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Social media messages and email messages both stream into our view whether it be via a news feed or your inbox. The difference is email is far less fleeting than social media.

Social media updates fly by quickly, and it’s not likely we scroll back to the previous day(s) to read posts. But with email, we take our time in our inbox. In 2012, McKinley Global Institute found that people spend up to 25% of their workday in their inbox. Email can hold our attention and demand response.

While numbers do vary by industry, typically, email converts at higher levels for reads, clicks and conversions than social media, making email an important part of your marketing and sales strategy.

But how do you grow the number of emails on your email list?

Executing successfully on email strategies requires having a healthy and clean email list. The wrong way to build your list is by purchasing email addresses in order to quickly acquire as many contacts as possible (possibly within certain industries or demographics) and to then repeatedly “spray and pray.” Another option is to rent a list. This involves a third-party company that sends your email to a list you never see and about which you have no insights. Don’t ever implement either of these tactics.

These lists contain lower quality contacts in terms of interest and relevancy, making success rates harder to achieve. The people who opted-in on the sellers’s list never opted-in to receive emails from you and probably aren’t going to do much for you in the long run besides get your IP, domain or email server blacklisted.

Additionally, email marketing services like MailChimp won’t let you utilize their service to send to lists you’ve bought. If you find a service that doesn’t require explicit opt-in, it’s likely their IP has already been compromised or has a poor reputation, making delivery of your emails improbable or unlikely.

So what should you do?

These days, you want your list to be fresh and full of contacts who want to hear from you. You want them to have voluntarily opted-in and given you their email.

Create content or other gated assets and useful tools

Content, whether an ebook, whitepaper, webinar or other free resource, can be “traded” for contact information. By offering valuable information, you can request users sign-up to gain access.

Blog

Your blog, if it contains relevant and useful information that is published consistently, can attract users who want to stay informed about new posts and who are willing to subscribe for notifications. Make sure you include a subscription form or link to a subscription page in every post, your blog template or sidebar.

Promote your blog and content via social media

You can drive traffic to your landing pages and blog pages where users can then submit their email addresses via social media. Promote every asset and blog post across the most appropriate social channels.

Further, Facebook allows you to create a call-to-action button on your Facebook page. Consider promoting your blog or asset using your cover photo which is in proximity to the call-to-action button. Use the call-to-action to direct the user to a landing page or subscription page that encourages sign-ups.

 

Facebook CTA

Use your website

Include ways to capture email addresses throughout your site. Place calls-to-action that direct users to landing pages or utilize subscription forms wherever possible.

If you are using a subscription or opt-in form, make sure it is prominent (at least as prominent as your social sharing icons). Let people know what they get by subscribing or signing up. Try different form locations and methods to see what works best for your site and visitors.

 

Christopher Penn’s subscribe popup

 

Create email marketing campaigns people will want to forward

You might be thinking, “If I already have email address, how can I leverage those to grow my list?” By providing great content and offers, you can encourage your subscribers to share and forward your emails to their colleagues and friends who might also want to engage with your content. Be sure to include a link or button to simplify sharing.

Reduce unsubscribes

Reducing unsubscribes can help your list grow. You don’t want to lose two email addresses for every one you gain. By optimizing the unsubscribe process and giving people the option of less frequent emails, you can reduce the likelihood of opting-out entirely.

Segmented lists and targeted content can also reduce unsubscribes or opt-outs. Your readers are people who are giving you their time and attention. Respect that and only provide information relevant to them based on their interests.

Traditional methods

It may be a digital world, but you can still collect emails at offline events. Trade shows or networking events can work well collecting emails either via business cards, sign up sheets or apps provided by top email providers.

Conclusion

Growing your list can be time-consuming and in a world where instant gratification has become the norm, can be frustrating. But in the end, it’s not entirely about the number of emails you have but the quality of those emails and the contacts who own them. Take time to grow your list and don’t be afraid to prune it occasionally removing invalid email addresses or subscribers who are no longer engaged.

 

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