When you’re just getting started with email marketing one of the first things you’ll need to do is organically grow your permission-based email contact list.

There are both online and offline methods of growing your list. And depending on what type of business you’re in, each may have its place in your repertoire.

Constant Contact has many methods for growing your list built directly into your account.

Where can you find these list building tools?

These list sign-up tools can be found by going to your “Contacts” tab and clicking on the aptly named “Grow My Contact List.” You’ll notice that you have the ability to do the following:

  • Create a sign-up form link to put on your website
  • Install an app on your Facebook Page so people can join your email list directly in Facebook
  • Set up a text message capability as a way people can join your email list
  • Set up a QR code people can scan with their mobile device to join you email list

Where should you start to grow your email list?

The first stop to growing your email list should be to set up a sign-up link on your website.

Too many organizations have a, “Contact Us” page set up on their website hoping to grow their list through inquiries. While this is a valid method of collection, oftentimes people are just interested in your content and don’t have an immediate inquiry. By providing them an avenue to join your email list quickly and easily you make it far more likely for them to do so.

Also, some websites allow you to collect email addresses through a form, but they inadvertently create an additional step for you. When the website collects the email addresses you then have to export them from your site and upload them to your Constant Contact account. When you use the link we provide in your account it cuts out the middle man and can save you time in your day.

Then use social media to grow your email list

Once you’ve started collecting email addresses on your website, it’s also a great idea to begin collecting email addresses through social media. You can share the link directly to your sign-up form on your social media accounts and we have a Facebook app that you can install into your Business Page that will allow you to collect addresses right within Facebook.

Your social media collections don’t have to stop there

Your best advertisement is always going to be word of mouth. Your existing subscribers can help you find new ones—if you make it easy for them. When you create your email be sure to include the Social Share Bar. This little bar allows your audience to post an email they’ve received from you to their social media pages. Once somebody endorses you on their page, it can very likely incline their cohorts to connect with you as well.

Don’t forget to share your email with your own social connections

Is it possible that somebody is following you on Twitter, but isn’t on your email marketing list? The answer is a resounding yes. With Simple Share you can automatically post your email out to your social media pages and entice somebody following you on your existing social networks to join your list as well.

When creating your email you can also incorporate a Join My Mailing List (JMML) button. Many people have asked why you would want to include a JMML button when the people receiving this email are already on your list. This isn’t always the case. If the email was forwarded to them, seen on social media, or posted to an archive on your website they may be seeing your content for the first time. Always make it as easy as possible for new recipients to join your list.

Let people use their mobile devices to join your email list

People can also join your email list by text message and by scanning a QR code. I was buying some new shoes the other day and while I was waiting in line I saw a sign on the back of the register that read, “Text Join,” to whatever their phone number was and you would receive an additional 5% off your order. I texted the number and provided my email address. I showed the confirmation to the clerk and he discounted my order. It was so simple, yet so valuable for both parties involved.

This Text-to-Join option is easy and free within your Constant Contact account for US customers. However, the text message option only collects the email address and sometimes you may want to collect more information.

Some tips for growing a quality email list

All of the aforementioned options are free, so if you haven’t set them up already, I highly recommend you start. In addition, it seems so silly to say, but I’m constantly amazed by how many people simply don’t ask for email addresses. Did you know that on average 52% of people asked will provide their email address? (Source: Email Marketing For Dummies) That’s a little better than one in two people simply by asking.

Another great way I’ve seen customers grow their list is by using incentives. But I always suggest that the incentive coincide with the goal of the business. By keeping the incentive tied to your business objectives you generate a higher quality list. Email marketing is about generating a high quality list, not necessarily a high quantity list.

Remember to set expectation for your subscribers

When using any of these collection methods, please make sure you always set appropriate expectations with your audience. If I’ve noticed one place where people go wrong consistently, it’s not telling their audience what they can expect to receive.

The number one unsubscribe reason in the industry is over communication and the number two reason is irrelevant content. To avoid these altogether, make sure you tell your audience, “The what, then when, and the why of what they’re going to receive.” If you tell me I’m going to receive a monthly newsletter, make sure I get one monthly around the same day and time each month. This not only builds out a clear expectation with your audience, it also builds trust. If you set the appropriate expectation and then meet that expectation I can come to rely on your brand.

I would love to hear your comments about the success and missteps you found while growing your email list.

Want to get some hands-on training about using Email Marketing from Constant Contact? See if there’s a Boot Camp in your area.