3 Tried-and-true Ways to Grow Your Email List

Posted July 03, 2014

By Janine Popick

All business owners know that they need to get the word out about their business in order to grow and to stay top-of-mind with customers. One of the best and fastest ways to do that is through email marketing. But many small business owners have questions about how to go about building or acquiring an email marketing list.

Some folks wonder if it’s OK to use a purchased, rented or scraped email list. I get it; if you’re just starting out or trying to grow your business fast, you may not have a lot of customers or subscribers in the beginning.

But, after more than 13 years in the email marketing business, I’m here to tell you there are no shortcuts to growing a loyal base of subscribers, fans and followers. Buying or renting a list is definitely not the way.

So, how do you grow your list with subscribers who truly want to hear from you and take action on your messages? Try these three time-tested tips.

Email Marketing Tips: How to Grow Your Subscriber List

1. Give them good stuff

If you want someone to fork over their email address and trust you to not send a bunch of junk to their inbox, then you better make sure you offer them something of value.

What will you deliver? Whatever it is—discounts, exclusive deals, advance access, tips, how-tos, advice or something else—make sure the value is crystal-clear on your sign up form.  For example Off the Grid, an organization that manages mobile food truck events all over the San Francisco Bay Area, places this description next to its email sign up form: Get the details on markets, trucks and menus sent straight to your inbox.

2. Ask them to sign up

The point of sending email for your business is to build a relationship with your subscribers. And to build that relationship, you first need to get subscribers permission to send them email. This is where an email sign-up or opt-in form comes in handy.

An email sign-up form is an embedded or hosted Web form that you can place or link to on your website, blog or social media sites, and visitors fill it out if they want to receive your newsletters and emails.

Sign-up forms are powerful list-building tools because when people willingly give you their name and email address, they’re saying they want to hear from you. When you get permission, you build a relationship and gain trust.

Tap the power of email sign-up forms by making sure your sign-up process is super quick and painless. Don’t ask for too much information upfront, only the bare necessities like an email address and a first name.

Also, give folks the opportunity to sign up nearly any place they can contact or interact with your business, including your

  • Website: Place your email sign-up form or link in a prominent place throughout your website. Don’t settle for having it on just one page; test having a sign-up link on every page to maximize its potential.
  • Blog: If you have a blog, it’s the prefect place to capture readers and turn them into subscribers.
  • Facebook Page: Incorporate a tab on your business Facebook profile, and folks can sign up for your email list right from Facebook.
  • Twitter Feed: Make it part of your social media routine to share a link to your sign-up form at least once a week.
  • Events and Trade Shows: If you’re hosting an event or exhibiting at a trade show, make sure you offer attendees the opportunity to sign up for your email list.
  • Email Signature: We all send email from our personal email addresses to friends, family, vendors, etc. Make sure you include a link to your sign-up page in your email signature.
  • Transactional Emails/Invoices: If your business sends any type of transactional emails or invoicing, offer customers a link to subscribe to your marketing emails.
  • Content: Make sure to include a link to your sign-up form in any content you’re creating. Your readers are already engaged in the content you’ve produced, so they're more inclined to want more from you.

3. Make it easy for them to spread the word

I’ve already mentioned several places where you can (and should) share links to your email sign-up form. But another easy—and often overlooked—opportunity is to leverage your current subscribers. How to do this? Give your current email subscribers the ability to share your emails with their social media networks

Simply include share-to-social icons for networks like Facebook and Twitter in all your marketing emails. Most email service providers offer these icons or buttons. This strategy places your messages in front of a whole new set of people who may have never known about your business. This is the digital version of word-of-mouth marketing.

So there you have it, three tried-and-true ways to grow your email list. Have any good ideas to add to these? Please share them in the comments.

Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company). Connect with her on Twitter at @janinepopick.

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