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How to Build Your Email List: A Brief Guide for Small Business Owners

All small business owners need to harness multiple marketing methods. Traditional marketing, like radio spots and magazine ads, is both expensive and less effective than it once was. Today, you need to harness the power of tools like social media marketing, blogging and, of course, email marketing.


As Forbes mentions, “Despite how effective and affordable email is, there is one critical requirement for email marketing success. You will need subscribers.” You need to ensure that you’re marketing the right way through email, which means you need your customers’ permission before you start messaging them.


Building an email list is the way to do that, but how do you create an email list? We’ll look at some of the best ways in this brief guide.


Make Sure You Have the Right Incentive


In order to convince people to sign up for your email list, you will most likely need an incentive of some type. It’s true that some businesses don’t need any form of incentive, other than the promise to keep customers up to date on things, but most do. What can you use for an incentive? Actually, there are plenty of different options. Reports and whitepapers make excellent incentives, as do ebooks and guides. Whatever you use should be substantial enough that your audience finds value in it, but not so much so that you’re “giving away the farm” or that you’re draining your profitability in creating it in the first place.


Visible Sign Up Form


Your audience can’t sign up for your email list if the signup form isn’t visible. Make sure you place your form signup area prominently on your website. You also need to make it clear what the signup is about – what does your customer or potential customer gain from signing up? Don’t be coy about it, either. Put it out there. Your call to action should be clear, succinct, and compelling, not flirty or “beating about the bush”. You should also consider adding your signup form or a link to it at least in multiple areas of your website. Place one in the header and footer of every page on your site. Create specific landing pages, and then link to them on social media sites. Get creative.


Consider a Joint Venture


If you really want to build an email list, consider embarking on a joint venture. Essentially, this is a partnership with another company within your vertical that’s related to you, but doesn’t offer exactly the same thing. For instance, suppose you were a photographer and wrote a book about how to use Photoshop for beginners. You could approach Adobe directly about a joint venture. Your book could be sold as a standalone product, and it could also be chosen as part of a bundle when new buyers signed up. Every time a purchase was made, you’d gain another customer’s contact information for your email list, as well as a sale. The real beauty of this is that it’s not a once and done sort of thing. Once you have the email address of those customers, it’s yours to keep. You can use it down the road should you have another product that might interest them.


Add Signup into Your Forms


Does your website require that users create an account in order to access specific areas? This can be an excellent opportunity to include an email sign up area. In fact, most consumers won’t think twice about providing their email address as part of the overall signup process, and then you have access to that address for your marketing needs.


Of course, you’ll need to include a permission box for them to check showing that they agree to receive periodic email communications from your company, but, again, most consumers won’t bat an eye at this during the account creation process. The beauty of this method is that it works for any website where an account is needed – it doesn’t have to be to access content behind a paywall or anything like that. Free websites can use it just as easily as paid sites can.


Embed the Signup Form


People hate having to go to a new page to complete an action. In fact, many of them will opt out once they realize that they have to change pages. To get around that challenge (and double your opt-in rate), embed the signup form in the website page itself. It could be something as simple as:


Sign up for updates from us!

[email input box]

Subscribe Now (button)


Your customer simply adds their email to the box and clicks the button. It really is that simple. You remove hurdles from the signup process and make your customers happy that they don’t need to change pages.


Add It to Your Printed Collateral


While print marketing might be less effective than in years gone by, you still use a great deal of printed collateral in your business. You have business cards, letterhead and receipts, for instance. You can use those to your advantage. Make sure you add a prompt to join your email list to all of your printed collateral and you’ll have yet another avenue to grow that list. Of course, you’ll see less traction from printed material than from online options, but it’s an important element to exploit.


These are just a few of the ways that you can start building an email list for your small business. It doesn’t have to be a difficult challenge – you can slowly build your number of contacts, communicate with them, and build strong relationships while enhancing your brand’s value and market share.


Categories: Online Marketing