Email marketing can be one of your most valuable forms of marketing. For every $1 you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return of $36. You can utilize email to attract and nurture potential customers as well as build loyalty and keep existing customers engaged.
One of the first steps to developing an email marketing strategy is building your email list. What is the best way for your business to collect emails? And what do you do with them after you have them? Read on for our advice when it comes to email list building.
Choose an Email Service Provider
To fully leverage your email marketing, you’ll need to choose the right platform. An email service provider manages your contacts, sending, and reporting. There are many providers to choose from, like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, Omnisend, or Drip.
Each provider has different strengths and weaknesses. Most will offer tiered monthly plans to match your budget and the number of emails you are sending. You should research which software would best fit your business. Some capabilities you may want to consider:
- Creating sign-up forms
- Building email templates
- Tracking and monitoring email performance
- Segmenting subscribers based on data
- Sending automated emails
Once you’ve selected an email service provider, you can begin building your email list.
No, You Don’t Want to Buy Emails
It’s tempting for many business owners and marketers to build a list fast. But purchasing a list, or even obtaining a free list online, can damage your email marketing efforts in the long run.
Here are a few of the reasons why it’s not worth it to purchase an email list:
- They are not your target audience.
- Their email has likely been sold elsewhere.
- People who did not join your email list are more likely to unsubscribe or mark your email as spam – hurting your sender reputation.
Sender reputation is the reputation of the IP address you use to send emails. This IP address signals to email inbox providers (like Gmail or Yahoo) whether or not you’re a spammer. Your sender reputation is based on the quality of your content and the quality of your contacts. Also, it considers the engagement levels of your previous emails.
Spam complaints are one of the greater negative influences on your sender score. Every spam complaint is a signal to internet service providers (ISPs) that users do not trust your company. A low sender reputation lowers your delivery rate to legitimate email subscribers.
Ultimately, your money used to purchase an email list is better spent elsewhere — like digital ads aiming to increase email sign-ups.
Collect Emails With a Standard Opt-In
One of the simplest ways to collect email subscribers is by using an embedded opt-in form on your website. Traditionally, this is in the footer, a sticky header, sidebar, or other highly-visible portion of the page. For example, our email opt-in for Exchange Answers is in the right sidebar of this post.
The benefit of using an embedded sign-up form is that it’s non-intrusive for your website visitors. It’s a simple reminder to visitors that they have the option to join your email list. The form is static, so it stays in one place. Your visitors are not forced to interact with the form.
- Pros: It’s simple to implement on your website and is non-intrusive to visitors.
- Cons: Because it’s a non-intrusive, static element, visitors might overlook the form.
Collect Emails With a Website Pop-Up
This is a widely-used method to collect emails — maybe you’ve recently interacted with a pop-up email opt-in. Mailchimp reports email list growth rate increases by an average of 50.8% after clients implemented a pop-up form.
There are a few different types of pop-ups you can utilize on your site:
- A welcome pop-up will greet your website visitors within 15 seconds of when they land on your site.
- An exit pop-up tries to recapture a visitor’s attention as they are about to navigate away from your site.
- A scrolling or promotional pop-up appears while your visitor is browsing. For example, you could have a pop-up appear for anyone who scrolls to a certain point on the page.
Unlike an embedded opt-in form, your website visitors are forced to engage with a pop-up. If it doesn’t include a strong call-to-action, your visitors may consider the pop-up disruptive and click away. You should immediately communicate the value of joining your email list.
You can encourage email sign-ups by offering an incentive. For example, “sign up for email” is not as enticing as “get $10 off your next order.” You can offer incentives like coupons, instructional ebooks, PDFs, or other free gifts.
Collect Emails With Landing Pages
A landing page is built separately from your website and is designed to get your visitors to take action. Usually, you would direct traffic from ads to a landing page. For example, you could run a Facebook ad that leads to your landing page for a free price quote. Then, you would collect emails from customers interested in the quote.
A variation of the same idea would be to create a “squeeze page” that requires information (like an email sign-up) from your website visitors before they access the desired content. Instead of traffic from an ad, this page could get traffic from your website. For example, a plastic surgeon may utilize a squeeze page before allowing visitors to view their pricing page. Potential patients who wish to see pricing would have to enter their email first.
Offers you could feature on your landing pages include:
- Exclusive sales or coupon offer
- Ebook, PDFs, and other downloadable resources
- Gated company information like pricing, research, or white papers
Collect Emails at the Point of Sale
A natural opportunity to collect your customer’s email is at their time of purchase. For online orders, you can require the customer to provide their email for order updates. At the same time, you can have them choose to opt-in or opt-out of promotional emails from your business.
Collecting emails at the point of sale can also happen offline. For example, a retailer might invite you to join their customer loyalty program by signing up for email. You can coach your employees to ask for customer email addresses and clearly explain the benefits of your email program.
Offline List Building
In addition to collecting emails at the point of sale, there are a couple of other opportunities where you can request emails from your customers offline:
- Events: Invite attendees to join your email list by offering similar incentives as your online sign-ups.
- Giveaways: Offer a prize at an event or trade show that can only be won by joining your email list.
It’s important to keep in mind when you collect emails offline that they are spelled correctly. Misspelled emails cannot be delivered and negatively impact your sender reputation. And you should always confirm you have consent from the customer to send emails.
Organizing Your Email List
Email management includes having a strategy for managing your audience tags and segments, as well as regularly cleaning the contacts in your list. Managing your email list creates a more personal experience for your subscribers and can increase your return on investment.
A “clean” email list is one that does NOT include contacts that hard bounce, frequently soft bounce, rarely engage with your emails, or did not sign up for your emails. A bounce is when your email is undeliverable to a particular address.
A large email list with low engagement, frequent bounces, or many unsubscribers can harm your sender reputation. This would lower your email deliverability — resulting in fewer authentic subscribers receiving your email. Regularly removing or “cleaning” these contacts from your list maintains your positive sender reputation.
Tags, Segments, and Personalization
Tagging your email contacts and assigning them to segments will help you personalize the emails you send. For example, an insurance agency could segment their email list by whether the client is a business or an individual. Additionally, they could tag their clients based on which state the policy is written in.
Tags and segments allow you to send more specific emails to smaller groups of your entire audience. As you collect emails, you should make an effort to organize other data about your contacts to make personalization easier. For example:
- Collect first names with your email sign-ups
- Tag contacts that claim coupons or offers
- Tag contacts that engage with lead magnet content
- Segment emails based on where they signed up (on your blog, at point-of-purchase, from landing pages, etc.)
- Segment emails based on customer behavior (like product or service purchased)
Next Steps for Your Email List
Once you’ve collected a subscriber’s email address, you should work to retain it. If you don’t nurture your leads, then all the efforts you took to acquire them are useless. One thing you can do at the start is set up a welcome series to introduce new subscribers to your brand.
You can use your email list to communicate:
- Discounts, sales, or special offers
- Exclusive content
- New or best-selling products
- Success stories
- And more
Your subscribers will stay if you continue to offer something of value to them. Sixty percent of consumers say they’ve made a purchase as the result of a marketing email they received — compared to only 12.5 percent of consumers who say they’d consider using the “buy” button on social media. Taking the time to nurture your leads via email can positively impact your business.
We’ll Do It For You
If you want help with your email list, let’s chat. We help many of our clients build an email list and develop their email marketing strategies. We’re happy to brainstorm with you about how email could positively impact your business.