Email marketing is a great way for small businesses to reach a wide customer base -- and the more you can grow your email list, the more potential leads you can generate. It's especially important to keep up with your list growth efforts, as your contact database can become outdated over time.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can implement to make up for those lost contacts, as well as gain new ones. We asked a group of successful entrepreneurs to share their favorite creative ways small business owners can grow their email lists. Here are their top recommendations for adding to your subscriber base.
Partner with other brands.
Not every business that's targeting the same audience as you is a direct competitor. Why not find some of those businesses and join forces to benefit both of your email lists?
"Lean heavily on cobranded partnerships with other brands that have similar target audiences to yours but aren't competitive in what you are selling," says Colin Darretta, founder of WellPath. "This audience cross-pollination is extremely effective, and sweepstakes, contests and giveaways can be an excellent way to barter audiences among brands."
Get involved in community events.
If your small business is still establishing itself, Rana Gujral, CEO of Behavioral Signals, recommends getting involved in community events as a way to grow your email list.
"Being involved allows you to be exposed to people you may not normally be seen by, and in turn, it makes for an easy transition into obtaining their email address," says Gujral.
Create a 'members only' space.
Membership models use gated content to spark the interest of viewers and get their contact information for later use, says Stephanie Wells, founder of Formidable Forms.
"Being part of a community makes people feel special, so using a membership to create this is a great marketing tactic to grow your email list," Wells says. "It also gives you further information on your audience so you can market to them effectively."
Gamify your coupon or discount offers.
By now, most customers know the old "give your email address in exchange for a coupon" tactic. Andy Karuza, founder of FenSens, recommends taking this one step further by gamifying the whole process.
"While it's always important to incentivize somebody to provide their email with news, discounts, etc., the standard methods are getting lower conversion rates, so you have to get creative with new tactics," Karuza explains. "This is why I like tools like Wheelio -- it makes it fun for visitors."
Run a social media campaign.
Social media can be a great place to find new email subscribers, especially since your followers are already interested in seeing your content.
A strategic social media campaign with a great call to action can help you generate tons of email subscribers. Just ask Kristin Kimberly Marquet, founder of Marquet Media, LLC, who used Pinterest to grow her email list to over 100,000 in less than three years.
"I wrote a blog post with a pretty Pin, compelling headline and strong call to action with an enticing lead magnet linking back to the blog post," Marquet explains.
Run a contest.
Everyone likes to be a winner, says Sean Walsh, CEO of Walcraft Cabinetry -- and that's why contest marketing is a brilliant way to grow your email list. You can have people enter your contest by sharing their email, and one lucky winner gets a prize.
"Contests can be run locally, regionally or nationally via social media," Walsh notes. "There are many apps that can be used to help your contest go viral."
Ask consumers what they want to see.
Every marketer knows that segmenting your campaigns and tailoring them to the specific interests and behaviors of your audience is a smart way to get targeted results. Rather than collecting email addresses and segmenting them yourself later, John Turner, founder of SeedProd LLC, recommends letting consumers self-segment right from the start.
"Instead of asking consumers to sign up for your generic email newsletter, ask them what kind of content they want to see from you in the future," Turner says. "Their decision will help you segment your lead lists and deliver personalized content. This tactic will get you more subscribers because consumers love personalization and are more willing to subscribe to brands that use this practice."