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Email Lists—Build it and They Will Come

Steve Susina • August 27, 2014

Are you one of those people who think email marketing is dead? Well consider these points…


There’s no doubt that email should have a place in your marketing strategy, however, you can’t effectively use email as a marketing channel unless you are able to collect addresses and create an email list first. Here are ten ideas that will help you build an email marketing list for your business.

1. Don’t Play Hide and Seek with Signup Forms
Make it super easy for customers to subscribe. If you’re trying to build a list, don’t put the burden on potential subscribers to figure out how they might sign up. Provide a simple email signup box on your home page and throughout your site. You can also present it as an option when placing an order or when requesting additional information or anywhere else people may visit on your website.

2. You’re Not Writing a Biography on the Person
There’s no need to collect any more information than necessary to grow your email list. A study from the marketing automation provider, Marketo, showed that a five field form yielded a 34% higher conversion rate than a nine field form. For many purposes, collecting an email address alone is sufficient, and thus longer forms will only hurt your conversion rate.

3. Stranger Danger
Nobody willingly gives information to a spammer or someone who’s going to resell that email address. Commit to the user that you’ll never sell or share personal information from your email list. Let your subscribers know in advance that you’ll keep the information they share private.

4. Explain How You’ll use the Information
Along with sharing your commitment to privacy, you’ll find that people are more willing to share their email address if you’re clear about how you’ll use that email address. Let people know you intend to send them a once-a-week newsletter, daily sales specials, or list of monthly offers. If you let people know what to expect, they will be more willing to share their email address.

5. Manage Data with Marketing Automation
At minimum, as your email address lists grows, you’ll need technological help to manage information and to keep track of your subscription lists (and unsubscribed lists). The capabilities in tools such as Marketo, Hubspot, or Act-On give you the ability to create landing pages, track online behavior, and use progressive profiling tools.

6. Make it Easy to Unsubscribe
The easier it is to unsubscribe, the more willing people will be to subscribe in the first place. Let people know up front that it is easy and painless to stop receiving your messages and they’re more likely to be willing to opt in and start receiving them.

7. Show Social Proof
Share that your mailing list is popular. If you couple an easy sign-up form with an indication of the size of your mailing list (for example, “Join the 5,600 people that get our tips daily!”), you enable the bandwagon effect and validate that your list actually offers useful information.

8. Consider using Pop-Ups, Pop-Overs, Pop-Unders.
One of the conundrums of growing your email list is that while people claim to dislike such aggressive tactics as pop-ups, etc., the reality is that they work. Consider adding one of these actions to blog pages to offer users access to similar content via an email list.

9. Think Outside the Box
Consider other non-traditional ways to grow your email list. Simply ask at checkout, “May we add you to our weekly email?” Or provide an email list signup option at trade shows, promotional events, or other live events that engage your audience and expand your reach.

10. A/B Test Everything
Don’t blindly assume that any ideas—even the ones listed here—will necessarily be effective with your audience. Test! Then make decisions using hard data. Create alternate offers, wording, and even colors to create the email signup process that works best for your company.

Steve Susina

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Steve Susina

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