Global consumers are now more aware of ethical business conduct than they ever were. Socially-conscious consumers prefer businesses that pride themselves on the best practices.
The most important aspect of building a good reputation for any business is the quality of its marketing campaign. Since emails are the go-to method for most marketers these days, it is important to learn about the advantages and disadvantages of different kinds of email marketing.
Opt-in list vs bulk list: which one is better?
Before we answer this question, let’s learn a little more about the salient features of both these types of email lists. It would provide greater clarity and help you understand the differences better.
A bulk list contains a huge volume of email contacts available on the internet. These can be obtained from various yellow pages or any online business that collects and sends such data. In the case of sending emails to a bulk list, the recipients have no idea that you have their ids and what were the means used to obtain them.
On the other hand, the opt-in list is when the recipients have themselves agreed to be contacted by you. They may have provided their email address via an online subscription or after purchasing something from you. Thus, opt-in lists are a more organic way of building an email marketing list.
Opt-in lists can be categorized as inbound emails while bulk lists would qualify as outbound ones. Just like inbound and outbound calls, the responses received by either method also vary.
As clear from the explanations above, bulk email would be considered a form of spam. It is lately more frowned upon than before and discouraged as a business strategy. An opt-in list is considered more ethical and therefore preferred by both businesses and consumers alike.
A sustainable approach would be to avoid being marked as spam as much as you can. So, to answer the question of which email marketing strategy would be better for a business in the long run, one definitely has to decide in favor of an opt-in list.
The more the merrier?
A counter-argument often used by marketers is that bulk lists might help generate more business as it enables you to access more users at a time. But reaching more people unethically would only earn you a spot in the spam list, something that no business wants.
In our opinion, the correct performance indicator of your email marketing is the conversion rate, not the number of sent emails. The effectiveness can be ascertained by using the number of new subscribers as a percentage of the total people contacted.
Not only is an opt-in list more effective, but it is less of a burden on your budget as well. Unlike a bulk list, you do not have to pay for a large number of contacts upfront. The list builds gradually so the costs can be spread over time, as the business grows.
An opt-in list also eliminates the repetitive cost of trying to engage the same user again and again with a bulk list. Such lists are seldom updated and hence less useful in optimizing the marketing budget.
Is there any scenario in which a bulk list is more suitable?
One can’t totally rule out the usage of a bulk list for marketing purposes. Sometimes, you’re selling a product or service that is low in demand or that won’t be readily advertised by other websites. So, your only option remains trying your hand at a bulk email list.
For example, let’s assume you’re trying to promote a very specific software. The chances of such a product being highly in demand at every other site are quite low. It would be difficult to reach the target audience organically.
In this case, it would be a matter of one hit among a hundred misses. You would have to take a chance and send out promotional emails to as many people as you possibly can. The conversion rate might still be low but the word of mouth in the relevant group of people would help your business more.
This is just one example of the kind of situation in which a bulk list might be more favorable. As a thumb rule, you should conduct extensive market research and then develop your marketing strategy. Aligning your objectives with the current market trends is extremely important to succeed as a business.
Factors that determine your choice of method
Reading this article may make you feel like barring some unique situations, opt-in lists should be the obvious choice. But devising business strategies is never so simple.
One has to consider the pros and cons of all the available options from various angles to make decision-making more effective. Listed below are some factors that influence the choice of your email marketing method.
Naturally, budget plays a huge role in determining your choice of method. Yearly changes in marketing budget, rise, and fall in demand in the relevant sector, competitors’ budget, etc are factors that would come into play when choosing an opt-in or bulk list.
How does your competitor carry out its marketing campaign? How effective is it? These are some of the questions that will help you decide the future course of action.
You can either choose to conform to the norms in your industry or do something groundbreaking. Either way, you’ll have to be aware of the policies of your major competitors.
Preferences of the target audience
If the social awareness is high, your target audience will have a strong resentment towards spam emails. If they’re easygoing people, you may not have such a hard time. Hence, you need to know your target well to decide how much of lenience they might allow.
Core values and policies
There are promises that you make to yourself, your team, and your consumers regarding the kind of ethical and moral conduct the business aims to adopt. Adherence to those promises will earn more customers while deviating from the principles may harm your business prospects. So, this is also an important factor to consider when devising a marketing strategy.