Image Credit: Idea Go

If you’ve read my posts about How to Get Started in Email Marketing and How Often to Email Your Customers, you may be thinking: “That’s great information, but how do I build an email list in the first place?”

Good question!

There are many different list services out there that you can purchase email addresses from, and still I’ve always questioned the success rate. I prefer to build my own lists to ensure that these are people (note: PEOPLE) who have visited the website and either requested information or found it helpful enough to request consistent communications.

Building an email list can take time. Here are 8 tips to help you get started with building your list:

  1. Ask for their email address. Do you have a sign up on your website?
  2. Make that ask compelling: Rather than saying “Sign up for our newsletter,” ask, “Would you like more helpful information about (insert what you do here)?”
  3. Provide an insightful article or document that visitors can download if they provide the email address. (Let’s not get into the “set your content free” vs. “request email address first” debate….)
  4. If you do a lot of direct mail, include a specific landing page on that mail piece and hold a contest encouraging those recipients to provide their email address.
  5. Include several forms on your website, besides “contact us” and “request a quote.” How about: “Have a Question?” “Just Ask” or an “Ask the Expert” area.
  6. Encourage “forward to a friend” via your email communications. It’s no secret that like-minded people are connected. Certainly if you send helpful information to someone, they’ll have a friend who can benefit from it as well.
  7. Different list options. Giving people a choice in what type of communications or topics they want to receive may encourage them to sign up. i.e. general news, specific department or certain application versus just one general email list.
  8. Networking and word of mouth. As you and your employees are talking with others who fit the audience, ask if you can include them in your email communications. This does not mean that having someone’s business card is approval to add them to your email list.

Note: Give the option to Opt In. On forms that are not simple email sign up forms, be sure to include an area for them to accept (or decline) that they want to receive email messages from you.

One thing to remember is that email marketing is one point of communication with your audiences. Your list may build rapidly or more slowly. Still, the best way to maintain your list health is by cultivating it with valuable, insightful and sometimes entertaining content geared to your audiences.

I invite you to check out other posts about email marketing:

How to Get Started in Email Marketing

How Often to Email Your Customers

What other ways have you used to build your email list? Any great tips or insights you’d like to share with others here?

If you’re looking for an email marketing platform or solution to help with sign ups, list maintenance or sending your email messages, check out iContact. It’s what we use at MINDSCAPE and is pretty easy to use.

Rebecca Dutcher is a business development partner and internet marketing expert for Mindscape at Hanon McKendry