Jen McKinnon
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Top 5 Tactics to Generate an Email List

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Email is a great marketing tool to help grow your business, but it only works if you are patient and willing to spend the time procuring and testing your list. In the digital age, it’s important to any business’ success to capitalise on this standard nurture practice as it gives you the opportunity not only to grow revenue but also increase your company’s holistic value.

In the future, you may find yourself in a situation where you want to sell your business. A high-quality, qualified email list is the kind of asset that could boost your company’s overall valuation. However, building that list is a slow process that takes time. Allow your list to grow with your business to ensure the contacts on your list are responsive to your marketing messages.

Quality Vs. Quantity

It is commonly misconceived that more email addresses will generate more revenue. While this can be true, there are many contributing factors to the success of any one email list. The quality of the emails on your list plays just as much, if not more, of a role in the success of your email campaigns than the quantity. If you have sourced your email list naturally, using only addresses of website visitors who have shown an interest in your product or service, you increase your chance of a high converting campaign. Qualified email addresses are always worth more than those you’d find on a purchased list.

  1. Do It with Existing Customers

Start with a list of your existing customers. A repeat customer is more likely to convert than a brand-new lead who knows nothing about your business. In fact, they are 60% – 70% more likely to make a purchase than a new prospect. This, of course, means that they are worth more to your business, so you should treat them as such. Email marketing is a great way to nurture your existing customers and encourage repeat purchases.

For eCommerce businesses, obtaining the email addresses of past customers could be as simple as extracting the data from the back end of your CMS. For brick and mortar stores, on the other hand, it can be a little more complex to retrieve your customers’ information. You may not have much to start with but don’t panic! There are plenty of ways to build on that list, like employing the power of digital marketing.

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  1. Do It with Digital Exposure

Optimise Your Website

The first click is your biggest obstacle. If a customer visits your website it’s safe to assume they’re interested in your product, brand or service. It’s important then, if you’re trying to expand your email database, that you make it simple for visitors to subscribe. It is much easier to move a visitor to sign up for your email list than it is to get them to make their first purchase.

Clearly including a subscription form on your home page, in the sidebar or even in your menu bar will likely boost your subscriptions. Following that up with relevant, engaging content will ensure your leads are primed and on their way down the sales funnel.

Blog Subscription

Blogs aren’t just a great way to display thought leadership and get traffic to your website, they are also the perfect opportunity to attract subscribers to your email list. Ensure you always end your blog with a call to action, urging readers to subscribe.

You can also sculpt your blog to request an email address before a user leaves a comment. If you do choose to take this route, you can also set it up so that the user has to actively opt out of your communications if they don’t want to be included in your promotional email list.

Don’t Let Them Get Away

It’s easy for website traffic to miss your subscription form, so make it hard to avoid. If they get through your website without subscribing, make it impossible to miss before they leave. You can install a popup or lightbox on your website to catch their attention when they’re about to navigate away from your site. You can experience up to 9 times more subscribers this way!

Use a Scroll Box

If a visitor has given your site enough time to scroll down past a certain point on your home page, it is likely they are interested and even more qualified than if they’re about to leave your page. You can program a scroll box to pop up with subscription information to capture all the potential leads who read up to a certain point on your page.

Allow Your Subscribers to Customise Their Communications

No one likes spam and there is no doubt that people like to feel in control. By giving your subscribers the choice about the kind of communications they want to receive, they are more likely to subscribe. This also reduces the chance that your contacts will unsubscribe, as they are only receiving communications that are relevant to them. You can also give them the choice of how frequently they will hear from you; weekly, monthly or only when there are special deals on offer. This gives them the peace of mind that your business won’t bombard their inbox with emails.

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Advertise on Google

Click-based search engine advertising is a great way to expand your email list. By building a landing page purely to inspire visitors to subscribe, you increase your chances of action. This is a way to effectively purchase qualified subscribers but it’s important to set clear boundaries and expectations for how much you want to spend on each email subscription. This can be quite complex if you’re not familiar with the AdWords platform, so in many cases it is smart to employ a professional to manage it for you. With the AdWords platform, you can pinpoint users through websites that have the same or similar target demographics.

Engage with Social Media

Not only does social media provide you the opportunity to make new connections and stay in the know about what your target audience are interested in, it’s also a great platform to promote subscription to your email list. By using a targeted landing page, you can boost posts to a specified demographic, much the same as search engine marketing.

