A well-populated email marketing database is one of the most valuable assets of a small business if you do it right. It’s a catch-22: you need email addresses, but you want recipients who want your content, not users who will immediately hit the delete button.
Getting people to open those emails is a topic for another post. For now, focus on the ways to build a list that has value for your business. The golden rule is to always send an initial email either inviting them to opt in to receive future mailings or notifying them they have been added and giving them the option to unsubscribe.
Website Subscribe Option
The website subscribe option is a given; almost every commercial website you come across these days has a Subscribe to our newsletter message. How well this works depends on where it’s located on the website and how you draw attention to it. Front and center on your home page, and every page of your site, is the best option. Don’t make people hunt for it. Draw their attention with a big, bold heading. Don’t tell visitors to your site that the request is for email marketing, either. Invite them to sign up to get updates about your brand, fresh content, and information they can use.
Run a Competition
People love to win free things; it doesn’t matter how big or how small. Invest in a few Starbucks gift cards for $5 or $10, and post a contest on your social media pages. Add a question that takes entrants to your website for the answer. There, give visitors a checkbox to opt-in to receive future offers from your company. Take note: we said offers, not email marketing newsletters. A competition achieves several things:
- Increasing knowledge and awareness of your brand strategy, products or services by going to your website to look for the answer
- Generating email addresses for the newsletter database
- Driving traffic to your website
One thing: Don’t blast your readers with “sign up here” banners everywhere they go, or you might lose them completely. Keep your promotions relevant!
Social Media Sign-up
Social media platforms offer business pages you can customize with a sign-up app. Facebook has a downloadable app that allows you to connect your account with MailChimp, and embed a customized form on your page using HTML code. People who like your Facebook page can subscribe without visiting your actual website.
Capture Addresses Everywhere
In the real world, you regularly meet people who could enjoy your information. Collect email addresses wherever you go:
- If you’re at an exhibition or conference, collect business cards.
- If you have a booth at a trade show, collect names and emails.
- In your dealings with vendor companies, ask for their contact info.
- When you attend networking sessions… you get the picture?
Buy a business card scanner that lets you feed business cards into a database, then export the email addresses to your email marketing list. It’s much easier and faster than entering each email address you collect.
Offer Downloadable Content on Your Website
Users download content such as videos, podcasts, white papers, and ebooks wherever they find the information they need. And of course, websites are capturing their email addresses. Once again, make sure you state that they have the option to receive future information from you; don’t just add them to your email marketing database and start sending newsletters, or you will spam them.
Set up an Autoresponder Series
Almost all email marketing software has an autoresponder, which is a series of emails sent to someone who triggers the cycle. Signing up for a “free course about” something your practice does well could trigger a three- or 10-part email series. Emails can arrive daily, weekly, or on any interval you design. You may not even have to write the series; posts used in old newsletters could contain all the information you need. Setting up the series is a “solve once, use many” marketing task. See our post about Autoresponders for more information.
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