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Abbie's Column : Email Marketing

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How to Grow Your Email List

By Abbie Drew
Jun 8, 2006

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Where and how do you get more email leads?

This is the number one question, I hear from Internet marketers. Email has proven again and again to be a marketing medium that generates a high return for your investment. Over 45% of marketers when surveyed say it’s the best online advertising tactic. As a result practically every business is looking to grow their in house email list.

But how do you do it?

There’s tough competition in email marketing because everyone is trying to build their list. And according to Forester Research, only 60% of online users are even willing to opt-in to get new offers.

So how do you get a lead to sign-up to receive your emails?

You’ve probably heard about companies that see 100s of new subscribers every day. Can you imagine what it would do to your business to continually generate leads like this. Hundreds of subscribers specifically requesting to receive email about your offers! Your business would boom!

Well, now you can get an inside look at the tactics these successful companies use. A new survey from Silverpop,
“2006 Email List Growth Survey,” shares the list building techniques of over 320 companies from around the world. The survey reveals the best and the worst ways to grow your email lists.

Here’s a review the findings as well as a little insight from my own list building experience on how you can apply the information.

4 Sign-Up Form Tactics to Improve Conversion

1) Every page of your site should have an opt-in form.

Those companies with larger lists have a subscription request form on every page of their site. The simple fact is the more often you ask for a sign-up the more sign-ups you’ll get!

2) Offer an incentive to sign-up.

Again the companies with larger lists provide prospects a reason to sign-up. Simply telling subscribers they’ll get something, be it discounts, contests or news and updates is much more effective than providing no explanation for subscribing.

3) Give subscribers options.

Allowing subscribers to choose frequency of mailings, subject matter of mailings and format of mailings all help improve sign-up rates as well as retention rates. When possible, providing an examples of what mailings look like will further increases your signups.

To grow your list it is important to not only gain new sign-ups but also keep existing subscribers happy. When your list members feel they have control over the emailings they’ve signed-up for and receive they remain on your list longer.

4) Include a Privacy Policy

Many subscribers believe that the majority of spam they receive comes from companies who share their email without permission.

Re-assuring subscribers up front about the safety of their email address when they register improves conversion.

Marketing Strategies for Increasing List Size

1) Search engine promotion.

The companies surveyed said search engines’ pay-per-click ads, sponsor ads and organic search listings were one of the best ways to acquire email sign-ups. Promotions that drive traffic to sign-up form landing pages brings in highly qualified visitors many of whom opt-in to your list. Also organic search engine listings pull responsive visitors to various pages of your site, making it important you have sign-up forms on each an every page.

JupiterResearch in February 2005, also noted that online search is one of the most cost-effective but underutilized tactics for email list building.

2) Trade Shows.

Yes, the companies found when their representatives met people at trade shows and got them to sign-up for their lists the subscribers were responsive.

If your company is too small to attend trade shows, don’t disregard this tactic as worthless. Consider how you might incorporate it into your marketing.

Do you every attend networking events, local business gatherings, seminars? Or have you every considered giving a presentation to a group? Why not get out into your community and spread the word about your business. Be sure to collect the email addresses of the people you meet? Or ask for their business cards and then email them requesting permission to add them to your list.

People you meet face to face are likely to remember you and will be interested in joining your list.

3) Cross Promotions

Typically a cross promotion occurs when you have multiple divisions in your organization. You work together to get subscribers from one division to opt-in to the list of another division.

Again, as a smaller business you may not think this is directly applicable to you. But what if you worked with another smaller business and applied the same principle. You would then have what Internet marketers call a “Joint Venture”.

Joint Ventures are hugely successful online to sell products/services. And you can also use them to build email lists. Establish a joint venture where you and another company work together to get the subscribers from each others lists to sign-up for the other person’s list. It’s a win-win for both of you as you’ll both grow your lists.

4) Co-Registration

Co-registration is currently one of the fastest growing areas for list building. Co-registration occurs when users sign-up for email on one site and they then see the offers of other businesses. The users can then check-off if they’d like to get email from one or more of the other businesses.

According to a study done by MarketingSherpa, 32% of marketers said co-registration names performed as well as their house list generated from their own site. And an additional 30% said co-registration names weren't quite as good as house names, but still well worth the investment.

(Editor note: Co-registration is the number one strategy we use for building our DEMC list. We believe the quality of co-registration leads are excellent. And so do many of our DEMC advertisers. Here’s a testimonial from a recent DEMC advertiser attesting to the quality of our co-registration names:

“I just had to let you know that the postcard Solo ad was a COMPLETE SUCCESS! I CANNOT believe how incredibly well it pulled. Right at this moment we have a 48% CTR with it, 650 people have clicked and 308 have opened it and on top of that over 100 have registered at the site! That is 100 calls to make! WOW, they just keep coming. Thanks again for having such a great list, I wish I could find more like yours! - Becky Anders, IN www.simplewealthsolution.com ”

If you’d like to have your own responsive list, let us help you build your list with co-registration subscribers. Check out our services at CustomLead.com.

Based on our positive experience at DEMC with co-registration, we decided to share the process with others.)

4 of the Worst List Building Strategies

The companies in Silver Pop’s survey also revealed what doesn’t work when it comes to list building.

1) Non-Branded Lists

The companies who rented email lists and then attempted to convince those list members to sign-up for their own list failed miserably. The costs of the lists were high and the response low.

Similarly, buying generic lists of email prospects who’ve requested un-specific information, be it home business information or health information or mortgage information is a financial drain. When you try to get these leads to sign up for your own list it’s a difficult to impossible task.

Every week, I hear from subscribers complaining about their lack of success with generic opt-in lists they purchased. They wonder what can they do to get these leads to respond to their offers.

The simple fact is that whether your company is big or small when you email to a list that did not sign-up to hear from you specifically, your response will be poor.

2) Viral Marketing

Seeing the overall results of those who’ve had success with Viral marketing makes it a risky proposition for list building. Yes, some companies have had tremendous success, unfortunately they appear to be few in numbers. Getting a promotion to virally spread takes lots of effort and a certain amount of luck.

Sure using a viral tell-a-friend form or viral ebook which are free to implement can be worthwhile. However, you may want to think twice before investing a significant amount of money and/or time into a big viral promotion.

3) Appends

Adding appended email addresses to your existing customer list is unwise. Of those surveyed only 4% found it to work. Secondly, Forester Research reports that appending emails blatantly offends between 20 to 39% of consumers.

If you’re not familiar with appending, it’s the process of purchasing consumer email addresses with postal address and then matching up the postal addresses with your existing customer list of postal addresses. The idea is to find the email addresses for your existing customer list.

If you’re thinking, your company really is too small to do appends, so this doesn’t apply, be sure to realize that appends typically come from sites which promote sweepstakes. Acquiring lists from sweepstakes and contest promotion sites have been shown to deliver poor prospects. So appending or just purchasing this type of lead is not a good choice.

4) Direct Mail

Interestingly sending direct mail to get email list sign-ups was found to be unsuccessful by the companies surveyed. When doing offline marketing, the key to getting email sign-ups was repetition. Your offer had to in front of the prospect over and over again.

Sending direct mail over and over again was not cost effective. However, if you’re already regularly sending direct mail adding a note on to your pieces about signing-up online for your email list is a good strategy to get a few extra sign-ups.


There you have it the good, the bad and the ugly on email list building. If you apply the tactics that work and skip those that don’t your list will certainly grow!

If you’d like to review the SilverPop study you can find it at –

Good Luck With Your List Building!

Abbie Drew
DEMC Editor

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