How to Build a Bigger, Better Email List

(Updated June 2017)
Growing a quality email list is one of the most important (and most challenging) aspects of email-marketing success. Start by reviewing your current strategies for building email lists with the goal of discovering new ways to improve.

Email lists are a vital part of your overall email-marketing strategy. Current trends indicate that emails are effective in increasing sales and customer engagement with your brand. According to a survey conducted by MarketingSherpa, 72% of consumers reported that email is their preferred form of communication with companies, whereas 91% said they like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. In addition, over 60% of the survey respondents said that they would like to receive promotional emails at least weekly.

Quality Trumps Quantity for Email Lists

Due to list attrition, a typical email list loses as much as 25% of its email subscribers every year. List attrition happens for myriad reasons, such as people getting new business email addresses (because they change jobs), personal email addresses (to switch Internet service providers), or unsubscribe because they are no longer interested in the products/services you offer. That means that you need to find ways to continuously attract new subscribers to your list.

When it comes to the elements that are key to successful email campaigns, the quality of the email list is primary. A recent survey showed that while global email marketers rated data/list quality first among factors that influence email response rates, list size was rated as having the least impact out of the 10 factors studied. So, as you consider implementing new list-building methods, it’s important to ensure not only that you’re attracting more subscribers, but also that those subscribers have the potential to become valuable customers in the future.

How to Build an Email List of High Quality Subscribers

Are you doing everything you can to create an email list of quality subscribers? To answer that, consider the following questions about your current list-building program:

  • Do you make it easy for prospects and customers to sign up and share their email address with your company? Begin by looking at all the touch points in your company’s sales funnel to be sure you’re providing ample opportunities for people to sign up to receive your emails. For example, consider your website visitors. Do you have an opt-in form prominently displayed on the home page? Are there opt-in forms both above and below the fold? Do you have opt-in forms on all landing pages of your website? Try testing various locations for the forms to opt in – such as in the navigation bar or right sidebar versus upper left sidebar, alone or in combination – to see what drives the highest conversion rates.
  • Are your sign up forms quick and simple for prospective subscribers to complete? Do you really need any information beyond a prospect’s name and email address? Typically, the more information you ask for, the less likely a prospect will complete your form. In fact, one study found that adding just 1 field in an opt-in form decreased sign ups by 11%. Check out this NewsLever article for best practices on how to design opt-in forms that convert.
  • Are you giving people a compelling reason that encourages email signups? Let potential subscribers know from the start what’s in it for them. Whether you provide exclusive discounts, a monthly email newsletter packed with valuable industry tips, or other types of information that would be relevant and of value to your email subscribers, include a benefit-centric description within or nearby your sign-up forms.
  • Do you run referral email campaigns? A referral email campaign is a great way to get new leads and grow your email list, however, it’s not always so easy to get it right. Be sure to check out this article for tried-and-true optimization tips to help increase the results from your next referral campaign: “Referral Email Campaigns—6 Ways to Boost Your New Customer Acquisition by as Much as 25%.
  • Have you tried offering an incentive to capture new subscribers for your mailing list? For example, collect email addresses in return for a white paper, e-book, email templates, webinar, or online tool (e.g., FulcrumTech’s ROI Goalsetter®) that provides information of value to your target audience. Running a contest or drawing for a prize is also an example of how you can help entice people to sign up for your email list. Be aware, however, that people may give you their email addresses to try to win a great prize but not be remotely interested in ever purchasing your products or services.
  • Do you keep mobile users in mind when designing sign-up forms? With so many people using mobile devices to browse websites and answer emails today, using mobile-friendly design for your opt-in forms and landing pages is important. Keep your sign-up forms simple and the amount of information requested to a minimum, for example, so joining your email list is a quick and easy process. Check out a recent NewsLever feature – “Mobile Email Marketing Best Practices” – for more information about mobile-friendly design.
  • Have you tried using quick-response (QR) codes on print marketing materials to encourage people to join your email list? As we described in a previous NewsLever article, QR codes are two-dimensional, matrix bar codes that can be scanned by smartphone users to quickly link to your organization’s opt-in page. In addition to including QR codes on print ads, consider adding them on such offline sources as order forms, receipts, business cards, product packaging, restaurant table toppers, and billboards.
  • Do you offer sign-up forms on other platforms, including your social media sites, blogs, and YouTube videos? Take advantage of the opportunity to bring in more email subscribers from social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Highlight the benefits they’ll receive by subscribing for your email communications versus what they get through the social website. You may also consider social log-in (also known as social sign-in), which uses potential subscribers’ existing social media log-in information to sign in to your website and sign up to get your emails, as well. In addition, your organizational blog is another great place to include an email sign up form. Encourage people to subscribe to your email list on YouTube, as well, by including URLs and calls to action in your videos.
  • Have you asked your current email subscribers to share your content? Your subscribers are interested in your brand and are probably willing to share your content and promotions with friends and colleagues. For example, Quick Sprout has found that their email subscribers are 3 to 9 times more likely to share the company’s content on their social networks compared to other website visitors. So, urge your subscribers to share your content, and make it easy for them to do so, by including prominent social-sharing buttons in your emails and website content.
  • Have you tried giving your email list size a boost with paid advertising? Your email list may be growing quite nicely with organic traffic. But if you want to jumpstart your email-list growth, consider using some paid advertising. Using a pay-per-click model, the Google AdWords platform allows companies to create ads that appear on Google’s search. And, depending on your audience and product, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter may also provide good sources for paid traffic from ads.
  • Have you tried popup or popover sign-up forms to grow your email list? As a supplement to your website forms, a popover will help your invitation to subscribe stand out even more. Although many people may find popovers annoying, they work! But beware: Google has recently been cracking down on pop-up forms. Google now penalizes the mobile search rankings of websites that use pop-up ads or email capture lightboxes. According to Google’s Official Webmaster’s Blog, the company’s mobile search is targeting “intrusive interstitials” that interfere with the accessibility of a web page’s content. Click here for additional information about pop-up techniques to avoid. Plus, for some tips about how to incorporate popups and popovers into your list-building repertoire, be sure to check out a recent NewsLever feature on the topic.
  • Do you immediately send a welcome email to prospects and customers who sign up for your email list? Welcome emails are an essential part of successful email programs. And, sending the first welcome email in real time (immediately after a subscriber opts in) can increase the transaction rate up to tenfold compared to waiting and sending your emails in batches. Click here for more information about how to optimize your welcome emails and take advantage of new subscribers heightened interest in your company’s products and services.
  • Do you have a long-term content creation strategy in place? In order to engage new email-list subscribers and help keep your company top of mind when they’re going to make a purchase, a compelling content strategy is essential. Part of this strategy should include creating viral content, as well as engaging email templates with an effective call to action that will help motivate customers to convert. Other key ways to build an outstanding list include determining and creating content that is likely to appeal to your target audience and promoting that content through your email-marketing campaigns. A bonus: When your content is spot-on, your subscribers will send it to friends and colleagues, which in turn will potentially add even more subscribers to your list.

Need some help building a bigger, better email list? Contact the experts at FulcrumTech and we’ll get you started on the road to email-marketing success today!

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