28 Ways to Grow Your E-mail List

How To Grow Your Email List

by Anna Yeaman

Three out of four leads won’t buy from you within the first six months. E-mail marketing allows you to nurture those prospects until they’re ready. To have a shot at building that relationship, you need to encourage them to opt in.

So how can you start or grow an e-mail subscriber list? Here are 28 strategies my clients and I have used:

1. Transactional e-mails. Make the most of your transactional e-mails by adding an e-mail sign-up link. In a survey by Datran Media of 2,000 marketers, 63 percent said they plan on integrating marketing messages into transactional e-mails this year.

2. Tradeshows/networking events. Make a note on business cards of contacts that have chosen to be added to your e-mail list. Try sending a follow-up e-mail to new contacts, and mention your newsletter as a way to keep in touch. Also, try having a raffle/contest at your next show. Not only will it drive traffic to your booth, but it’s an opportunity to collect e-mail addresses from anyone entering. Let entrants know they will be added to your newsletter list.

3. Viral marketing. Run a “Forward to a Friend Contest” in your e-mail newsletter. If readers use the Forward link, they’re entered to win a prize.

4. Subject line. Try adding “Pls. Forward” to the end of your newsletter subject line.

5. E-mail signature. Include a “Join Our E-mail List” link at the bottom of your e-mail signature—and your staff’s. Try to make the language more compelling!

6. Customer support. Have your customer-support staff request e-mail addresses. Familiarize them with your newsletter content.

7. Squeeze page. Create a Web page that “squeezes” contact info out of a visitor. Use a free download or more information about your services as a lure.

8. Web site. Have a sign-up box on every page of your Web site. Each is a potential landing page.

9. Show list. Sometimes tradeshow organizers will provide a list of attendees’ e-mail addresses. Send out a newsletter a few days before the show introducing your company. One client of mine always includes a link to set up an appointment and a download of her latest jewelry collection.

10. Competition/contest. Offer a contest to win a voucher or gift certificates for your products or services. Promote your contest in magazines, at tradeshows, and on your Web site. One of my clients grew their list by thousands by running a contest in Woman’s World magazine to win a $500 gift voucher for their store.

11. Cash register. Ask your customers to provide you with their e-mail address when they go to the cash register. Be sure to set expectations around frequency.

12. Sign-up slips. Leave sign-up slips around your store, such as in the changing rooms, and include them with purchases.

13. Customer events. Hold events where you push e-mail sign-up. A lot of retailers hold in-store parties around Christmas. Think of holidays that appeal to your customer base, or just make one up, a la “Girls’ Night Out.”

14. Pop-up/ pop-over. Use a pop-up box or pop-over on your Web site. Spiegel has a Java-based pop-over sign-up form; GQ has a pop-up box on exit. I know, some of us hate pop-up boxes, but they are effective.

15. Business card. The back of your business card is a great place to promote your newsletter, i.e. “Stay in touch via our monthly TechTips newsletter.”

16. Cross-promotion. Team up with complementary businesses. Try not to hijack each other’s newsletter; introduce yourself gradually to your partner’s readers. Make sure you design your creative to fit in with theirs. Have you noticed how Daily Candy cross-promotes, using its own artwork and copywriter for its dedicated e-mails? It’s not so jarring and feels less like spam.

17. Business associations. Contact your association for its membership roster. There are thousands of associations and trade organizations. Many provide their list to members for free. Send colleagues an incentive to sign up for your newsletter.

18. Articles. Write an article (like this one!) and publish it for free in other newsletters and on Web sites. Add the line, “Want to receive more articles like this? Click here.”

19. Online sign-up page. Subscribers like to know what they’re getting into. Your sign-up page needs to sell your newsletter. Include:
• A clear outline of the type of content your newsletter covers
• Explain the benefits of receiving your newsletter
• Testimonials from current subscribers
• A link to your privacy statement
• A sample of past issues
• Set the right expectations by stating your frequency

20. #1 subscriber turn-off. Long subscription forms. Keep your subscription process simple, requiring name and e-mail address only. If you ask for a postal code, tell them why you need it. (To send information about local stores, for instance.) You can always survey subscribers later for additional information.

21. Reprint your newsletter content. Let others reprint your newsletter/blog articles. You gather links back to your site and new readers. Just ask that they add your contact information/link details.

22. Direct mail list. Chances are you already have a mailing list. Send out a postcard with an incentive to sign up for your e-mail newsletter.

23. Checkbox on all your forms. Wherever you have a form on your Web site (and off), add a checkbox or extra entry where contacts can sign up for your newsletter. Never force someone to deselect a checkbox; leave them empty by default.

24. Bills, receipts, and invoices. I read recently how a restaurant successfully grew its e-mail list by attaching cards to each bill. One of my clients adds stickers to invoices and store receipts encouraging customers to sign up.

25. Online video. Promote your newsletter in your online videos. Do this early on; most Web videos do not get viewed all the way through. If posting on YouTube, remember to add your URL to the title.

26. Start a blog. A nice side effect of starting my Style Campaign blog is that my newsletter subscription list has grown dramatically. Blogs increase your site traffic and allow the reader to get a taste of your newsletter content. Be sure to add a newsletter sign-up link on your blog sidebar so it can be accessible at all times.

27. Comment on blogs. No time to start a blog? You can still comment and get involved in discussions on other sites. Often your name will be linked back to your Web site, which can generate newsletter subscriptions.

28. Relevant, timely, targeted content. Don’t put all your focus on growing your e-mail list. It’s about quality, not quantity. You need to retain the subscribers you already have. Sending straight promotional e-mails month after month does not cut it anymore. Put extra effort into making your content useful. Look at magazine articles in your field for ideas. Try soliciting reader feedback as much as possible. Feature a Q&A, contests, and photos, or ask for reader stories and reviews. E-mail is a club, connecting you to your most loyal customers. Don’t mess up by focusing on short-term sales. By producing quality content, you will be rewarded with a high return on your investment and happy, repeat customers.

Anna Yeaman runs Style Campaign, an L.A.-based e-mail marketing boutique.

Ladies Who Launch is asking you … have any more ideas on growing an e-mail list? Share them with us in the Comments section below!

Here’s another way to grow your e-mail list—join the AvantGarde Communications PR and Marketing group for conversation and connections!