The top 3 tactics for building your email subscriber lists

Starting off with email marketing tends to be a but of a chicken-and-egg scenario. You may be an awesome email designer and be all over a strategy, but without a good list, it doesn’t count for much. Conversely, you may have a list full of folks who are clamoring for what you have to say, but without a solid email newsletter…!

We spend loads of time talking about coding and sending email campaigns, so today lets look at how to build your lists effectively. Conveniently, our friends at MarketingSherpa did some research into the top 3 tactics you can use to build your campaigns, so I thought we’d cover these, as well as a couple of other ideas for growing your newsletter’s audience.

First up, lets look at what they uncovered to be the most effective list growth tactics:

MarketingSherpa's results Source: ‘MarketingSherpa 2012 Email Marketing Benchmark Report’, MarketingSherpa

How many of these have you ticked off already? If you’ve vowed to get more people signing up to your lists this year, read on for practical advice on how to make it happen.

Tactic #1: Catch new subscribers at checkout

If you’re selling a product or service on your site, providing the option to join your email list during the purchase stage may seem like a bit of a no brainer, but it’s often overlooked. Web apps like Lemonstand and Digital Delivery App make it super-easy to prompt paying customers into signing up, as do these e-Commerce integrations for WordPress, Shopify and more.

Considering that “90% of email marketers say adding an opt-in request to the purchase process is at least “somewhat effective” at growing email lists”, shouldn’t it be a tactic to make sure you have place in 2012?

Tactic #2: Offer valuable content, get email signups in return

If you send or receive business-to-business (B2B) campaigns, you’re probably aware of the power of the webinar when it comes to educating customers and making contacts. MarketingSherpa’s research backs this up, with 90% of email marketers saying they are at least “somewhat effective” at building lists and 41% saying they are “very effective”. For the rest of us, offering great online content can substantially lift email subscribe rates. In one A/B test, it was shown that featuring a video demo on a contact page could result in 80% more responses!

Keeping in mind that not everyone is a webinar or YouTube star waiting to happen, there’s always the option of having your customers sign up for exclusive content, or a sneak-peek of an upcoming product.

Tactic #3: Slap a subscribe form on your site

Thankfully, one of the most obvious and easy-to-implement tactics is also one of the most effective. It’s no surprise that “75% of email marketers” use a subscribe form on their, or their clients’ site to collect new subscribers. They don’t have to be as subtle as the customary ‘subscribe to our newsletter’ in the corner of a page, as this round-up of inspiring subscribe forms illustrates.

To get started with adding a subscribe form to your site, grab our ready-to-use code in your Campaign Monitor account, or check out our collection of subscribe form plugins. We’ve even got a neat little AJAX subscribe form which you can use!

What else can I do to grow my subscriber lists?

As you can see from MarketingSherpa’s results, list-building isn’t limited to the 3 tactics above. Collecting signups in-real-life through events or in-store promotions still ranks highly in the effectiveness stakes, as does collecting email signups through a Facebook page.

Don’t forget that the cornerstones to growing your lists are to stand out, offer value to subscribers and respect permission - once you have these sorted, the sky’s the limit!

What list building tactics do you, or your clients use? Which have been the most effective and why? Let us know in the comments below.

Posted by Ros Hodgekiss

6 Comments

  • Julian Wellings
    8th February

    I never cease to be amazed at the number of business owners I meet who say “I want to start a newsletter but I haven’t got any email addresses!”. And these are businesses which have been trading for some time. 
    As well as the tried and tested methods above I advise them to take the opportunity to ask for email addresses on every contact with customers or prospects (ensuring they explain what they will use it for). For example this could be at business networking events or when their front line staff are talking to customers on the phone.

  • Gary Bennion
    8th February

    I have found that running competitions has been a good way to build our email list. You can usually get suppliers to help out with the prize aswell.

  • Ryan Wilson
    8th February

    Offering valuable content is a great way to collect email addresses! My company’s site offers a popular free download that has been very helpful at generating leads. I hadn’t thought of adding a registration at checkout, guess that only makes sense! Some good ideas here, thanks!

  • Radini Copywriting
    8th February

    Good advice, it can seem difficult to get emails but people need to understand it’s a marathon not a sprint

  • Shaun
    10th February

    I’ve had many discussions around the trade off between trying to get subscribers and trying to get valuable subscribers. On one hand you want to get your message out to as many as possible, but on the other, you still want a very engaged subscriber list.

    Do you want to just subscribe as many as possible for them just to unsubscribe? or do you provide them with useful knowledge that ensures they know what they’re signing up when they do.

    To me, the goal is to get a highly engaged subscriber list and not to have a subscriber list that is huge, with a 10% unsubscribe rate and 10% open click through rate.

    I don’t know, what do others think?

  • kevin
    13th February

    thanks for the advice! :)

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