If you’re looking for tips about how to grow an email list, you’ve come to the right place. We asked a handful of business owners and marketing experts for their go-to tips and tools for collecting email addresses they can then use to generate new leads, and stay in touch with existing customers.
Here are 17 easy ways to collect email addresses so you can build a valuable list.
1. Make sure there’s something in it for them (and never, ever, spam)
Think about the emails you open and those you delete immediately. I’m guessing you don’t open any email that you don’t believe will benefit you or your business in some way. So when you ask for a customer’s email, make sure you are offering them something valuable in exchange. Whether it’s a coupon or early access to a new product or sale, an ebook or other piece of thoughtful content, or the chance to win a prize, when you ask for someone’s email, make sure there’s something valuable in it for them. ~ Jim Belosic, CEO, ShortStack.
2. Offer useful resources
“Offer ‘knowledge products’ as a way to gather email addresses, including interviews with industry leaders, tips, presentations. The resources also give me information to offer in slide presentations at my speaking engagements. I also include the verbiage, ‘If you found this email useful, please forward it on to a friend,’ to every email, which has grown my list by 50 percent.” ~ John Paul Engel, Knowledge Capital Consulting and Project Be The Change.
3. Use Facebook ads
“Without question, the most affordable and cost-effective way to grow a list of leads for email marketing is through Facebook ads. We’ve easily made 7 figures in sales in the past 12 months by using direct targeted Facebook ads to capture leads (name and email). The user base for Facebook is at an all-time high, and the age range of its users is ideal for most businesses these days. The user base ages 30-55+ has seen massive growth while the age group 13-25 has dropped off significantly.
Whether you are a solopreneur, a medium-sized business, or a large corporation, Facebook is an amazingly powerful way to capture new leads. With even a modest budget you capture dozens of new leads every day. And the best part is that these are leads that are pre-disposed to buy what you sell. You can target them very specifically based on their age, geographic location, behaviors, and even their online purchase history.
Our company grossed well into 7 figures in sales, just from Facebook leads alone. On average, we capture anywhere from 50-150 leads per day using targeted Facebook ads. The good times will only last for so long before the user base moves on to something new. Now is the time to dive in full force and strike while the iron is hot.” ~ Corey Robert, Marketing Director of Black Card Books Publishing.
4. Offer free tutorial videos
“At Deskbright, we collect e-mail addresses to use for marketing purposes by offering free Excel tutorials and lessons via e-mail for our users. We’ve developed a huge corpus of free content online, which draws users through referrals from other websites and a solid organic search presence. Visitors who find our free articles helpful can sign up to receive more information and classes via e-mail as we update our site and add content. Our users get to keep up-to-date on the latest free content available on our site, and we get to collect valuable e-mail addresses to market our paid products.” ~ Sam McIntire, founder of Deskbright.
5. Promote your newsletter signup throughout your website
“I collect email addresses through newsletter signup which I include throughout my website. The location I get the most sign ups are from a popup on my blog but visitors can also sign up if they select a box on any form. Putting it in front of visitors is the best way you can do it, so any opportunity you have, put an option to sign up in front of visitors. My favorite tool is Mailchimp because it ties in well with WordPress websites and the management of subscribers and campaigns is extremely easy. It makes it easy to create beautiful newsletters and send out my newest blog posts automatically. I have used contests in the past to gather subscribers but if this method is used, make sure entrants are able to opt in/out of your newsletter or else you will get many unqualified subscribers who aren’t really interested in what you have to say.” ~ Nick Leffler, personal branding expert.
6. Get personal
“Rather than sending out mass mailings to your whole database, segment your lists based on the recipients’ interests. For example, if you are a pet food wholesaler and you have a database for cat owners, you can send a mailer to that database with details of a special cat offer on your website. It’s always useful to build the demographics of your database so you can do more effective marketing through segmentation.
Think of this as a “boutique” mailing. Handpick a small list of people with whom you want to develop a relationship. For example, people who fit the profile and persona of your perfect client. You’re not shot-gunning a message to thousands of strangers here, you’re picking out just the right ones, because you know they will love doing business with you, and they are right in your wheelhouse. Make sure the piece you send them is highly personalized, so they’ll never forget it. With today’s variable data digital printers, how much you can personalize a mailer is limited only by how much you know about the recipient. Don’t settle for just personalizing their name in the salutation; include their company name and what type of business they are right in your message.” ~ Victor Clarke, Be Better Do More.
