There is little doubt that email is an invaluable tool for small business ecommerce. It is cost-effective, flexible and executed properly can offer you great ROI. Of course email is only as good as the quality of email addresses that you hold. Therefore building and maintaining your own email list is essential.
Buying in cold-lists are an option, but they are unlikely to give you the response rate your own in-house list will provide. You also need to remember that all databases decay over time so you need to be continuously looking at ways to maintain your list and add new prospects. Growing your own list should be an integral part of your email strategy.
“Email marketing databases naturally degrade by about 22.5% every year.” Hubspot
8 top tips on how to grow your email list
The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do as small business to capture new email addresses. It helps if you look at growing your list on a continuous basis and as part of your overall marketing strategy.
OK, lets start with content. Although content itself isn’t going to physically provide you with an email address, it is integral to your success online. If your business isn’t appealing to customers and potential customers why on earth would anyone want to impart their personal details. All your content, whether on your website, social media platforms, blog or in your newsletter, should inspire people to want to frequent your website, learn more about your business and keep in touch – and ultimately part with their contact details.
2. Blog posts
Having a blog is one of the most successful ways to generate regular, relevant content to your website. If your posts are interesting and relevant to your target audience, the more likely visitors will keep coming back to your see your articles. Moreover, if they like what they see then they may well decide to handover their email addresses so you can inform them when your next post is being published.
Take a look at Hello Fresh’s blog page. Packed with lots of great posts that are relevant and interesting to their target audience, they have a clear sign-up box encouraging visitors to leave their email address so they can email them their latest post as and when it’s published.
Email newsletters are a great way to keep in touch with potential customers. If customers are interested in your products and services they may well be inclined to provide you with their email address. Your newsletter needs to contain information that is interesting, entertaining and relevant (after all, you don’t want them to unsubscribe). Have a clear newsletter sign-up form on your website and consider a pop-up box.
Don’t be tempted to ask for too much information up-front. Unless you are are offering high value information (which we’ll come onto next) an email address and maybe first name will suffice. The more information you request the less people will leave their details. Checkout notonthehighstreet.com’s sign-up form. It is clear, straight to the point and doesn’t request reams of information.
4. e-books, guides, reports and white paper downloads.
Providing ‘high-value’information in a downloadable format is an effective way to obtain email addresses. This is probably more common place in B2B, but it can work well in B2C if the guide or e-book is deemed valuable or interesting. In order to access their download visitors have to leave their contact details. In the marketing arena, HubSpot do this really well. Take a look at the screenshots below, in addition to the download they also encourage the recipient to email the link on to friends to generate more potential signs-ups.
5. Offer incentives
Who doesn’t respond to an attractive incentive? Offering a bit of encouragement such as money-off, discount code, entry into a competition or a free trial can help entice visitors to sign-up. For example as soon as you go onto the Banana Republic or Gap websites you are greeted with a pop-up offering you 15% off if you share your details and sign-up to their emails.
6. Refer a Friend offers
People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend
Encouraging your existing customers to recommend you to a friend is a targeted and cost-effective way to generate new names. Essentially refer a friend is encouraging your existing customers to actively recommend your product and services to friends and family. Offering an incentive to both your original contact and the friend they recommend will help lift your response. For example, see the Boden refer a friend scheme below.
7. Social Media
Using your social media platforms can help support your email communications by encouraging customers to sign up. If you’re running a competition, offering an incentive or providing a free e-book, then spread the word on social media with a link back to your sign-up form.
In addition you can add a button to your social media page. For example, use one of Facebook’s ‘call to action’ buttons on your cover photo such a their Sign-Up button. This can then link back to the sign-up page on your website.
8. Offline sign-ups
Finally, don’t forget about generating prospective names when you’re out and about. If you are have a presence at an exhibition or event then ensure you have a way to collect any new names you gather. For example run a competition, have a giveaway or offer a free trial.
Look after your email list as it is one of your most precious assets. Have a strategy in place to generate new names and ensure you keep your list clean and up to date.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on email list building. So please do leave a comment.