Now, I know you've been told by 900 email marketers, "Don't buy lists." Let me be the 901st - Don't buy lists! (Tweet This!) While buying lists may seem the simplest, quickest solution to growing your database, it will complicate your email efforts in the long run and can potentially land you on a blacklist. I don't want you wasting your time running re-engagement campaigns and sacrificing good contacts when you could be generating revenue. For more detail on the dangers of purchasing lists, check out Hubspot's article, "Why Purchasing Email Lists Is Always a Bad Idea."
To avoid buying lists, here are 6 simple efforts that will help you grow an active and engaged database:
1. Make the signup easy to find on your site.
Your customers and prospects spend a ton of time on your website. According to IDG Connect, buyers spend 56% of the buying cycle searching for and engaging with content (Tweet This!). During this exploration, customers and prospects will likely try to get more information passively and independently - like through your emails. Make this an easy task for them. Include email sign-up clearly in the navigation or footer of your website. This ensures it is visible on every page of the site, giving your prospects and customers the opportunity to sign-up during any part of the buying process.
2. Add a lightbox/pop-up.
Another simple, yet effective, way to build your list is to add a pop-up or lightbox for email sign-ups upon entrance to the website. This works best for medium-sized companies, as site visitors are less likely to be familiar with the people who represent your company and brand. Very small companies may want to test this more carefully, as it may seem impersonal.
3. Brick and Mortar Signups.
For small businesses, this is a very important tactic. With trade shows as well as in-store paper sign-ups, these individuals have demonstrated an interest in you already. Make sure to capture their email addresses and add them to your list right away. These customers require a more immediate and personalized welcome email. Make sure you send them a welcome message within 1-2 days - before they forget about their personal interaction with you. Don't wait until your next monthly newsletter to onboard them. (Tweet This)
4. Integrate with social.
There should be an easy link on all your social profiles encouraging followers, fans, like-ers, and connections to keep in touch via your marketing emails. There are apps that can be integrated with the different systems to help generate these signups and add them to your database. (e.g. Silverpop and Bronto) When you hear people talk about "integrated marketing," this is what they mean.
5. Make email mandatory.
Whether you have a CRM system with marketing automation or a more straightforward Email Service Provider (ESP), it's important that email is a mandatory field for all online forms your customers fill out. Work with your ESP to get these forms connected, so that every online visitor that submits a form is captured for your database.
6. Forward to a Friend additions.
Any friend of a subscriber is a friend of mine - or yours, in this case. When one of your subscribers forwards your email to a friend (using the Forward to a Friend button or link within an email), that "friend" is now a part of your database. So make sure the Forward to a Friend link is very obvious in the email design. Like the brick and mortar sign-ups, onboard these people. Give them a clean welcome email, with a very obvious option to unsubscribe. You may even want to mention the friend that referred them to bolster your credibility.
Looking for more great email marketing tips? Another great resource, with a whole section on growing your list is "The Rebel's Guide to Email Marketing" by DJ Waldow and Jason Falls. Let them know I sent you (Tweet This!).