7. Use popups to promote special offers
“The strongest email collection method we’ve experimented with is utilizing lightbox popups. Since email opt-in forms are usually nested in a site’s footer or sidebar, lightbox popups make it very easy for users to subscribe to your emails if they choose. We’ve seen success with including strong offers, such as exclusive discounts, in our lightbox popups. We’ve also learned a lot through channel segmentation and experimenting with different lightbox popups depending on how the user got to our site.” ~ Randy Stocklin is the Co-Founder and CEO of One Click and its three global eyewear brands: Readers.com, Sunglass Warehouse, and felix + iris.
8. Host contests!
“We have had amazing success lately with running giveaway contests. Every month we give away a cash prize of 250-500 dollars as well as 5-10 items from our store. We do a ton of promotion on social media and have been averaging over 100 new sign ups a day. The fantastic part about this is we use a platform so when the customer enters they get extra points for social sharing it across their network. The results have been off the charts!” ~ Candice Galek, CEO and Founder, BikiniLuxe.
9. Make it really easy
“In addition to collecting address at all points of contact, put out signs announcing your ‘text to join’ info, add sign up boxes to your website and all social profiles and be sure to be vigilant about collecting cards when out networking. When you receive a card, be sure to ask the person if they want to be added to your email list – do not add any cards you receive, without asking. It all comes down to remembering that these are PEOPLE, not just email addresses, and treating them respectfully – as you would any customer, in real life!” ~ LisaMarie Dias of LisaMarie Dias Designs works with business owners to leverage social media for profitable growth.
10. Offer free resources that are relevant to your target customer
“Provide something of value to your target customer, for free, and in an immediately consumable format — such as a downloadable report or e-book. It is important that the product you provide in exchange for the person’s e-mail address be relevant to your target customer, otherwise you may be collecting e-mail addresses from people who will likely never become a customer of yours. The product itself must be relatively short, and relieve a person’s immediate pain point. Some examples –• Do you operate an indoor playground in Tacoma, WA? Offer a “5 things to do with your kids on a rainy day in Tacoma, WA” guide (and include your business as one of the places to visit).• Are you a real estate professional in Phoenix, AZ? Offer a “10 housing trends in Phoenix, AZ that every homebuyer needs to know” report.Reports like this are great, as they not only provide immediate value to your potential customer, but the content of the guides can easily be shared across all of your web presence and social media platforms, allowing you to get more bang for your buck!” ~ Tim Maciejewski, a digital media and marketing expert who helps Real Estate Professionals to build their businesses.
11. When all else fails, be proactive and track it down
“Let them give it to you! Traditionally speaking, an individual who ends up on our site is there for a specific reason. They are interested in our products or our content. If your products and content are good enough, you can charge a toll. The toll, in this case, is their email address! Whether it be by requiring an email when making a purchase, or providing an email to continue reading an informative article, this is one of the best ways to naturally get a list of email addresses correlated to your clients. You can also seek them out on social media or on their personal website. You would be surprised to see how many people include their emails on their LinkedIn, their Twitter, and their personal websites.” ~ Matthew Mercuri, digital marketing manager at Dupray, Inc. a manufacturer of steam-cleaning appliances.
12. Gate your content
“As a B2B company, we always need to find different ways to obtain leads. Doing more than just cold calling, sourcing lists and attending events, we have content as the backbone to our entire marketing strategy. Two surefire ways that we have found to collect existing customer information and new leads, is through our gated content and surveys. Our gated content includes webinars, ebooks, whitepapers, and guides.
We host 4 webinars every month, all of which are gated. meaning people need to input their email contact information to register. We use On24 for these purposes and then input them into our Salesforce account.
For our ebooks, white papers, and guides, we have about one “large” piece like this every 2/3 months. We set up both a gated and non-gated landing page: gated for our non-existing clients to input their information and ungated for existing clients who we already have their info. We create the forms for these landing pages so a customer profile is automatically created for each lead so that we can track what they click on and download.
