The Best Ways to Grow Your Email List — Without Being Annoying

Sep 14, 2017 4:30:10 AM

By Cathy Cain-Blank

Looking to grow your email list? If you’re a marketer, of course you are! The million dollar question, though, is how? You’ve got signup forms on your website and social media channels, and you’ve loaded your customer and prospect lists. Now what?

By now you probably know that building your lists organically is the way to go (and if you don’t, click here), but that doesn’t make the process any easier or less time consuming. Not only that, email marketing databases degrade by about 22.5% every year. If you’re not consistently updating your lists, you won’t just miss out on new prospects and clients, you’ll lose all those people who change companies, alter their email preferences, and/or move to a different email provider.

So what’s a marketer to do?

Here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to grow your email list — without being annoying.

Tap Into Your Sales Staff

We know what you’re thinking — “we already covered this, of course we utilize our customer and prospect lists.” And of course, you should be. But are you using a holistic approach? More importantly, do you have a streamlined email marketing program, or are sales and marketing emails completely different? If the latter is the case, it’s time for a change. Whether your sales staff tries to keep their contacts close to the vest or are constantly pushing marketing to send more emails to boost sales, you’ve got to get everyone on the same page.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a personalized email from a salesperson to a particular customer, or an email newsletter from your company that goes out to all your lists, you can’t just blast out the same old messages over and over again. You need an overarching plan, a strategy that ties in the desires of your sales team, your organizational goals, and your customers’ needs. Don’t simply get sales and marketing on the same page, build trust between them. Facilitate dialogue that helps both sides understand what the other is trying to accomplish. Marry sales data to marketing’s customer lifecycle stages. Get sales involved in content creation, and encourage them to share like marketing does. When everyone is delivering the same clear, concise message, customers will notice. You’ll incentivize loyal customers and entice dormant ones to come back. Most of all, it’s far more likely that your current subscribers will recommend you and forward your emails to new and potential prospects.

Show — No, Scream — the Value You’re Delivering

Email has been around for so long, it’s almost become an afterthought. Social and mobile and whatever else is the hot new thing get all the buzz, but email still matters. It’s proven, it’s effective, it delivers ROI, and it offers great visibility — unlike social and some of the newer more “techy” things, literally everyone in every industry uses email to do business. But, again, you can’t send off any old email and expect people to open it. You have to provide value, and it has to be value beyond the event or sale or promotion you’re having.

That’s not to say that emails highlighting your company and the special offers you’re offering don’t have their place. You should obviously keep sending those. But they can’t be the only thing you send. If you truly want to grow your email list, you have to make sure your emails deliver. You have to show your target audience that they are truly missing out if they don’t open that email. Think about all the emails you’ve opted into. Some of them you pass by and rarely give a second glance (unless you see a really compelling subject line). Others you always open, no matter what. What is it about those emails that always make you click? More than likely, it’s because you know there’s something in it for you.

Got a blog? Be sure to regularly share that content via an email newsletter. Show people how you’re a thought leader in your industry. Give them ideas and actionable items they can use in their day-to-day business dealings. Don’t have seasoned writers on your staff or the time to create content? Curate it! Find and share useful news, notes, and nuggets that showcase the things your audience cares about most. Again, the idea here is to show that you’re the go-to when people want to know what going on in their industry. You know what they say, time is money. If your emails deliver all the news and know-how (and give people all the information they used to get from multiple sources), people will be far more likely to subscribe to your list.

Other Ways to Grow Email Lists That You May Not Thought Of

If you want to grow your email list, you’ve got to make it easy to sign up for it. More than that, your opt-in form has to be highly visible and prominent. Got social media icons on your website to point people to your channels? That’s great, but your email signup should be even more noticeable. Social fans and followers are valuable, but not as important as your email subscribers. Why? People use social when they want to, and the social sites themselves deliver content how and to whom they want (ever try to figure out Facebook’s algorithm?), so you never know what people will see when they click on the social icons on your site. When they click on your email signup form, however, you’re getting an opportunity to deliver timely, valuable information when and how you want.

Not only should your email signup form be everywhere — headers, footers, sidebars, within content, etc. — it should be impossible to miss. Yes, this means popups and popovers and all those other things people say they hate. As annoying as many people think they are, they are proven to be effective. The key is to use them effectively and sparingly, and only once per session. Also, make sure they’re compelling, concise, and, again, delivering value. In other words, not annoying.

Want to really deliver value? Offer gated content — a whitepaper, case study, video, etc. — in exchange for an email address. In B2B marketing, decision makers have certain issues they need to solve or address. A well-researched and well-thought-out piece of gated content can help with that, allowing you to create a strong relationship with your customers and prospects. The more in-depth and detailed you get, the more you’ll be able to attract more people and grow your email list. Want a simpler route? Run a contest where entrants have to submit their email address to participate. This can be as easy as asking a trivia question or for a vote in a poll. Give away logoed company merchandise or another type of gift that you know your audience would be interested in. Just be sure to keep the contest closely related to your business or industry. You want the people who enter (and the subsequent emails you collect) to have a genuine interest in who you are and what you do, and not participate solely for the prize.

Finally, as much as you want to build your lists organically, you can consider using resources like Hoovers to gather industry and financial data. Then, you can reach out to the prospects you find valuable and ask them to opt into your list. You’re not buying a list per se, just accelerating the search for potential buyers.

Ready to grow your email list and increase the effectiveness of your email program? We’re here to help. Contact us today!