18 Ways to Build a Bigger, Better List

When it comes to building a great email list, there’s no quick fix. Some people may be tempted to purchase a list, but that’s an approach I recommend against. “Home-grown” email lists require substantial time and ongoing effort, but the list quality, ROI and ultimately your online marketing success are worth the investment. In this feature, I identify six major list-building strategies, as well as provide a few specific ways to effectively implement each of these strategies.

Be Clear about What They’re Getting

What’s in it for me?  That’s what people want to know before they give you permission to add them to your email list. So be sure to tell them exactly what benefits they’ll receive through your e-publications. Not only is this important in convincing people to become subscribers, but also in keeping them active. After all, if they realize what you actually provide is not what was promised, they will likely stop opening your emails and may even mark you as SPAM.

Some ways to be clear about what your audience can expect include:

  • Tip #1: Create and prominently display a clear and concise company mission statement.
  • Tip #2: Be sure you include a home page promotion that highlights the primary subscriber benefits.
  • Tip #3: Design a compelling sign up page that details the value of what you provide to subscribers, as well as how often they will receive it.

Give Them a Really Great Reason to Sign Up

Most people get excited when they hear they’re being given something extra for free. Although you may already provide an e-publication of great value, a little additional motivation at the start may be just what your prospects need to convince them to join your list of subscribers.

Some ways to provide extra motivation to join your subscribers’ list include:

  • Tip #4: Provide premium content offers exclusively for new subscribers.
  • Tip #5: Sweeten the pot with coupons and new subscriber discounts.
  • Tip #6: Consider a contest to encourage sign ups; for example, enter new subscribers into a drawing for a special prize.

Effectively Market your Web Site and E-Publication

The Internet has quickly become consumers’ most frequently used method to look for products and services. That’s why it should be a major part of your marketing tactics. Plus, you’ll also find Internet marketing can be a cost-effective way to drive serious traffic to your site.

Some ways to leverage Internet marketing include:

  • Tip #7: Use search engine optimization – improving search engine results for targeted keywords – to help drive both the amount and the quality of traffic to your Web site.
  • Tip #8: Team up with other online publishers by advertising their e-publications in yours and vice versa.
  • Tip #9: Consider pay-per-click or banner ads to drive people to your subscribe page.

Grow Your List with Everyday Online Activities

Growing your list should be an ongoing part of your day-to-day online communications. You may be surprised at how many people you can add to your list regularly this way.

Some everyday online activities that can help your list grow include:

  • Tip #10: Provide a subscriber call-to-action in your email signature, along with a subscriber URL, in all your email correspondence.
  • Tip #11: Participating in blogs and online forum postings is also a good way to get your company name out there along with your e-publication sign-up information.
  • Tip #12: Write articles about your area of expertise and get them posted at other sites and directories.

Don’t Forget Offline List Sign-Up Activities Are Important, Too

Though you may find your online list-building activities tend to generate a relatively big response, the everyday contact you and your employees have with prospects, customers and clients can also be a successful subscriber source.

Some offline ways to build your list include:

  • Tip #13: Make collecting email addresses part of every customer service and sales call.
  • Tip #14: Consider advertising your Web site and e-publications in print ads and on your business cards.
  • Tip #15: Include a business card collection box and/or sign up sheet to collect names and email addresses for your subscriber list at all retail locations, as well as at speaking and exhibiting events in which your company participates.

Determine Your Best List Sources through Testing

When it comes to email lists, size doesn’t matter as much as the quality of the contacts. According to a study in MarketingSherpa’s Marketing Benchmark Guide: Among businesses that generated $25- to $50-million in online sales, 18% had lists with between 100,000 and 500,000 people, while 27% produced the same sales with lists of less than 50,000 people.

How can you build – and maintain – a relevant list? Measuring where you’re getting your best, most responsive  people on the list should be something that you track across all activities.

Some ways to maintain a list of your best sources include:

  • Tip #16: Track how many emails are opened, who clicked through and where the most interested and responsive subscribers are coming from.
  • Tip #17: Constantly try and test different methods of subscriber sign up to determine which ones seem to resonate best with your target audience.
  • Tip #18: Periodically review your list for inactive users and don’t be afraid to cull them from the list. In addition to increasing the list quality, this will also have a positive impact on your email deliverability.

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