In-Email Social Sharing Options

Once you have established your list, you can inspire continued growth by enabling social sharing options on each email. This allows recipients to share the email across their social platforms.

  1. Do It with Incentives

Use Freebies & Giveaways

Consumers love a bargain – and ‘something for nothing’ is even more appealing. Incentivising potential customers to subscribe for a reward will boost your subscription rate significantly. Limited time offers spark a sense of urgency and further spurs users to subscribe, especially when there’s a giveaway at stake.

Tease Your Visitors with Content

This technique also works with useful information. Knowledge is valuable, and the right information could help you augment your email list. If you have an eBook, buying guide or extensive thought leadership piece, offering free download in exchange for an email address can provide you with the qualified contacts you’re after for your email database. This also works for online email courses and webinars.

Creating both a short form and long form version of your content can be a great way to lure subscribers in. Teasing your audience with some (not all) of the facts in a short-form piece is likely to inspire readers to opt-in to your email list to receive the long-form version. If you have valuable information, leverage it for a valuable email list.

Reward Referrals

Clients: Word of mouth ad recommendations are still a hugely valuable form of advertising. Rewarding your current clients with discounts for referring valid, new subscribers is a great way to grow your list. Encouraging your subscribers to forward emails on to friends and family is also a great way to draw new subscribers in.

Employees: You can use the same technique for your staff. Incentivising employees to collect authorised email addresses is a great way to get your list to flourish.

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  1. Do It by Promoting Exclusivity

Everyone likes to feel special. Providing an air of exclusivity by offering subscribers something only they have access to, like birthday and loyalty offers, is likely to prompt a rise in email subscription. This tactic relies on the language used to promote your email subscription, and employing phrases like “subscriber-only access,” “email-only specials” and “rewards” will attract traffic.

  1. Do It the Old-Fashioned Way: Offline Locations

Just because email marketing lives in the digital realm, it doesn’t mean that you can only solicit emails online. There are plenty of offline opportunities that can be just as effective. While these aren’t as instantaneous and may require extra time entering the data into your system, it’s often time well spent.

Provide an In-Store Sign-Up Sheet

If your business has a brick and mortar store, you can collect emails from visitors at your store. Create a sign-up sheet and get your staff to encourage customers to leave their details.

Use Business Cards

Business cards can provide a great opportunity for collecting contacts. For the right business, collecting cards in a bowl in a prominent place at your business location can be an easy and effective way to increase your list of subscribers, and an incentive to do so will always garner better results. This could be in the form of a discount, a free product or service, or a gift card.

You can also use your business card to drum up subscribers when meeting people face to face by asking for a business card and offering yours in return. You can even customise your card to include email subscription details on the back to encourage people who don’t carry cards to opt in themselves.

Host an Event

If you host events frequently (or even if you don’t!), RSVPs are a fantastic opportunity to request an email address.

Use Snail Mail

Depending on the type of business you run, you may have a physical address but no email contact. By sending a direct-mail offer, you can encourage email subscription.

Don’t Give Up on the Bounce Backs

If an email bounces back and you have snail-mail contact details, it’s worth sending a postcard to ask your lead to provide an updated email address to keep in touch. This is also a great opportunity to offer an incentive, like a discount or freebie.

Use Shipping to Your Advantage

If you’re already sending packages via post, you can beef up your email list at no expense! Take to including a subscription card inside every package. This card may have the details of how to subscribe on your website or could even include a QR code that sends customers directly to a purpose-built email sign-up page. Similar to the postcard above, you can sweeten the deal and increase the odds of subscription by providing an incentive to to so.

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What Not to Do

Rent or Purchase Email Addresses

You may have heard of renting or purchasing pre-existing email lists. Not only is this expensive, it’s also highly ineffective. Recipients on those lists have no prior engagement with your brand and this lack of interest may be a great detriment to your email marketing efforts. There is a high likelihood that many contacts on a bought list will mark your emails as spam, which could damage your domain reputation and cause issues for you with future email campaigns. There is also no guarantee that bought or rented lists won’t include addresses that bounce or are undeliverable. This may also incur penalties when it comes to your business’ future email marketing.

Spidering Websites for Registration Forms

Any ‘black hat’ email techniques that risk breaking privacy laws won’t work in the long run. You will not benefit from these practices and there is a high chance your sender reputation will be irreparably damaged.

In summary, you can build a strong, valuable email list using a combination of the tactics listed above. Have a go for yourself, or get in touch with WME today to chat about how best to move your business forward with email marketing.

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By Jen McKinnon


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