There’s a saying in marketing “the money is in the lists”, which suggests the profitability of email marketing contact lists. Email marketing is so effective because compared to traditional mass advertising, an opt-in contact is already interested in your products or services, thus much more receptive and responsive to your message. Also, because you already know your contacts’ preferences, you can deliver highly relevant content and offers to a segmented list to get better results.

However, research shows that an email marketing database degrades by about 25% every year – your contacts opt-out of your email communication, they change email addresses as they move from one company to another, or they simply abandon an old email address they use. Therefore, it’s important for businesses to continuously work on growing their lists, and here I’d like to share some tips I learned to do that.

The first step of growing your e-marketing lists is to make the process of signing up for your e-marketing message as easy as possible. Don’t ask for too much information up front – an email address is the only essential info you need from your prospects. Once you have that and have built the relationship with them, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to ask for more information from your contacts down the road.

An easy strategy to grow your e-marketing list is to take advantage of your current contact lists. Encourage your current email subscribers to share and forward your emails by including social sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” button, so your e-marketing message can reach their friends and colleagues. Include a “Subscribe” link at the bottom of your emails so people receiving the forwarded emails can easily opt-in.

Offering an incentive is another great strategy to grow your e-marketing list. Typical incentives include a free e-book, a report, or an educational video after signing up. Your business website is an obvious platform for promoting the incentive, but social media is great for that as well. For example, if your business has a Facebook page, you could promote an offer or have a giveaway to your Facebook fans that sign up. Of course, growing email list doesn’t have to be limited to online platforms. You can print out your email opt-in form for offline events such as trade shows so people can opt-in as well.

After people have opted-in to your email marketing, the best practice is to send out an auto-responder to confirm the sign-in, so they don’t forget about you. In your confirmation/welcoming email, give them an idea what to expect in term of how often they’ll hear from you and what kind of content they’ll get. After that you’re on your way to strengthen the relationship with your contacts by not just self-promoting, but also offering value to them, and over time reap the benefits of email marketing.

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