Best Practices for Building Your Email List
While acquiring permission is important when building an email list, there's disagreement about how effective permission is defined. How do you collect email addresses? Here are a few tips to help you out:
1. Offer a sign-up form on your website and blog for your e-newsletter. The ideal time to ask someone for their email address is when they've declared an interest in you and you have their attention. The very obvious and most important example is when someone visits your website. Therefore, feature a newsletter sign-up form in a prominent position on every page of your site, including text that:
- describes the benefits of being a newsletter subscriber;
- clearly states that this is a sign-up form for getting email; and
- indicates how often email will arrive.
This sets appropriate expectations and ensures the subscriber is giving you express permission to send them marketing emails.
Here a few things to consider when designing your newsletter sign-up form:
- Layout and design. Experiment with font types, sizes and colors, background highlighting, and form layout.
- Social proof. Does telling people how many others have already signed up lift conversion rates? What about adding testimonials from satisfied subscribers?
- Incentives. What about rewarding subscribers for joining your list — e.g., offering access to a free e-book or coupon?
- Position. Does placing the form work better on the left-hand side or right-hand side of the page? Top or bottom? Should a subscription form pop-up automatically when a visitor has browsed a certain number of pages or spent a certain amount of time on your site?
Another common tactic is to use a two-stage sign-up form. After simply submitting an email address, subscribers are invited to fill out a more detailed second form on a subsequent confirmation page.
Double opt-in is ideal, but if you’re using single opt-in a best practice is to send an immediate welcome email following sign-up. If a “back to sender” email message comes back, indicating an invalid email address, you can immediately delete the address for good list hygiene. It also provides those rare few who were signed up unwillingly the chance to immediately unsubscribe.
2. Integrate sign-up capabilities to use with website interactions. If the ideal time to invite someone to join your list is when they've shown interest in your brand, it makes sense to build a sign-up opportunity into transactional forms and processes. For example, whenever people do the following:
- register on your website;
- register for an event or webinar;
- go through the payment process for a product or service;
- provide information to get access to content such as a catalog or whitepaper; or
- enter an online competition or complete an online survey.