What is the Best Way Grow an Opt-In Email List?

So, you want to start sending out specials and promotions to your prospects, but you’re not sure how to start. How big is your email list? If you don’t have one, then you can’t send them offers. You know you need an email list to send your promotions to, but are you ready to start an email list?

Some businesses will buy or rent an email list to introduce their business to the world. This, however, is not the most effective way to get started with successful email marketing.

Buy, Rent, or Build?

Many business owners think that taking a short cut will help build their list in no time. Unfortunately, this means buying a list from an online source for some people. Buying a list is, in no uncertain terms, a waste of money and time.

When it comes time to email prospects, many people will try buy a list from a broker. This almost never works. Mailings to purchased lists often fail because outdated data. Emails bounce or sit in an email box that is never checked anymore.

Sometimes the mailings fail because an email client marks it as spam, especially if the list vendor sold you email addresses compiled by a data mining or scraping company. Why should somebody buy from you if they’ve never heard of you before and you’re emailing them out of the blue?

By purchasing a list, you’ll be able to get email addresses, and that’s about it. Virtually no quality leads are available when you’re using one of these lists.

Rented lists, while somewhat more targeted, are still problematic if your company is not a well-known brand. You’ll spend several hundred to several thousand dollars to rent a reputable list, then you’ll only get a tiny percentage of responses. Vendors sell rented lists based on demographic information such as age, income, and geographic location. In order to get the most out of a rented list, you’ll have to use it (and cull it for dead addresses) more than once. Each time you use the list, you will have to pay the vendor. This can add up to thousands of marketing dollars wasted if there are few sales.

In order to get the best return on investment, you should build your own list. Your own opt-in list is where you’ll find the best return on investment, and a priceless tool for marketing.

Why Buying a List Is Just a Bad Idea

Most lists that are for sale on the internet supply names, email addresses, and nothing else. There’s no way to know how the vendor collected the email addresses,  or if the people on the list even truly opted in to receive emails.

As a professional, you’re also risking your reputation if you rent such a list. There’s a chance that not only will many of the addresses will be inaccurate, but also there’s a chance that you can face being blacklisted by major email providers. Many email companies set up “honey pot” addresses that they use to catch data miners and spammers. Any emails sent from a blacklisted domain will never see an inbox. Being listed as website that spams can also cause search engine penalties.

It’s not a gamble worth taking.

Building Your Own Opt-In List

The best list you can ever have is one that you own, filled with your own customers and prospects. Creating this list is not something you should put off for a minute longer. It’s easy to add an opt-in list form to your website once you’ve begun building your lists.

While marketers sometimes point to social media as the “next level” of internet marketing, email is still the primary way to communicate. People still check their personal email accounts several times a day. If they’re familiar with your brand, then they may even open up emails that come from you and buy something from you.

If you haven’t been building your list all along, there will be a lot to learn before your opt-in list becomes a profit-making machine. First, you’ll have to think of some clever ways to build your list. Like most aspects of marketing, building a great opt-in list is going to take some legwork.

Collecting Email Addresses for Your List

If you conduct transactions online, you should have customers opt-in for special sales and promotions. In order to capture these email addresses, you may have to promise a coupon or a free download, such as an e-book to people who sign up.  You may have offer incentives for people to join your list, such as giveaways or contests. You may need to promote your email list on other marketing channels, such as your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Wherever you have the opportunity, interact with people who are aware of your brand. Online, you should have a link to join your email list wherever you interact. This can even be in the signature line of your professional email address. When you attend a function, such as a trade show or networking event, always have a way of collecting names and email addresses for your list.

For many businesses online, an email list is the bread and butter of their operation. Sales and promotion announcements, along with news of new products and promotions, will have a better conversion ratio from people who are familiar with your business.

Using Your Opt-In List

Once you have a list of a few hundred people, it will be time to devise a marketing strategy and decide what type of promotions you want to send. Be creative and read up on ad campaigns and emails that have been successful for other companies. You may find that a theme-based or season-based promotion brings in a lot of extra sales, while 24-hour sales events bring in higher volumes of orders.

Keep track of how your sales are doing, and you’ll find that you can tweak your opt-in list to become a highly profitable sales tool. Nurture your mailing list and watch it grow.

By collecting email addresses, you’re building relationships with your customers and prospects. This is just a small piece of the marketing mix that successful online business rely on, but it’s a vital one.

Need more information on how to grow an opt-in email list, SEO, or other marketing tools for small businesses? Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.