Kathy Smith
Sr. Website Designer

Enewsletters: Developing an Email List

Sign UpSo, now that we’ve convinced you to start an enewsletter campaign, who’s going to receive it besides your mother, best friend and next door neighbor?

Ah… it must be time to think about developing an email database. This database is called a “List” in MailChimp and “Contacts” in Constant Contact.

First and foremost, note that the FTC’s CAN-SPAM Act prohibits sending email campaigns to just anyone and everyone. Although there are numerous facets to the Act, it basically says that you need to have a permission-based or opt-in email list.

If people subscribe via an Email Service Provider’s (ESP) signup form, they have automatically given permission to send them campaigns.

Developing a permission-based list

Including a signup link, there are many ways to develop a contact list:

  • On your website’s homepage and other high-traffic pages.
  • In your standard signature on every business email you send.
  • On social media sites.
  • Constant Contact and MailChimp have apps that make it easy to include a link on a Facebook business page.
  • Periodically invite your social media contacts to “join our mailing list”–especially right before the next campaign is about to launch–and include a teaser.
  • In every enewsletter campaign (you never know who may share it with someone who may also wish to subscribe).
  • Encourage your loyal readers to forward or share the campaign by including a link to “Forward to a Friend” and links to share on social networks. Heck, you never know when your enewsletter will become the next viral hit.
  • Contact your current clients and ask them to sign up. This is best done with a personalized, individual email that includes a link inviting them to subscribe.
  • Add a checkbox for customers to opt in when checking out of your shopping cart.
  • A link on your LinkedIn profile.
  • When answering a question on an online forum, include a link to subscribe to your enewsletter. This is especially valuable when answering a specific product-related question if members are looking for additional information.
  • Offer an incentive for subscribing–a discount, free pdf, coupon, etc.

Offline possibilities are endless, depending on your particular business:

  • Have a signup sheet at the reception desk, cash register, trade show, etc.
  • Include a checkbox on all registration forms.
  • Include a link to your signup form on all printed materials–brochures, flyers, surveys, invoices, etc.
  • Speaker at a meeting? Ask attendees to write “yes” on the back of a business card, and then pass the basket.
  • Attending a tradeshow? Give attendees several options: signup sheet, business card fishbowl, even a poster with a QR code that takes them directly to your online signup form.
  • Just met someone at a networking event who is interested in your product or service? Ask if they would like to subscribe.
  • ESPs provide apps for signing up via smartphone, iPad, etc.
  • Get creative–there are numerous ways to acquire subscribers based on your unique business.

Most importantly, do not purchase an email list:

  • Most are usually “bad” email addresses.
  • “Good” email addresses will generate complaints and hurt your performance.
  • In the US, a reputable ESP will shut down your account.
  • According to the newest legislation passed in Canada, they are illegal.

Shirley Wolfe is a virtual assistant who partners with numerous entrepreneurs and small business owners, providing administrative and marketing support services including database management, email marketing, social networking, bookkeeping and organization management.

This is the third article in our series of blogs about enewsletters:

  1. Who can use newsletters
  2. How to get started

about lakenetwork

Lakenetwork is a family-owned business providing website design and development for companies, professionals and organizations in the Cleveland, Ohio area and beyond. We specialize in providing the most cost-effective and appropriate solutions for clients’ online needs. We are located in Eastlake, Ohio.

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