Good email marketing starts with a quality list
by Alec Stern, Constant Contact Vice President, Strategic Market Development
You might put together the best looking and most compelling email campaigns ever, but without a permission-based list of people to receive them, your messages will go unseen. Fortunately, there are a number of simple ways to build and maintain your contact list so you can reach the people your business or organization covets the most: Your loyal customers and members.
Ask in person
When your customers or members come into your place of business or attend one of your events, are you asking for their email address? Letting them walk out the door without asking is equivalent to losing a valuable asset. Why not ask?
You’ll be surprised that customers will give you their address more often than not. You just have to ask for it.
There are multiple ways to do so. One way is to give your team an incentive to ask. I recommend making it a contest to see how many email address one can collect over a given shift or time period. Everyone likes to win, so make a game of collecting email addresses.
You should also advertise the availability of your newsletter throughout your establishment or event venue. Put placards on tables, a signup book by the register, and signs on the walls. At your event, ask people when they check-in or register if they would like to be added to your email list. (Constant Contact offers an easy way to order signup books, display placards, and signup cards for your business or organization. Find out more here.)
Asking online might be a little easier for some, since it removes the human fear of rejection. And there are multiple touch points where you can solicit your customers for their email address on the Web.
Add a Join My Mailing List (JMML) box: Make the Join My Mailing List tab a key feature in your website’s template so that it appears prominently on just about every page. Through search engine queries, you never know where people will land on your site. Adding the JMML box to every page ensures that no matter how a visitor finds you, he or she will have an opportunity to join your list.
And for those who have a Constant Contact account and a Facebook account, there’s an application available to put a Join My Mailing List tab on your Fan Page.
Link to your signup page: Going beyond your website, email marketers should put links to their newsletter signup page in their emails, both those sent through an email service provider such as Constant Contact and the signature of their personal email accounts. This way, every message a customer or member gets from you will have a subtle reminder to join your email list if they haven’t done so already. Also, add a join my mailing list link to your newsletter to help capture those folks that get your email forwarded to them from a friend, associate or other trusted source.
Promote upcoming issues of your newsletters via social media: Another way to get people to sign up for your mailing list is to provide a teaser for an upcoming mailing on your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts. A quick “Want to know more about Topic X? Sign up for our newsletter” with a link to your signup page will lure people in.
A neighboring or complimentary businesses can be a great resource for list building. You can advertise other people’s list to your own and recommend that people sign up for them, while your partners can make the same offer to their subscriber base about signing up for your list. It’s a great way to cross-promote like-minded businesses and organizations to a wider audience. Doing so also shows that you’re a part of a greater community and not just your own business or organization’s bottom line.
(Note that outright swapping of lists with a partner and other complimentary businesses is a no-no and will be flagged by Constant Contact. It’s problematic because the recipient will question how you got their email address, so having your partner send a message on your behalf is the best approach.)
Whether you’re soliciting an email address face to face or online, it’s important to set expectations for the person signing up. Give people a visual so they can see what they’re signing up to receive. An easy way to accomplish this is to show customers a recent email, either with a color printout of your newsletter displayed next to your signup book or through links to your email newsletter archive.
When asking someone to join your list in person, phrase the question like this: “Would you like to sign up for our monthly newsletter about events and other promotions?” This sets the expectation that those signing up will receive something from you on a monthly basis that contains upcoming event information.
A similar effort should be made online to set expectations appropriately. Tell people when they’re signing up what exactly they will be getting and how often. This way, subscribers are not unpleasantly surprised when your first email arrives.
I also recommend that when you send a confirmation email to new subscribers that it thanks them for joining your list. The message should reiterate what the recipient has signed up for and can be used to provide a coupon or another “thank you” for being such a loyal customer.
Contacts are a valuable asset
Your list is not going to grow magically without any prodding. Make sure you engage your customers and members whenever or wherever you come in contact with them — be it in your establishment, at an event, on your website, or even on your Facebook Fan Page. At every turn, you, your staff, and your electronic presence should be politely directing customers to your email mailing list.