The recent Facebook news of its data being comprised is a great reminder of how important it is for businesses to own the platform in which they communicate to their customers. In many cases, that's in the form of an email.
Building your email list should be a top priority if your goal is to communicate regularly with your customers. Like phone numbers, though, convincing someone to give you their email address isn't easy since no one wants to receive spam.
Here are ten easy ways to build your email list:
1. Get an accountability buddy.
Make it a competition and ask a non-competing business to grow your respective lists. At the end of each month, check in and see how much you've grown your list and what you've done.
2. Use social media.
For its recent ills, social media is still an important part of many of our marketing plans. It'd be foolish to abandon them right now. Include a link on all of your social media pages to your subscription page so your fans can opt in. Provide an incentive for them to share their emails. Some platforms (like Facebook) allow you to add this option through a third-party app.
3. Reconnect with inactive subscribers.
Some email service providers are able to generate a list of recipients who haven't opened your emails. Consider these your low-hanging fruit since they've opted in to receive your information. Ask them if the information you're sending doesn't appeal to them anymore or if it's hitting their Spam box. It doesn't do your company any good to boast a high number of subscribers if they're not opening your emails. Having a cleaner list is more important.
4. Sharing is caring.
Does your email include carefully-curated content that might be of interest beyond the recipient? If so, ask if they'd consider sharing your email with someone else who might find the information useful. Aim to make one e-newsletter a month "share-worthy" and test its impact.
Not all your content needs to be original. I often use my blog posts as email fodder, for example. It's not only a time-saver, but provides richer content for an email which makes it more likely to be shared.
6. Do an email list exchange.
This can be tricky because it largely depends on how you acquired the emails. You don't want to sell your list to another business since that's often foolish and might be violating the terms with which you gathered those emails. However, you can offer to send an email from another business to your list (and encourage your customers to sign up for their emails) in exchange for the same courtesy by the other business.
Test this with a few businesses that complement yours and see if your list bump is worth exploring more of these opportunities. I've done this with a handful of business with great success, especially when our core target market is similar.
7. Business cards.
This inexpensive and small printed piece has been all but forsaken by many businesses, which is unfortunate since it's also quite effective. If it's too much trouble to add a "subscribe to our newsletter" message to your core business card, consider printing one where it's the only message. I have one business card devoted to all of my social media accounts and to encourage people to subscribe to my email list. It's a cost-effective and easy way to let customers know how to stay in contact with you.
8. Pitch yourself to podcast hosts.
Podcast hosts are always looking for great people to interview and it's often easier to get air time since there are so many great podcasts out there right now. While on, remind listeners they can sign up for your emails. Ask the host to include that information to their show notes online so customers can find you long after the podcast airs.
9. Ask for emails at every encounter.
Ask for emails from attendees who come to special events, at check-out, on your blog, guest blog posts, any touch point that makes sense. Consider every opportunity to engage with customers as an opportunity to ask for their email address and remind them of the benefit of subscribing.
10. Welcome new subscribers.
If someone has gone through the trouble of sharing one of their most precious pieces of data with you, say thank you and welcome them. You can also use the opportunity to ask them if they have any friends who might appreciate the email as well.
Building a solid email list for your business will take time and is something that doesn't have an end date. It's time well spent as it's one of the best, easiest and cost-effective ways to communicate with your audience.