Email marketing is the most effective form of marketing. However, the unique challenge for the email marketer is building a quality email list. I do not recommend buying email contacts from outside sources. It is best to build your email list through your events, website, mobile application, etc. To build a quality email list from your website you will need both website traffic and incentives. Incentives will motivate your site visitors to freely give their email address. Below are ten of my tried and true methods to retrieve those valuable email leads.
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1. Offer Content that will be Released in the Future
This is a method I have used to capture email addresses. My friends often teased me because I have been threatening to write a book for years. The deal was, if you go to my website and submit your email address, you will receive a free copy of my book in digital form once the book is finally released. The advantage of this method is that you do not need a finished product to give away. You can start building your list right away. This is a great strategy for newer businesses. As a side benefit, you can also test the market’s demand for whatever product you plan on releasing.
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If you have a physical storefront and/or an e-commerce store, you can offer newsletter exclusive coupons and sales. One of my clients offers a deal where their customers can mention that they have a newsletter subscription and they are given a limited-time discount. Often other customers, who happen to be in the store, will overhear about the discount. Thus the store’s staff will have inquiring customers sign up for their newsletter on the spot.
3. Exclusive and Small Capacity Events
If your business is appropriate for small physical venues (bands, stand-up comics, etc), you can offer exclusive access to the events in exchange for email addresses. “Enter your email address for a chance to appear as an extra in our next music video (or comedy skit).”
“We have a house concert coming up exclusively for people who are subscribed to our Newsletter.” This practice also fosters an exclusive community and is great for keeping in touch with the immediate concerns of your core market.
4. Giveaways and/or Sweepstakes
A “raffle” practice allows email sign-ups to feel like they have a chance at a reward they want! “If you enter your email address, your name will be entered to win a new car.” Rewards can be as small as a monthly coffee giveaway or as large as your budget allows. A friend of mine organized an email raffle where prizes included things like houses and cars. Needless to say, he acquired hundreds of thousands of email addresses. You can create raffles both online and in person. Another of my clients, It’s Raw Poke Shop, obtained hundreds of email addresses through a raffle which took place in their San Diego Store.
5. Sending Free Stuff in the Mail
Sometimes all it takes to trade for an email address is free merchandise. As an example, a company called Funnel Hacker sends you a free t-shirt if you sign up and try their service (no questions asked!). I signed up for it myself, tried their service, and though it did not work out for me, I kept the shirt and advertise for them all the time. Your business may not have the budget for t-shirts, but there are plenty of options to choose from; many potential customers would be happy with a free sticker or button! As an additional benefit, you get to obtain your core customer’s geographical location, which will be very useful if you are deciding where to organize future promotional events. Sidenote: I recommend Funnel Hacker for non-developer marketers.
6. Opportunities to be Featured
If you are a Youtuber or Instagrammer, you can create an opportunity for those who have signed for your newsletter to appear in your social media content with you. In my case, I offer my Instagram and Facebook followers the opportunity to have their website critiqued for technical and design improvements. In order to be eligible, they have to join my Facebook group. I realize a Facebook group is not an email list, but the method of acquisition is interchangeable. For me, this allows me to make promotion and create content in one project: two birds with one stone. If you would like your site critiqued, please join my Facebook group: Web Design Critique.
7. Time-sensitive content
Although at first glance this method may seem to intersect with number one, the difference is that the offer for free merchandise or content is set within a given time-frame. It has a “time-sensitive appeal.” This method suits e-course instructors very well, who sell online classes. For example, instructors may offer the first quarter of their lessons for free for those who sign up on the email list within the first 24 hours.
8. Workbooks or Questionnaires
Businesses that offer workbooks or helpful questionnaires frequently find success when trading for email addresses. Example: a workbook that helps users identify their personal brand. Another example: questionnaires that help identify one’s body type and make appropriate dietary suggestions for a nutrition plan. Give these items away in exchange for email information. If you would like to see an additional example of this type of marketing, I use a popup with a workbook offer on Chrissy Power’s blogs and it has increased email capture by about 5 times.
9. Trial or Light Version of Your Service or Product
Giving a sneak peek to your trial or service is a great way to build your email list. Right now I am building a business that offers content, security, maintenance, and hosting to websites. If anyone would like to test the effectiveness of any of these services, I just go ahead and offer trials free of charge. When they see the results, they usually will come back for more. If they don’t, they will be reminded when I email them later since they have been added to my email list.
10. Retain Emails Through Existing Sales
Lastly, make sure that you utilize your sales system properly if you have an online store. Once a customer makes that initial purchase their information is captured and you can keep contacting them in order to re-sell. Confirm that you are retaining these emails that are captured from already existing sales. These customers tend to be sought after, and it would benefit you to maintain rapport with them, as they are likely to buy again and remain loyal.
As a side note, I would like to emphasize that it’s important to stay aligned with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) standards, especially if you are based in Europe. If you solicit by email and the user feels they are being spammed, consequences may follow.
Let me know what you think or if I missed anything. Thank you for reading my blog post. I also welcome questions.