E-mail is still the most cost-effective marketing method ever invented — if you have a good list.
With the constant barrage of spam and low-quality opt-in lists, it is increasingly harder for an e-mail marketer to stand out. We suggest the following techniques to build a strong house list. Each tactic is straightforward to implement, generates quick results and doesn't cost a thing:
Opt in everywhere. Put a subscribe form on every page of your Web site where a new visitor might show up. It may take more than one impression for a surfer to decide to sign up, so make sure the opt-in is convenient whenever a surfer is ready. At the very least, subscribe fields should be on your home page, in the footer of each page and in every single form on the entire site.
Use the buddy system. Find a site whose product or service is a complement to yours and buddy up to share subscribers. Wherever you have an opt-in for your list, put a check box for your partner, who will do the same for you. You will drive subscribers to each other's lists without losing any readership. Chances are, your subscribers will appreciate the easy access to a helpful new publication through these co-registration deals.
Show them all you've got. You've got them hooked on reading your e-mail — so have the bottom of each message feature sign-up instructions for your other e-mail lists. They like your style, so give them more.
Sell it with a signature., How many e-mails do you and your staff send out each day? Every communication with a prospect, customer, colleague or friend is a golden opportunity to promote your lists. Create e-mail signature files for your staff that mention your publications. Your subscriber numbers will skyrocket while your team is conducting business as usual.
Write back at 'em. Every inquiry or e-mail submitted from your Web site is an invitation for you to strike while the iron is hot. Send an auto-reply message that also happens to mention your fabulously entertaining e-mails. Your prompt, informative response makes you a hero to prospects.
Let's make a deal. Your best source of new subscribers is people who read other e-mail newsletters. Seek out list owners and trade advertisements in your newsletter for ads in theirs. Everyone is willing to do a deal. Click rates on these ads are very high and the costs are zilch.
Share the love. Now that you have current readers loving your messages, encourage them to share the love with their peers. Create Web pages and e-mail footers that make it easy for them to forward your e-mail to the next round of prospects. The easier you make it to pass along your content, the faster your lists will grow. Refer-a-friend tools for your Web site are available free from many sources.
Give it away. Offer an incentive — a taste of your product or service — to everyone who opts in to your list. Something simple and low cost like a white paper or a Web seminar is all it takes to grab their attention and win their contact information. In the end, you earned new subscribers and they had a peek at what you can offer. Promote it well, and prospects will pass the offer on to their best contacts.
Tell the world. Do not forget the free promotional tools just for list publishers. You will find numerous directories of lists, Web sites that promote new lists and search engines where you can submit your list. Also consider a news release. These days surfers can access releases easily.
Take it offline. Do not forget the real world. A smile and a handshake can take you far, so leverage your in-person contacts by personally inviting people to sign up for your e-mail lists. Have subscription information posted at retail locations, in your reception area, on product packaging, at trade show exhibitions and anywhere else you are in the spotlight.
Make it a lifestyle. Get the whole company pumped about the e-mail challenge. Make it part of your corporate culture. In every contact, every employee should ask for e-mail addresses. Get customer service staff, call center operators, salespeople, service people and everyone else making the request. You will be amazed at how easy it is to build a big list.