Dana Sullivan Kilroy is a communications professional with more than 20 years of experience delivering compelling content. Her work has appeared in national, award-winning publications and sites, including: The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Fast Company, Inc.
If you're looking for tips about how to grow an email list, you've come to the right place. We asked a handful of business owners and marketing experts for their go-to tips and tools for collecting email addresses they can then use to generate new leads, and stay in touch with existing customers.Here are 16 easy ways to collect email addresses so you can build a valuable list.
1. Make sure there's something in it for them (and never, ever, spam)
Think about the emails you open and those you delete immediately. I'm guessing you don't open any email that you don't believe will benefit you or your business in some way. So when you ask for a customer's email, make sure you are offering them something valuable in exchange. Whether it's a coupon or early access to a new product or sale, an ebook or other piece of thoughtful content, or the chance to win a prize, when you ask for someone's email, make sure there's something valuable in it for them. ~ Doug Churchill, CEO, ShortStack.
2. Offer useful resources
"Offer 'knowledge products' as a way to gather email addresses, including interviews with industry leaders, tips, presentations. The resources also give me information to offer in slide presentations at my speaking engagements. I also include the verbiage, 'If you found this email useful, please forward it on to a friend,' to every email, which has grown my list by 50 percent." ~ John Paul Engel, Knowledge Capital Consulting.
3. Use Facebook ads
"Without question, the most affordable and cost-effective way to grow a list of leads for email marketing is through Facebook ads. We've easily made 7 figures in sales in the past 12 months by using direct targeted Facebook ads to capture leads (name and email). The user base for Facebook is at an all-time high, and the age range of its users is ideal for most businesses these days. The user base ages 30-55+ has seen massive growth while the age group 13-25 has dropped off significantly.Whether you are a solopreneur, a medium-sized business, or a large corporation, Facebook is an amazingly powerful way to capture new leads. With even a modest budget you capture dozens of new leads every day. And the best part is that these are leads that are pre-disposed to buy what you sell. You can target them very specifically based on their age, geographic location, behaviors, and even their online purchase history.Our company grossed well into 7 figures in sales, just from Facebook leads alone. On average, we capture anywhere from 50-150 leads per day using targeted Facebook ads. The good times will only last for so long before the user base moves on to something new. Now is the time to dive in full force and strike while the iron is hot." ~ Corey Robert, Marketing Director of Black Card Books Publishing.
4. Offer free tutorial videos
"At Deskbright, we collect email addresses to use for marketing purposes by offering free Excel tutorials and lessons via email for our users. We've developed a huge corpus of free content online, which draws users through referrals from other websites and a solid organic search presence. Visitors who find our free articles helpful can sign up to receive more information and classes via email as we update our site and add content. Our users stay up-to-date on the latest free content available on our site, and we get to collect valuable email addresses to market our paid products." ~ Sam McIntire, founder of Deskbright.
5. Promote your newsletter signup throughout your website
"I collect email addresses through newsletter signups which I include throughout my website. The location I get the most signups from is a popup on my blog but visitors can also sign up if they select a box on any form. Putting it in front of visitors is the best way you can do it, so any opportunity you have, put an option to sign up in front of visitors. My favorite tool is Mailchimp because it ties in well with WordPress websites and the management of subscribers and campaigns is extremely easy. It makes it easy to create beautiful newsletters and send out my newest blog posts automatically. I have used contests in the past to gather subscribers but if this method is used, make sure entrants are able to opt in/out of your newsletter or else you will get many unqualified subscribers who aren't really interested in what you have to say." ~ Nick Leffler, founder of Exprance.
6. Get personal
"Rather than sending out mass mailings to your whole database, segment your lists based on the recipients’ interests. For example, if you are a pet food wholesaler and you have a database for cat owners, you can send a mailer to that database with details of a special cat offer on your website. It’s always useful to build the demographics of your database so you can do more effective marketing through segmentation.Think of this as a “boutique” mailing. Handpick a small list of people with whom you want to develop a relationship. For example, people who fit the profile and persona of your perfect client. You’re not shot-gunning a message to thousands of strangers here, you’re picking out just the right ones because you know they will love doing business with you, and they are right in your wheelhouse. Make sure the piece you send them is highly personalized, so they’ll never forget it. With today’s variable data digital printers, how much you can personalize a mailer is limited only by how much you know about the recipient. Don’t settle for just personalizing their name in the salutation; include their company name and what type of business they are right in your message." ~ Victor Clarke, Be Better, Do More.
7. Use popups to promote special offers
"The strongest email collection method we've experimented with is utilizing lightbox popups. Since email opt-in forms are usually nested in a site's footer or sidebar, lightbox popups make it very easy for users to subscribe to your emails if they choose. We've seen success with including strong offers, such as exclusive discounts, in our lightbox popups. We've also learned a lot through channel segmentation and experimenting with different lightbox popups depending on how the user got to our site." ~ Randy Stocklin is the Co-Founder and CEO of One Click and its three global eyewear brands: Readers.com, Sunglass Warehouse, and felix + iris.
8. Host contests!
"We have had amazing success lately with running contests. Every month we give away a cash prize of 250-500 dollars as well as 5-10 items from our store. We do a ton of promotion on social media and have been averaging over 100 new signups a day. The fantastic part about this is we use a platform so when the customer enters, they get extra points for social sharing it across their network. The results have been off the charts!" ~ Candice Galek, CEO and Founder, BikiniLuxe.
9. Make it really easy
"In addition to collecting addresses at all points of contact, put out signs announcing your ‘text to join’ info, add signup boxes to your website and all social profiles and be sure to be vigilant about collecting cards when out networking. When you receive a card, be sure to ask the person if they want to be added to your email list – do not add any cards you receive without asking. It all comes down to remembering that these are PEOPLE, not just email addresses, and treating them respectfully – as you would any customer, in real life!"~ LisaMarie Dias of LisaMarie Dias Designs works with business owners to leverage social media for profitable growth.
