With the rise of growth hacking, we’re getting more and more accustomed to headlines like ‘Company X raises $300,000 overnight’ and ‘How Company Y grew a contact list of 25,000 in a week’. 

For many businesses these stories are inspirational, motivating greater competition with industry leaders. For others, it drives a more scrappy approach to achieving the maximum growth in the shortest time.

We recently saw email being named the technology which has had the greatest impact on the way we work over the last 10 years. As email evolves through cloud computing, automation, integrating into social and becoming more focused around mobile, its role in transforming businesses is set to grow. For marketers looking to make the most of email and tap into the kind of growth making the headlines, balancing speed against the quality of your interactions with customers is key.

First, ensure you are prioritising your customers and their individual identities

Consolidating all the information you gain from customers and utilising it for email marketing is key to standing out from competition and achieving high ROI. In 2015, working with Mailjet, e-commerce retailer Of A Kind built out its contact list with quality in mind and saw it pay off big time.

Passionate about building products and creating content that their customers love, Of A Kind wanted to make sure they were speaking to the right customers with the right type of content in their email interactions. By populating the contact list with relevant information and honing this data to send the right message at the right time, the company saw its open rates increased by a staggering 23%.

To get yourself started, try using a tool like Segment.io which helps to actually make sense of all the information you’re already collecting from your customer from different platforms. At the end of the day, when used the right way email acquires a significantly larger number of customers than social – almost 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined.

Second, smarten up when it comes to collecting, managing and cleaning your email addresses

Of the average contact list, 60% is inactive, which means that more than half of the people you think you’re speaking with might not even be listening.

Of A Kind cut through that extra noise by regularly removing users who had not shown interest in receiving content anymore, and segmenting out users who have not opened or clicked in the past three to six months. This allowed them to focus more efforts on listening to how engaged customers were interacting with content.

If you’re looking to better focus your email efforts on responsive targets, tools like  SumoMe can help by collecting new email addresses at the right time, on the right page of your website and have them saved on your email service provider’s platform. This can increase the number of addresses collected and also make sure the contact list is populated by real prospects.

Third, make the most of transactional emails

Recent research has shown that customers are more engaged with transactional emails than any other form of marketing, with one study even suggesting personalised offers can drive up to 20% conversion. Despite this, many marketers still aren’t taking advantage of using this content to create truly personalised engagements.

For Mention Me, a UK-based peer-to-peer referral platform, partnering with Mailjet to develop its transactional email strategy, the company significantly enhanced its core business. Having grown to work with national and international brands with more than a 1,000% growth in their email sending volume, improved use of transactional emails and achieved growth of between 10% – 25% in new customers for their clients.

Fourth, realise the potential for automation and step up the speed of your campaigns

Automation is the future. Email and marketing automation have been a hot topic for the last four to five years. It’s only now reaching SMBs and enabling more casual users as it becomes more widely available, rather than being a ‘black magic’ tool only available by enterprise services.

By using a service like SendWithUs, you can create automated trail of emails (drip campaigns) to be sent out based on user behaviour on your app or website, communicating with them at the right time with a specific and high converting message.

Whilst email is part of a long term strategy, these steps are just a small sample of the opportunities for marketers looking to hack the effectiveness of customer interactions and start growing contact lists today.