Paid acquisition can help you grow your database faster than organic-only methods, but they take special handling so you get the most for your money and avoid the problems that can cause campaigns to fail.

Check out these tips from Zach Labenberg, VP, Client Strategy, and Brian McKenna, VP, Strategic Partnerships, with DMi Partners, a digital marketing agency serving B2B and B2C clients.


1. Focus on early engagers.

Establish KPIs to measure and track success with early engagement by subscriber source. If you tried paid acquisition before but didn’t get the results you wanted, one of two things happened:

  • You didn’t get the volume you wanted because it was too expensive.
  • You got the volume you wanted, but the quality was low. Your subscribers didn’t give you the open, click or retention rates you need. They might even have hurt your deliverability if they didn’t engage or reported your emails as spam.


2. Establish a baseline KPI.

The most common KPI is unique open rate during a welcome series. Open rates don’t always translate to customer lifetime value, but it’s a start. As your program grows, you can add longer-term KPIs like email opens over 30 to 60 days, opens across all campaigns or revenue from email.


3. Optimize campaigns beginning on Day 1, and pause sources that don’t deliver.

Instead of waiting days or months to see whether subscribers from a specific paid acquisition source are hitting your KPI, track them right away, and track daily. Then, pause any paid sources whose subscriber activity is below your KPI threshold. If this puts a strain on your marketing team, an outside email agency can manage this.


4. Never acquire more subscribers than you can manage without affecting engagement KPI.

If your small-scale paid acquisition efforts look promising, you might be tempted to scale up quickly. But that can damage your engagement and deliverability. Instead, work with a partner that can help you manage the process carefully, see what’s working and manage a reasonable scaling-up process. Take incremental steps to grow, but be sure your volume can sustain your quality metrics.


5. Before launching an acquisition campaign, be prepared to pull out non-engagers from email sends.

If you do everything right with paid acquisition, you’ll end up with a lot of good subscribers, but a few duds can still creep in. One big mistake is to treat all subscribers alike. Segment your non-responders, and put them into a re-engagement program instead of continuing to send as usual. Otherwise, they can pull down your open rate and risk your deliverability and inbox rates.


For more details on building a successful paid acquisition program, and more advice for developing an effective email-marketing database, check out the on-demand webinar From Acquisition to Attribution – How the Biggest Email Trends were Shaped by 2020, featuring Zach and Brian from DMi and Keith Reinhardt, FreshAddress marketing manager.

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