Blog Post
Marketing 101

Five ways to build your email list

Email marketing isn’t sexy. Running a small business, you may be tempted to focus your limited marketing efforts on social media or content creation. These channels are perceived as cooler, more visible. But there’s a reason we start our clients with email strategy before all other tactics: it works.

It is one of the few communication channels that your brand owns entirely. Your content and your message go directly to your customer, and you aren’t beholden to algorithms to ensure your content gets seen.

For every $1 spent on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $42. In a year (and a future) where in-person interaction between brands and consumers is decreasing, email is a critical communication channel. The major social media platforms have an average engagement rate of under 1% — an average open rate for an email campaign should be somewhere in the 20-30% range.

As another example, Morning Brew, which started as a single email newsletter, grew its revenue from $3 million in 2018 to $13 million in 2019. And that’s just from providing engaging, relevant content in a unique way.

Email is a necessity for your business. How do you get started? Outside of deciding which specific email service provider is best for sending your emails, the first step is to build your email list.

1. Add existing customers or users

This is an obvious first step to building a more formalized email list. If you have collected email addresses during transactions or other client, customer, or subscriber interactions, this is the beginning of your email list.

You can collect emails from your CRM or point-of-sale systems, in addition to your website. If you are collecting email addresses (or other personal information), it’s essential to provide details about how users’ data will be used.

2. Add ways to sign up across your website

The next step is to optimize your online presence. Outside of a transactional form, there are other ways to give website visitors the opportunity to sign up to receive your emails.

Website tactics to consider:

  • Transactional form
  • Pop-up box
  • Webpage banners
  • Unique landing page
  • Calls to action within web page or content copy
  • Chatbot interactions

For any website sign up form, you should include a link to a privacy policy or other terms and conditions.

3. Collect emails in person

The remaining tips focus primarily on digital tactics, but don’t neglect the value of in-person interactions as a way to grow your audience. We realize that this year your offline interactions with customers may be minimal, but that will not always be the case. If someone is visiting your store or attending an event you’re participating in, they have already expressed a lot of interest in your brand.

Emails should be collected during any transaction, in person or online. However, you can also provide people a way to sign up for your emails with a good, old-fashioned sign up sheet in your store or at an event.

4. Offer incentives

When someone provides you with their email, they are giving you their personal information. People are more likely to do this if they feel like they will receive something of value in exchange.

For some, engaging, entertaining, or educational content would be sufficient. However, if you’re selling a product or service, it’s likely they’re looking for something more. Discounts, contests, free trials, exclusive products or access, and gated content are all ways to convert your browsing audience to email subscribers.

5. Use other marketing tactics to promote

Leverage your other marketing tactics to direct your audience to sign up for your email. Most likely, this means providing a URL to sign up. Product packaging, employee email signatures, direct mail, physical signage, and organic and paid social media are natural places to share a link to sign up.

You shouldn’t just blast out ads about your email newsletter — explain why someone should want to sign up by communicating the value your emails will provide.

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