The most important trick to building your email list is to integrate it with your company culture. Become comfortable asking and make it part of each staff member’s everyday client conversations. When clients or prospects call, whether it’s to pay a bill or ask about pricing, ask with confidence. Practice your pitch, explain the benefits of being on your email list, share frequency and be OK with the idea that some people may not want to receive your emails. You’re not trying to bother people, you want to communicate with willing participants.
Start building your list from your own inbox. Have all employees who interact with customers export a list of their email contacts and sort the list into emails of clients, prospects and family or friends. Combine the lists, discard any duplicates and delete any persons you don’t wish to contact.
If you use QuickBooks or a database-driven billing system, you’re in luck. Most billing software allow you to export a list of client data, including emails. This is often the quickest way to get an email list of current and past clients.
Include a signup form on your website allowing visitors to subscribe to your list. Gather only the essential information in the form. The more information you ask for the less likely people are to subscribe. So keep it simple: name and email or possibly just email does well.
If you allow people to signup for events online or contact you via email form on your website, add a checkbox inviting them to subscribe to you email list. You’ll be surprised how many subscribe to the list;if you don’t ask you’ll never know.
One of the best ways to convert website visitors to list subscribers is with a pop up ad. Don’t just hit them with the ad as soon as the jump on your site–that’s too soon. Wait for them to stay on the site for a little while or until they scroll down the page to a certain spot, then ask them if they’d like to join your list.
Put a sign-up sheet next to your cash register, or ask for an email in your visitor log book. If you run a restaurant, put a sheet asking for emails in the receipt book. Run a contest to provide incentive for staff to collect emails. People will be more likely to sign up if your staff asks on their behalf than if you offer them a deal. Everyone likes to help someone out.
Make gathering emails part of your customer onboarding process. Name, phone, address and yup, you guessed it: EMAIL.
Ask trade show booth visitors to join your list. Do a drawing for a prize or a survey and ask if you can email the results. Don’t just gather business cards and spam people though. Email the contest or survey results and in the same email ask the recipients to join your email list. Consider keeping their emails on file to send them occasional emails that may be of interest to them as well, but don’t be a spammer. It’s not cool.
As I mentioned before, sort the list into clients, prospects and family or friends. Before uploading your list to your email software, consider deleting duplicate addresses. As you ask website visitors to sign up for your list you may ask them what they’re interested in learning about as well so you can use the information to tailor a message for them.
It’s a common courtesy to send an email asking people if they want to opt out of your list before you start your campaign. Tell them exactly what they’ll get on the newsletter, how often you’ll send it and how they’ll benefit from your message. You only want to talk to the people who want to hear your message, not annoy your friends.
You’re website and email software should talk. With the right tools, your site can update your email marketing subscriber list. And if configured correctly your email marketing software can be arranged to auto generate email newsletters, building them from blog posts or other post driven content as it’s added to your site. These are huge time savers – they eliminate the need for extra steps, so your email marketing is just that much more likely to actually happen.
These are just a few ideas for building your email list. Get creative, use the tools you have at your disposal and remember the cardinal rule of list building: you’ll never know if you don’t ask!
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