Of all marketing tools, your email list remains the most powerful and valuable. In terms of ROI, Facebook, Twitter, video and SEO can't compare in getting customers to take action. Of course, if you don't have a robust list, then it's tough to capitalize.

An active email list of 25,000 or more is a valuable asset. It can help generate new revenue and maintain customer loyalty. But first you have to get people to sign on. Building and cultivating an email list requires focus, diligence and patience, but it's not rocket science. You just have to get people to be fans of what you have to offer. I recently consulted with the smart people at one of the top email management companies, FanBridge. They happily collaborated on nine great ways to grow your list right away.

1. Promote Valuable Content

Don't expect to be given an email address just for existing. People need a reason to subscribe. The best way to show them you are worth the extra mailing is to provide amazing content initially. Submit polished, compelling material to targeted websites and blogs as guest posts. Be sure to include a call to action and a link to join your email list at the end of the article. If your content impresses, some people will want more and will join your list to get it. You can offer exclusive new content to sweeten the pot. Oh, and make sure the delivery mechanism works, so they don't get angry. Some email list management programs, including FanBridge, make it easy to automatically give people a special e-book, mp3, photo, coupon, video or other type of file once they join your list.

2. Network Through Online Communities

You don't have to wait for people to come to you. LinkedIn groups and other communities are great places to show people you have valuable things to say. If people are conversing with you and responding, don't be afraid to ask if you can add them to your list. Do it politely and be willing to take no for an answer. Most will say yes if you demonstrate that you are smart and entertaining.

3. Find Offline Hotspots of Potential Subscribers

Don't focus only on online followers. Get out in the world. Your potential sign-ups attend many real-world events and trade shows. Have a presence and make it easy for people to join your list. Let them add their name manually on a piece of paper, drop a business card or use mobile devices. Use creative contests, gifts or offerings to make it worth their while.

4. Trade Promotion With Other List Holders

As your list grows, it becomes currency to others who have a following. Reach out to the owners of those lists, and see if they are willing to trade content and shout-outs. You can give them an article or even a few lines with a link in your mailing in exchange for the same in theirs.  Cross-promotion is a great way to find new, targeted people to join your list.

5. Tease and Attract

Whenever you broadcast, post or email, share briefly with your other audiences that you just sent valuable information to your subscribers. Highlight the value they missed. Then include a link to join your list so people don't miss out the next time. Find a clever and humorous way to draw attention to the content.

6. Let Your Website Do the Work

There are many tools available that let you create splash pages, pop-up boxes, pop-down bars, hover boxes and similar effects that put your email capture form right in front of your visitors. More visibility means more sign-ups. This doesn't mean you should assault your visitors the second they come to your site. Wait for the second or third pageview of the visit, or trigger it to appear after several seconds to only hit up really engaged visitors.

7. Link From All of Your YouTube Videos

What's the point of marketing with video if you don't capture fans of your videos?  A YouTube channel is a great top-of-funnel traffic driver. At the end of each of your videos, make sure you have an end card and a linked annotation (to your Associated Website) to join your list. You should also add this same call to action in your video description copy.

8. Just Ask

You would be surprised how many opportunities to grow a list are missed simply because no one thought to ask. Often the email sign-up form is buried on a website or not existent. Any time you put yourself in front of the public, be it in person, on Facebook, Twitter or in a mailing, you should simply just ask your audience to join your list--and make it prominent. Why put the onus on them?

9. Make the Sign-Up Simple

It's bad enough we have to use the Captcha program to keep spammer bots away, so don't make the sign-up process worse by asking for life stories and names of first-born children to subscribe. Keep it simple by asking for a name, email address and perhaps company name if appropriate. Once they are loyal followers, you can always survey them for more information.

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