Facebook's capabilities for marketers, offers a Tailored Audiences feature that works much like Custom Audiences. Upload your list, and watch the network match email addresses with users on its platform that will be able to see your ad. Just like Facebook, Twitter also includes a lookalike feature, allowing you to target users similar to those on your email list.
Once you upload a list, you can use it either to promote your account or to sponsor a tweet. The first works particularly well if you are looking to increase audience awareness of an already vibrant Twitter presence, while the second helps get specific marketing messages out to your email list.
4) Google Customer Match
Last September, Google announced that it would add to its available targeting methods, and began to allow marketers to take advantage of list-based targeting opportunities. Naturally, the service - called Customer Match - only works with signed-in Google users. If one of the members of your list performs a search or checks their Gmail while signed in to a Google property, they will begin to see your ads.
5) YouTube TrueView Ads
Since the September announcement, marketers can use Customer Match to promote video ads on YouTube, targeted to their audience. If your content strategy includes video, marketing that video on the world's largest video sharing platform can be a cost-effective way to raise brand awareness. You can place TrueView ads both before and in the middle of regular YouTube videos, and you'll only be charged when a member of your target audience actually watches more than 5 seconds—a longer minimum than Facebook's 3 second requirement.
6) CRM Retargeting
If the idea of pulling a list of contacts dynamically from your CRM and targeting ads toward them piques your interest, good news: this service is available, from companies like AdRoll. AdRoll allows you to program ads on Facebook and Twitter through Custom/Tailored Audiences directly from their platform, while they simultaneously place your display ads on Google, Yahoo, AdNexus, and more.
In fact, CRM retargeting offers perhaps the best lesson in the multitude of ways available to use your audience's email addresses for targeting: don't limit yourself to one marketing channel. Once you have collected your audience's email addresses, target them in as many ways as you can.
Research shows that it takes between 6 and 8 marketing touches to even generate a qualified lead. If you spread these touches out through multiple channels, you increase the possibility of getting through to your audience and ultimately increasing your customer base.
7) Direct Emails
Last, but not least, direct emails can be a powerful way to reach your audience, as evidenced by the fact that marketers continue to rate it as the most effective (and least difficult) digital marketing channel. Make sure that for whatever reasons someone gave you their email, you meet their expectations, whether it's promoting new content or sending over product updates.
Need help setting up a comprehensive digital advertising campaign using your email list? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.