15 tips on growing your organic email marketing list from scratch

Joanna Michaels, Beyond Social Buzz

Use these tips to grow a healthy email marketing list and turn your subscribers into long-term customers.

Email marketing should have a crucial position in the marketing toolbox of any business. This invaluable marketing channel is used daily by 93% of consumers. Admittedly, Social Media attracts some great numbers, but not all consumers want to use it and so email remains central to everything one does, online and offline every day.

Email marketing has great potential to keep customers engaged and informed. It serves as a perfect channel for nurturing customers’ loyalty through offering discounts and relevant tips.

Today’s customers however, are increasingly aware of privacy issues and find unwanted, commercial email extremely annoying. It is simply perceived as a digital stalking. For this reason, they won’t hesitate to hit the spam button, upon receiving random email communications. Spam complaints can have some serious consequences for your business. Receiving too many of those will lead to a damaged reputation as a sender, with your emails being filtered and therefore never reaching recipients.

The legal rules concerning email marketing state that organisations should not send any marketing emails without the permission of the recipient. However, an existing relationship between the customer and the sender allows sending marketing emails without a clear permission, provided that an ability to opt out from receiving such messages is clearly stated (source:

Taking the above into consideration and therefore avoiding the dreaded ‘spam label’, means that businesses should aim for growing their email list organically. And yes, it may be a rather lengthy process, but it really is the only way to effectively build an engaged subscriber-ship.

Here are 15 crucial steps to growing an organic email list:

1. Your website is the perfect hub for capturing the email subscriptions. Ensure that your sign-up form is visible in a prominent place, ideally above the fold.

2. Don’t simply say ‘sign-up to our monthly newsletter’, instead incentivise to encourage such actions and give users a compelling reason to want to hear from you. Depending on your type of business you may offer exclusive, newsletter-only discounts, seminars or events.

3. Keep it short and sweet – the longer the subscription form, the higher the risk that your potential subscriber won’t complete the action. If someone cannot sign up within 30 seconds, you are missing out. If you wish to ask some additional questions, keep it optional.

4. Drive traffic from your Social Media channels, by embedding a newsletter sign-up form on your Facebook page, or encouraging subscriptions though occasional Twitter updates.

5. Add sign-up links to your blogs and articles so the interested audience can opt-in to hear from you again.

6. Build trust through keeping your privacy policy clear. Explain to your subscribers that their personal details won’t be shared with any other parties. And should you need any sensitive information, clarify what this is for.

7. Use your website transactions, such as enquires, purchasing a product or downloading an article to attract opt-ins. By making an email address a mandatory component of such transactions, you can add it to your email list. This is provided, as stated in the beginning of this post, that you give the user an ability to opt out from receiving such messages.

8. Dedicate some time to training your front-line staff in order to ensure they understand the purpose and value of email address collection. Your employees who are responsible for data entry need to appreciate the importance of accuracy, as mistyped information equals lost opportunities.

9. Collect contact details during events and trade shows using iPad apps. Remember to follow up with a welcome email that confirms the opt-ins.

10. When promoting online competitions ask all entrants to provide their emails on the entry form.

11. Host an on-line webinar and collect email subscriptions from participants at the point of registration.

12. Ensure that your email content is remarkable. Only relevant, compelling messages will make people want to stay subscribed to your on-going communications.

13. Don’t use pop-up subscription windows; they are invasive and simply annoying. Give users a chance to explore your site and decide for themselves if they see value in giving you their email address.

14. Think twice before buying or renting lists from marketing companies. The common belief is that good lists for sale simply do not exist. The idea of buying or renting violates the trust between customer and company, as people on this list may not want to hear from you.

15. Finally, remember that every email marketing message sent to your customers should contain a clearly visible ‘unsubscribe’ link.

Although building a healthy, organic email marketing list requires time and commitment it is essential for driving business, building relationships and converting sales.

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