9 Ideas for Building Your Email List

When you first get started with email marketing, it's normal to have a smaller list. It takes a concerted effort to get in the habit of asking for email addresses. There are people who have been email marketing for years and still aren't taking advantage of all the opportunities they have to grow their list. Don't let that be you!

Here are a few simple things that you can do to build your list:

Put a "Join My Email List" sign-up box on your website. Constant Contact and other email marketing service providers make it easy for you to do this. And it's important that you do. Your website is the first place most people look when they want information about your business. It's great when they visit your website, but are you capturing their email addresses? Don't miss the chance to start building a relationship with them.

Ask your customers for their email addresses and permission. Whether it's over the phone or in person, don't forget to tell customers about your email communications and ask if you can add them to your list. If you have a physical store, put out a sign-up book in a prominent place. If your business is internet-based and your only customer communication is through email, send them a follow-up email after an order and ask if they want to join your list. If you have employees who interact with customers, train them to ask as well.

Ask those you meet when networking and at trade shows to join. When you meet people at networking events and trade shows tell them about your free e-newsletter or your email-only specials and ask them if they would like to join your list.

202: Beyond the Basics
Want to take it to the next level? Here are some creative ideas that you can put into practice:

Offer incentives for signing up. It's amazing how a freebie or a chance to win a prize can be just what a person needs to "take the plunge" and sign up for your email list. Your giveaway doesn't have to be costly; it can be as simple as sharing your expertise in the form of a free whitepaper or guide. Make it clear to those who sign up that they will be added to your list.

Run a "Forward to a Friend Contest." In your email newsletter, let your contacts know that if they use the "Forward to a Friend" link to send this month's newsletter to at least one new recipient, they will be entered into a drawing for a prize. One of the many useful things about using an email marketing service provider is that you can see which subscribers forwarded your email to a friend. With that knowledge, you can easily run the contest.

Partner with a related business or organization. Think of a business or organization that is related to your business, but not a competitor. You can work together to promote each other's email communications to your customers. Some good partnership examples are a tax accountant and a financial planner, a public relations firm and a website designer, or a theater and a nearby restaurant. Highlight your partner as a guest writer in your newsletter and ask that they do the same for you. At the end of each article, invite readers to join that author's email list.

Include a "Join My Email List" link in all online content. Do you have articles on your website or on other websites? Do you have your own blog? This is another great opportunity to add people to your list. Include a link that takes readers to your sign-up page. Your copy could read, "Like this article? Get more like it in your inbox. Subscribe today for our monthly e-newsletter."

Include a "Join My Email List" link at the bottom of your email signature. This is great advertisement and it's free. Add one line that describes the benefits of your newsletter or email promotions like, "Get our monthly newsletter with tips on how to grow your business" or "Receive weekly coupons for exclusive discounts."

Promote your email communications in all printed materials (including your business cards!). It's easy to forget about email when doing a printed piece. Whether it's a brochure or a direct mail postcard, don't forget to add a line asking the receiver to sign up for your free newsletter. Business cards are a great place for a quick promo as well.

By putting some of these tactics into action, you will see your list increase over the months and years to come. More contacts mean more opportunities to bring in new customers and build lasting relationships with them.

by Gail Goodman, Constant Contact CEO www.constantcontact.com. (Many top spas use Constant Contact for their email marketing campaigns.)

Gail Goodman, the CEO of Constant Contact, is a dynamic speaker and author, as well as an expert in small business and marketing. She has been featured in numerous online and offline publications including Fortune Small Business, Entrepreneur, Small Business Technology Magazine, Inc. Magazine, CNN, and the Boston Business Journal.