10. Offer free resources that are relevant to your target customer
"Provide something of value to your target customer, for free, and in an immediately consumable format -- such as a downloadable report or ebook. It is important that the resource you provide in exchange for the person’s email address be relevant to your target customer, otherwise you may be collecting email addresses from people who will likely never become a customer of yours. The resource itself must be relatively short, and relieve a person’s immediate pain point.
• Do you operate an indoor playground in Tacoma, WA? Offer a “5 things to do with your kids on a rainy day in Tacoma, WA” guide (and include your business as one of the places to visit).
• Are you a real estate professional in Phoenix, AZ? Offer a “10 housing trends in Phoenix, AZ that every homebuyer needs to know” report. Reports like this are great, as they not only provide immediate value to your potential customer, but the content of the guides can easily be shared across all of your web presence and social media platforms, allowing you to get more bang for your buck!" ~ Tim Maciejewski, a digital media and marketing expert who helps Real Estate Professionals to build their businesses.
11. When all else fails, be proactive and track it down
"Let them give it to you! Traditionally speaking, an individual who ends up on your site is there for a specific reason. They are interested in your products or your content. If your products and content are good enough, you can charge a toll. The toll, in this case, is their email address! Whether it be by requiring an email when making a purchase or requesting an email to continue reading an informative article, this is one of the best ways to naturally get a list of email addresses correlated to your clients. You can also seek them out on social media or on their personal website. You would be surprised to see how many people include their emails on LinkedIn, and their personal websites." ~ Matthew Mercuri, digital marketing manager at Dupray, Inc. a manufacturer of steam-cleaning appliances.
12. Gate your content
"As a B2B company, we always need to find different ways to obtain leads. In other words, we need to do more than cold calling, sourcing lists and attending events, since content is the backbone of our entire marketing strategy. Two surefire ways that we have found to collect existing customer information and new leads, is through our gated content and surveys. Our gated content includes webinars, ebooks, whitepapers, and guides.We host four webinars every month, all of which are gated. Meaning people need to input their contact information to register. We use On24 for these purposes and then input them into our Salesforce account.As for our ebooks, white papers, and guides, we offer about one “large” piece every 2-3 months. We set up both a gated and non-gated landing page: gated for our non-existing clients to collect their information and ungated for existing clients whose info we already have. We create the forms for these landing pages so a customer profile is automatically created for each lead so that we can track what they click on and download.We also have found surveys are a very effective way to obtain email addresses. We run surveys to help us create future content pieces down the road (infographics, guides, blogs, etc.), and as an incentive offer the people the chance to win a gift card if they provide their information. We have found this to be very successful in allowing us to obtain new emails. The key is to distribute it to more than just your database. We use onsite events, social media, and our partner network to distribute the survey so that we are gathering new participants for our database!" ~ Kristen Carvalho, Sr. Content & Social Media Manager, etouches.
13. Ask for it!
"We run a high-tech company but our approach to collecting email addresses from our customers is distinctly low-tech, we ask them for it when they purchase a product or service. We've converted to a fully paperless customer experience so project estimates, progress updates, invoices, and receipts are all done through email. The very next question for a new customer after, "What's your name?" is, "What email address would you like us to use?" I think this emphasizes with the customer how important their email is to us and sometimes we follow-up by explaining it's how we handle all of our communications and documentation. This explanation sometimes leads customers to switch from giving us their "throwaway" email to giving us their primary. For returning customers, we always verify that we have their current email address. The customer's email address is associated with the customer in our billing system which is Zoho Invoice. About 3-4 times a year, we send emails out to all of our customers. For this, we extract the emails from Zoho Invoice to a spreadsheet, do a little clean-up and then upload them to our mass email provider. Customers are of course able to opt-out of those mailings in which case they only receive emails resulting from billing events." ~ Steve Hamrin, owner of Hartland Computer Repair and Campus Computer Repair.
14. Create a sense of urgency
"Your copy should have a unique proposition to decrease users from bouncing instantly. Adding scarcity is also useful for increasing leads. Limited spots available, or a countdown to the end of the deal for signing up will help with impulsive email submits. Once you are getting some emails in your new form, split test everything you can. Colors, headlines, the submit button itself should be getting A/B tested. Optimizely is a great tool for getting started with this." ~ Mike Terry, SEO Lead at Critical Mass.15. Offer a content upgrade"Craft a very actionable blog post that's specific to your audience and worth sharing. A list of tips is always appealing. Then place a line of copy at the beginning and end of the post that offers to send them the list of tips in a printable, pdf form if they enter an email address. It's great because it allows them to take action on the information easily. To make the signup very simple and tempting for the visitor, we include a link in the copy and have a popup with the email signup appear when they click. There are a bunch of options to achieve the “click to popup” but we’re currently using the PopupAlly Pro WordPress plugin." ~ Nicole Heymer, owner of Curio Electro, an online marketing firm that works with design firms and other visual brands.
16. Make your users smarter
"We use education as a carrot to attract new subscribers to our e-newsletter. We do speaking engagements in the community and via webinars and inevitably audience members ask about the costs of our services. I like to use that opportunity as a reminder that we issue a branded e-newsletter called iMpact and that it is a great resource for free tips on how to do marketing. In addition, when visitors land on our website, we have a layover [popup] feature that encourages them to subscribe to iMpact. We learned after about a year of publishing iMpact that our audience clicks the most on the links for our articles (typically "how-to" and "tip" style posts). As a result, we have increased the number of articles we feature in iMpact to give our audience what they engage with most. ~ Randy Mitchelson, VP of sales and marketing at iPartnerMedia.
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