Building Your Email Marketing List

More is not necessarily better when it comes to your email list, which should be composed only of those who know you or those who have agreed to receive your messages. And the most valuable names are those of qualified prospects who may one day hire you, so make sure anyone who’s expressed interest in your work is on your list.

“My list includes almost everyone I’ve ever met,” says Lauri Baram, principal of Clifton Park, NY-based Panarama Design. When she started sending our her monthly email newsletters in 2002, she sorted her email inbox in alphabetical order and chose clients, colleagues and friends she thought might be interested. Then she went through her (offline) Rolodex, as well as a directory of the local chapter of the American Marketing Assn., adding only people who would recognize her name.

Now, as she makes new contacts, she adds them to her list, which is always growing. “As a follow-up to meeting someone at a networking event, I send a recent message and ask if they want to be on the list. They usually agree because they know that I’m sending personal content, not a spam campaign.” The best way to expand your list is to always be in list-growing mode. When talking to anyone about your work, whether in person, on the phone or via email, offer to keep in touch by adding them to your list. Steve Hill, of hair on fire creative marketing in Santa Clarita, CA, often says to a new contact, “You sound like someone who could benefit from some fresh marketing ideas. I have an email newsletter that I send out every month that has articles and case studies about marketing geared for small-business owners. If you’d like, I can add your name to my list.”

5 List-Building Tips
1. Send a one-time email message to everyone you know inviting them to be on your list. You don’t need permission to do that, provided they really know you.

2. Mention your newsletter everywhere, including in your signature file and when anyone asks about your business.

3. Make it easy to sign up on your Web site. Encourage visitors to subscribe on your homepage and anywhere else that makes sense.

4. Encourage viral marketing. At the bottom of every message in your campaign, include an easy way for people to forward the message to others who may benefit. Also include an easy way to unsubscribe.

5. Don’t assume you have permission just because you have someone’s email address. If you want to add someone to your list but aren’t sure if they’ll welcome your emails, send them an introductory message, tell them how they’ll benefit and then wait for their response.