By Janine Popick
When you have an engaged group of customers and prospects who want to hear from you, getting the word out about your business, your services and your offers is much easier. However, people change email addresses faster than hairstyles these days (industry averages say that you will lose one-third of your list to attrition each year). How do you plant the seeds to keep your small business email marketing list strong and growing?
I'm glad you asked. After running an online marketing company for the last 12 years, this topic is near and dear to me, and I’ve got about a million tips to help you. Here you'll find 10 of them.
How to Build Your Small Business Email Marketing List
1. Make it easy to subscribe
If you want more subscribers, you’ve got to make it super simple to sign up. Offer an easy-to-find opt-in form on your website. And keep in mind that the shorter you keep your form (say, to just an email address and first name), the more likely folks will be to sign up. You can always get additional info later.
2. Optimize your website to get even more email subscribers
Providing an email opt-in form on your website's homepage is a great start, but that's just the beginning.
Turn up the volume on your email subscriber numbers by placing your email opt-in form on all your key pages—including your major product or service pages, the "about us" section and the "contact us" page. The more places you offer the opportunity to sign up, the more hits you'll get.
You can take it a step further by creating a dedicated subscription page where you have room to tell potential subscribers what value they''ll get for giving you their email address. Check out this great example of a simple, straightforward subscription page from Skadeedle, a small business marketing site.
And don't stop there. If you're blogging, make sure that you’ve got email opt-in forms on your blog and links to it within other content you might create, like videos, presentations, guide and infographics.
3. Work your social media networks
Adding an email opt-in form to your Facebook Timeline is a cinch these days. A tool called Wufoo helps anybody build online forms, including email opt-in forms, that you can use everywhere. They’ve also got a simple app for Facebook that you can use to install your opt-in form right on your Timeline. You can download your subscribers and easily upload them to your email service provider.
If you're active on Twitter and Google+, you should certainly be tweeting links to your email subscription page or opt-in form at least weekly on these two social networks. Remember to include the value that your subscribers get. It's all about answering the question, "what's in it for me," when you ask someone for their email address.
4. You are your best opt-in form
Nothing beats an in-person contact for getting email addresses. If you’re at a trade show, conference or event, you’ve got a room filled with with potential subscribers. As you network and meet folks, mention your list and ask them to subscribe if it seems like a good fit.
If you've got a bricks-and-mortar or physical location, make sure that your team lets people know you've got a list and how they can subscribe. Making personal connections allows you to put a genuine voice to your email communications and lets subscribers know it is coming from real people, not just a disconnected company.
5. Provide useful content
Want to stand out from the competition? Provide your subscribers useful and helpful content. Answer frequently asked questions in the form of a free guide or ebook, or host a webinar. Weekly or monthly tips shared from your blog also are valuable pieces of knowledge to share.
On your opt-in form page, let your readers know how often you'll mail and what they can expect. When they know they’ll be getting something of value and not just a bunch of promotional offers, they may be more likely to sign up.