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Five Proven Ways to Build Your Email List

In a nutshell:

  • Make it personal (with your photo)
  • Appeal to reader self-interest
  • Make your list signup prominent
  • Be sure the first email knock their socks off
  • Use split-tests to fine tune your methods

Building a solid email list has become an essential part of doing business online.  But doing it is a lot harder than recommending it. People guard their email addresses because of the tremendous oversupply of junk email out there.

Many website put up a box offering a “Free Newsletter” and think that is all it will take.  Results from that technique are usually disappointing.

I have been testing email sign-up forms for some time on this site and my clients’ sites and have narrowed down the top five ways to get more people to sign up for your email list.

Make it Personal

If you are part of a large company, personalize the communication by putting a photo of the person sending the email near the signup to help make the connection that this will be coming from a person, not just software.  If you happen to be an artist, author, or owner of a small company, this may be a less important detail, but I recommend testing it all the same.

“Why Should I Care?”

You have to give a compelling reason for people to subscribe to your email list.

If you have a report, a whitepaper, or some other digital asset that can be offered as a free download after signing up, that is the best type of offer.  It costs you little or nothing to give away, and yet has value to the recipient. People want something for their information, so make it worthwhile.

Adding a giveaway or some kind of premium usually increases response to the offer between 25-50%.

Don’t Let It Be Missed

If email is an important component to your marketing plan (and it should be), then why would you bury the signup pitch deep in your site?  Put it on the home page (or as many pages as it is appropriate for) and make sure it’s large, clear, and easy to respond to.  Some email marketing services give you the ability to simply create a popup for the user to signup and leave you site open in the window behind it. This has worked very well for us.

Regardless of the method you use for signups, just make sure it’s prominent and hard to miss.

Make a Great First Impression

You know the adage about not getting a second chance at this. It holds true pretty much for email too. Your first message will be the key to whether they stay on your list for more.

Don’t miss the opportunity to create a great “Welcome” letter that reminds them of all the great reasons why they signed up, what they can expect from you and when. Take the time to craft this message carefully and improve it over time as your newsletter or email campaign evolves.

What you don’t want to see are immediate unsubscribes for having received a poor Welcome message, or worse an email that appears unpersonalized out of the blue.

Test Test and Test Again

The only way to be sure what is bringing you the best results in developing email lists, or any marketing activity, is to run split tests. We recommend a random alternation of two or more different versions of your form or web page, and of course keeping good track of which one is bringing you more signups.

One of the best ways to do this is via a free tool that Google provides, the Website Optimizer.   Check out the tutorials to make the most of your time.

This subject is dear to our hearts around here, so we’ll be revisiting it often.  What are your experiences in building email lists?  Please share your thoughts and ideas by commenting here.

One Response to “Five Proven Ways to Build Your Email List”

  1. Linda says:

    This was a super article, Bob!
    Thank you…