We also have found surveys to be a very effective way to obtain email addresses. We do surveys to help us create future content pieces down the road (infographics, guides, blogs, etc.), and as an incentive offer the people the chance to win a gift card if they input their information. We have found this to be very successful in allowing us to obtain new emails. They key is to distribute in more than just your database. We use onsite events, social media, and our partner network to distribute the survey so that we are getting new participants to add to our database!” ~ Kristen Carvalho, Sr. Content & Social Media Manager, etouches.
13. Ask for it!
“We run a high-tech company but our approach to collecting email addresses from our customers is distinctly low-tech, we ask them for it when they purchase a product or service. We’ve converted to a fully paperless customer experience so project estimates, progress updates, invoices, and receipts are all done through email. The very next question for a new customer after, “What’s your Name?” is, “What email address would you like us to use?” I think this emphasizes with the customer how important their email is to us and sometimes we follow-up by explaining it’s how we handle all of our communications and documentation. This explanation sometimes leads customers to switch from giving us their “throwaway” email to giving us their primary. For returning customers, we always verify that we have their current email address.The customer’s email address is associated with the customer in our billing system which is Zoho Invoice. About 3-4 times a year, we send emails out to all of our customers. For this, we extract the emails from Zoho Invoice to a spreadsheet, do a little clean-up and then upload them to our mass email provider. Customers are of course able to opt-out of those mailings in which case they only receive emails resulting from billing events.” ~ Steve Hamrin, owner of Hartland Computer Repair and Campus Computer Repair.
14. Employ social “chat”platforms to instill a sense of urgency
“Try ‘Snapchat’ and other temporary platforms, because by making sure the language of your ‘pitch’ is selective, you will see a rise in the number of responses as it cultivates a special community of users. From a psychological standpoint, if the offer is time sensitive, users are more likely to enter. Especially in the age of Snapchat, if you give your customers, and potential customers, a chance to follow you for a limited time on Snapchat (or a chance to take hold of the account for a day), you will also see a rise in the interest of your campaign. Finally, companies can go a step further and keep the prize or giveaway items secret. This will stir up speculations on social media and will cause more users to share your campaign. Just make sure not to disappoint with the prize or you might see some backlash.” ~ Sam Wheeler of Inseev Interactive.
15. Use motion to catch website visitors’ attention
“I’ve tried popups, but my current favorite is a scrolling box that creeps up when a user scrolls down the page, about a third of the way. I’ve used this Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box plugin and Sumome’s Scroll Box. Your copy should have a unique proposition to decrease users from bouncing instantly. Adding scarcity is also useful for increasing leads. Limited spots available, or a countdown to the end of the deal for signing up will help with impulsive email submits. Once you are getting some emails in your new form, split test everything you can. Colors, headlines,the submit button itself should be getting A/B tested. Optimizely is a great tool for getting started with this.” ~ Mike Terry, digital marketing manager at 80 Proof Digital.
16. Offer a content upgrade
“Craft a very actionable blog post that’s specific to your audience and worth sharing. A list of tips is always appealing. Then place a line of copy at the beginning and end of the post that offers to send them the list of tips in printable, pdf form if they enter an email address. It’s great because it allows them to take action on the information more easily. To make the signup very simple and tempting for the visitor, we include a link in the copy and have a popup with the email signup appear when they click. There are a bunch of options to achieve the “click to popup” but we’re currently using the PopupAlly Pro WordPress plugin.” ~ Nicole Heymer, owner of Curio Electro, an online marketing firm that works with design firms and other visual brands.
17. Make your users smarter
“We use education as a carrot to attract new subscribers to our e-newsletter. We do speaking engagements in the community and via webinars and inevitably audience members ask about the costs of our services. I like to use that opportunity as a reminder that we issue a branded e-newsletter called iMpact and that it is a great resource for free tips on how to do marketing. In addition, when visitors land on our website, we have a layover [popup] feature that encourages them to subscribe to iMpact. We learned after about a year of publishing iMpact that our audience clicks the most on the links for our articles (typically “how-to” and “tip” style posts). As a result, we have increased the number of articles we feature in iMpact to give our audience what they engage with most. In the 12 months since we began iMpact, our email list has grown to almost 2,000.” ~ Randy Mitchelson, VP of sales and marketing at iPartnerMedia.