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How To: Build Your Email Marketing List

Submitted by on January 31, 2012 – 8:04 amNo Comment

Email marketing is an integral part of business marketing. Consider this Forrester Research finding: “In 2011 United States firms alone spent US $1.51 billion on email marketing and will grow to $2.468 billion in 2016.”

Furthermore, Forrester suggests “Nearly every enterprise marketer uses email marketing as the workhorse of her interactive mix.” While businesses may be under the impression that social media or mobile marketing will replace the use of email, Forrester doesn’t see it that way. They believe that social and mobile campaigns will actually help you send more emails since “email tethers together customer experiences across channels.”

In the report, US Interactive Forecast 2011 to 2016, Forrester provides these company examples of how channels work together: “Glamour puts blog content in its weekly e-newsletter. 
In-store associates at Pacific Sunwear of California use tablets to sign consumers up for its daily deal emails. British Airways created an email campaign to drive downloads of its new Executive Club app. And generated 8,500 new leads for 50 cents each by emailing existing subscribers with a referral offer that they could forward via email, Facebook, or Twitter. So the more channels marketers embrace, the more email programs they’ll need to support them.”

Email marketing helps you to stay in front of your customers and prospects, reminding them of your products and services and why they should put their trust into working with your company. But email marketing will only be as good as your email list which is why businesses will need to keep their eye on building and maintaining a healthy list.

In this post, we talk about the sources and touchpoints for collecting email addresses, ways to ask for permission to email, suggestions for give-aways and sign-up forms, ways to ensure privacy, and the types of information you want to collect.

Sources and Touchpoints

Eric Groves, author of The Constant Contact Guide to Email Marketing, advocates for thinking about the quality of email addresses versus quantity, and recommends mapping out the sources and touch points where you can attempt to obtain them. 

He identifies six places and respective strategies:

Web sites, blogs and social media
Here, Groves suggest that instead of using a generic message such as “join my email list” that companies  include a “brief but compelling message about the value of subscribing, along with a link to a privacy statement.” You can also take the opportunity to invite people on your website to follow you on your social networking sites and receive updates regarding posts on your company blog.

Outbound Emails

Groves suggest that in all the emails you send that you place a sign-up for your email list in your email signature, e.g. free internet marketing tips and videos
, click here to join our email list today.

Inbound emails, mobile phones and landlines
The strategy here is to make good use of each and every communication you may have: ask the people you respond via email if they would like to join an email list related to the topic they are emailing you about;  ask callers for their information when they ask you a question and let them know that you answer all kinds of similar questions in your monthly email newsletter; and if your customers are on the go ask them to join by texting their email address to your mobile number or by sending an email with “join the email list” in the subject or body of the email.

Networking events

Go a step further at networking events after you’ve swapped business cards and write down on the back of the card what you talked about with a person and whether they’re interested in receiving your marketing emails. Immediately following the event, send a follow-up email to all who were interested to thank them and remind them that they will be receiving your emails moving forward.

Store counter or in the office
Place a sign-up list on your checkout point or desk

Tradeshows and events
Be somewhat strategic in these situations and separate all collected business cards into two piles, first pile are people who asked for more information about your business, the second pile is for people with whom you had social contact but didn’t fully engage. Those are the ones you need to ask permission to send them your email newsletters or promotions.

Email Permissions

Michael Miller, author of The Ultimate Web Marketing Guide stresses the importance of asking a customer for permission to send him email messages. Miller says that it takes a bit of skill and that in most instances, “You have to do it in a line or two of text.”

He suggests that the way to do this is by providing some benefits for them to give you their email address. What benefits can you offer in exchange? 
Miller says more information such as updated information, new product announcements, product updates and technical support. And,  if you charge for support you might offer a few months of free support, or a few free tech support calls deals and specials (may take the form of weekly sale prices or something similar
free access to otherwise), paid information such as archival content, a discount on their next order.

Give-away suggestions

Free gifts can be good motivations for people to be willing to give a company their email address, and Denise Wakeman offers these suggestions for give-aways: a report, an interview, a series of videos, a white paper, a free teleseminar, a workbook, an mp3 of a program, and a webinar.

Simple & Straight-Forward Sign-Up Forms

Allison H. of Website magazine makes the case that in order to be successful that your signup form should be simple. “This includes not asking too many questions, providing content choice options, promoting incentives and linking to your privacy policy so that customers can be assured they won’t be spammed. Allison provides a few examples of effective signup forms from a variety of industries in the post.

Open and Honest is a Good Policy

Lisa Barone suggests that companies be open about how their email address will be used and that you’ll always have a process for unsubscribing should they want to stop receiving messages, and importantly that you will never sell their email address to another party.

John Arnold, author of E-Mail Marketing for Dummies, says that essential information for email address collection comes in two categories: professional and personal. For professional he advocates collecting: preferred email address, product lines or services of interest, zip code (if you conduct events or have multiple locations) For personal, ask for first name, and information that will help identify the users opinions and preferences.

Arnold says that you don’t have to obtain all essential information in the first contact with a prospect or customer and that as long as you have a good permission-based email address you can ask for more information in future emails by sending “short, relevant surveys and by using other contact methods as more trust develops in the relationship.”

Adding a privacy and permission policy to your data collection forms as well as clearly stating your intended usage up front helps put people more at ease when sharing information.

Arnold cautions that collecting information without asking for permission can cause prospective subscribers to hesitate, or worse they can perceive you as a spammer who abuses their privacy. He says, “Obtaining permission also ensures that your list starts out in compliance with current CAN-SPAM laws.”

Here’s some helpful information to  learn more about CAN-SPAM laws and how to be in compliance.

How do you obtain email addresses? What tactics have been successful for you? Let us know in the comments below.

photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc

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