No matter if you are a new business just starting the advertising race or a seasoned digital marketing pro – anyone involved in the industry understands the importance of building an email list. But how?
Just as with many other online marketing practices – there is the proper (white-hat) way and improper (black-hat) way to build your email lists. Some black-hat tactics, such as buying a list, may seem easier and more effective at first. However, in the long run, these black hat tactics are nothing more than an unnecessary risk of penalty and have the potential to devalue your business by making you come across as “spammy.”
Email Monks has an excellent infographic that compares the good and bad practices when it comes to creating an opt-in email list (click thumbnail to view full-size).
If you want your emails to even be opened, you need to create a list of prospects who are genuinely interested in your product or service, that have “opted-in” to learn more about your company. Let’s review the professional white-hat tactics used to create an email opt-in list for your company.
Attract Prospects with Valuable Content
Don’t publish fluff. Ever.
Be precise with all your content marketing efforts and optimize it accordingly to ensure that your target audience has something to gain from your content. Use ebooks, guides, and industry reports to bring new subscribers to your list.
Consistently publish blog content that is current and establishes your business as a thought leader within your industry. Also, stay active on social media platforms. Create and share your content in a variety of forms such as slideshares, infographics, videos, and blog posts that will attract new website visitors.
Collect the Emails
Once you have created and published original content targeted to your audience – you can receive emails in exchange for this material. This exchange is completed by either asking or requiring users to subscribe.
When you “ask” prospects to provide their email and possibly basic demographic information – it’s important to put this request in an obvious place on your website, i.e. header, footer, blog page, or homepage. One way to encourage these types of signups is to include “social proof”, i.e. “Join the thousands that decided to grow their business overnight.” Ask for subscribers with a pop-up window or at the top of your blog or website.
When offering premium content in the form of reports, ebooks, and case studies – go ahead and “require” an email. This method of building your opt-in mail list is also referred to as “gating”. Don’t be afraid to invest in the creation of really stellar material that people in your industry will be genuinely interested in. The potential for prospects justifies the investment.
3 Professional Tips on Opt-In Prospect Collection
- Keep Forms Short. Forms on your website designed to build your email list should do just that. Collect emails. Keep them as short as possible, even down to only the name and email fields.
- Learn About Prospects Naturally. Marketing automation programs have the ability to ask leads more information each time they visit your website. This process allows you to learn more key information about a lead without overwhelming them with multiple questions during the first visit.
- Put the Power in the Prospect’s Hands. If you have the type of prospect volume to necessitate such a page – add a subscription center to your website. It should be a page that allows prospects to set their own preferences as to how often they receive emails and about which content. In essence, this allows subscribers to “opt-down” instead of “opting-out.”
Organize Database of Opt-In Prospects
You’ve done it. Practices you’ve implemented to collect genuine opt-in emails are paying off and your list is growing. And growing. Now, it’s time to harness your collected list of prospects and treat them with the correct attention they deserve so that you can quickly look at the list and digest your subscribers.
The first step is to group your new prospects in order to appropriate which type of content is best suited to their interest in your business. Your business might offer a wide variety of services. It’s imperative that you are only sending email marketing content to the people on your opt-in list to whom your services are relevant. For instance, if you were shopping for a new handbag and opted into a list based on promotions for handbags – and this same company was sending you email campaigns for shoes – you might go to straight to “opting-out.”
Our next article in this email marketing series will provide professional tips on how to create and execute email marketing campaigns specifically targeted at each of your prospect lists. Become an expert at list building when you sign up for an email marketing course today at COMP.