5 Ways to Build Your Email List

You already know how important email is to a successful marketing program. If you are still on the fence about prioritizing this channel, read our last post, Email: The Unsung Hero of Marketing.

Since 2008 social has been the darling of marketing, relegating email to the “boring old stuff” corner. But in a newly published infographic, PayFort reports that email is 40X more effective for acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter.

Even if you are committed to email marketing, it’s hard to run a successful campaign with a weak list.

Our five favorite ways to grow your email list:

1. Tweak your website sign-up form.

You already have an email sign-up form on your website, right? If you don’t, it’s time to get one – and make it visible. Burying it as a tiny text link won’t build your list.

Once you have your email list sign-up form in place, be careful of how much information you request. The less info you require, the more likely people are to finish and submit the form. Don’t ask for anything you already know or you don’t really need.

The order of your form fields matters. It’s common to ask for first name, last name, then email address. Get the most important data first – the email address. You can always find ways to ask people to give you more information later, but if they leave before giving you an email address you are out of luck.

2. Give something valuable to get something valuable.

A lead magnet is a marketing term for something valuable you offer your audience in exchange for their valuable email address. Ask yourself what your community might want. A discount? A free piece of education? A tip sheet or an e-book? A report? A free ticket to one of your events? Create an offer to receive this valuable thing and place it in high traffic locations – a box or a pop up on your website, a social media post, or as part of an ad campaign.

3. Add a line for email addresses to any print response forms or event sign-ins.

Anything that’s going out that may come back should have a line for email addresses. Door sign-ins at all your events should ask for email addresses as well. No one will give them to you unless you ask. It’s advice that’s worth repeating!

4. Get third-party visibility.

Another option is to partner with someone else to gain email visibility. You can work with a list broker, who will send your email to their list on your behalf. Or you can buy an eblast through a magazine, an association, or a conference. These methods are different from putting an ad in someone else’s email because you take over the entire email as if it were your own. Because you never get direct access to the email addresses or the names on the third party’s list, you’ll need to include a lead magnet (see #2) that directs people to your site to sign up for your own email list.

5. Build to share.

Have you ever received an email from a friend (or your mom) with something they thought you would like or find interesting? This is what sharing looked like before social media was public. This may seem old school but the amount of content privately is growing. In fact, the term for this is called “Dark Social.”

Many email systems have functionality build in for you to add a share with a friend link to your emails. Additionally, you can add share by email as an option in your social sharing toolbar on your website. In every email include a link to sign up for email for the people who may see your content secondhand.

A note about data privacy: It’s important to make sure your forms (print and electronic) are compliant with data and privacy laws that apply to you and/or your audience, such as GDPR if you are dealing with people from the European Union. GDPR requires that sign up process tells subscribers that by providing their information, they’re signing up for it to be used for XYZ. New consumer privacy laws are going into effect in California in 2020 as well. Regardless of whether you fall under the jurisdiction of any data privacy laws, this type of transparency is a growing expectation.