Does asking for emails make you, very, very afraid?

Does the phrase ‘building an email list’ strike fear in your heart?

Do you feel utterly unequipped when it comes to using email marketing to grow your business?

Do you understand the need to have an email list, but shudder at the thought of actually asking customers to sign up?

Well, we at RedCappi have put together this handy guide, just for you. Email marketing doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming, and believe it or not, you can start building your business email list today.

Here are 24 down-to-earth ways you can start building your email list right now.

24 No-Nonsense Ways to Grow Your Business Email List (plus bonus tips just for brick and mortar businesses)

1. Incentivize sign ups with a free download

In the early days of the internet, having a ‘subscribe to our newsletter’ form on your site was often enough to get the ball rolling. But these days? People need a reason – an authentic, solid reason – to hand over their email.

Create something of value to offer your new subscribers. This could be as simple as a 2 page guide, or something as elaborate as a 50 page white paper.

Whatever it is, make sure it’s available exclusively to your email subscribers, and that’s it’s worth people handing over inbox privileges.

2. Ask for emails at offline events

If you frequent trade shows or industry events, don’t be afraid to ask for email addresses. A non-threatening way to do this is to hold an on-site contest and ask for a valid email address on the entry form.

3. Guest blog: offer a free information product in your bio

Whenever you have the opportunity to contribute a guest post on another blog, be sure to include an opt-in incentive in your bio.

For instance, along with a short blurb about yourself, reference the ‘great, earth-shattering new ebook you’re offering free for a limited time on your site’.

4. Hold a free webinar

It’s pretty hard to get people to pay for a webinar these days, but offering valuable information in a free webinar can be a fantastic way to garner some new list members.

And because you already know that these folks are highly-interested in what you have to say, they’re likely to be engaged with, and appreciative of, the content you offer in your newsletter.

5. Ask current clients/customers to sign up

Particularly if you’re just starting to grow your business’s email list, you may have a wealth of customers or clients who aren’t yet on your list.

Don’t be shy! These folks already like you. Ask nicely if you can add them to your email list, and let them know all the amazing benefits they’ll receive from being a valued subscriber.

6. Hold a contest

Making newsletter sign-up a requirement of a contest or giveaway is one of the fastest ways to grow your list.

Just be careful: make sure the prize you’re offering is highly-relevant to your product or service. Otherwise, you could end up with a huge list of members who are utterly uninterested in what you have to offer.

7. Add a ‘join email list’ check box on your contact form or check out page

Who says you can only ask for emails on your opt-in box?

Include a ‘sign up for our list’ checkbox at the bottom of your site’s contact form or on your checkout page. They’re already engaged with you, so you know they’re interested in what you have to say.

8. Have a prominent subscribe box on every page of your site

If you don’t capture an email address the first time someone visits your site, you may never have a second chance.

Be sure your site visitors can’t miss your opt-in box. According to Social Triggers, 7 of the best places to put your opt-in box are:

  • In a feature box
  • At the top of your sidebar
  • After each post
  • In the footer of your site
  • On your about page
  • In the small bar at the top of your page
  • In a pop-up box (tread carefully!)

9. Offer exclusive promo codes to subscribers

Research shows that up to 58% of people join business email lists for the discounts.

Keep your subscribers happy by offering exclusive discounts, deals and promo codes just for being a subscriber. Not only will this help you grow your list, it will help you keep your current subscribers.

10. Use segmentation to offer specific benefits to specific groups of subscribers

Having specific signup pages and opt-in forms for different groups of potential subscribers can make a world of difference in your subscription rates. It also keeps your subscribers very, very happy, as you can offer them information and discounts that are highly-relevant to their needs and interests.

11. Offer teaser content

Marketing Profs is a great example of a company that offers just enough of an article to leave you wanting more. The trick is, you have to hand over your email address in order to access it.

While it can be tricky to rank well organically for articles that are partly ‘gated’, if you can pull it off, you too can have 608K email subscribers.

12. Offer valuable, unique content (not available on your website)

Generally speaking, offering a newsletter that consists merely of your latest blog posts just isn’t going to cut it.

Make sure your subscribers don’t regret handing over their email; offer high-quality, valuable content they couldn’t access otherwise.

13. Promote your list to your social media followers

Your social media followers already like you, so don’t feel bad about asking them to join your list.

Link to archived versions of your newsletter from within Facebook posts, tweets and LinkedIn updates, or even come right out and ask your comrades to hand over their email.

14. Offer testimonials about your newsletter on the opt-in form

Already have a bunch of satisfied subscribers? Ask for testimonials you can use on your opt-in form.

Help alleviate the risk of signing up for your list by showing potential subscribers that your emails are worth it.

15. Host a local meetup and ask for emails

If you’re a social butterfly who’s interested in gathering a group of like-minded individuals for a meetup in your community, why not create a meetup group?

For instance, if you run a catering business, create a local ‘Foodies’ group, sponsored by…guess who! Ask for emails as part of the sign up process, and add a local element to your email list.

16. Talk up the benefits of being on the list

One of the golden rules of copywriting is to talk about benefits before features. Same goes for enticing people to sign up for your business email list.

Rather than starting with a feature – “Join our list to receive weekly golf tips”, lead with the main benefit people will receive from being on your list: “Become a better golfer in 6 weeks”.

17. Put your product brochures behind an email gate

Although you must tread carefully with this one, when done right, it can yield excellent results.

If you offer pdf’s with detailed product information, consider requiring an email address to access the documents. To make sure you’re not scaring off potential customers, just be sure you freely offer all the necessary information elsewhere on the website. The ‘gated’ product brochures can just be the icing on the cake.

18. Consider making your homepage all about capturing emails

Social Triggers does a great job of making it’s homepage about 1 thing: getting emails.

If building your email list is the #1 goal of your website, consider giving your homepage the express goal of capturing leads.

Put your opt-in box in a prominent position on the page, and use a strong, singular call to action to entice readers to sign up.

19. Add a signup form on your Facebook page

Allow your Facebook fans to easily sign up for your business email list right from within Facebook. Red Cappi gives you the ability to easily integrate your opt-in form onto your Facebook page, so you don’t have to be a techie to pull it off!

20. Add a link to signup form on e-receipts

If you email receipts to your customers or clients, add a link to your sign up page on the receipt. Don’t forget to offer a reason for signing up!

21. Start a loyalty program

In addition to receiving the coupons and discounts that all email subscribers receive, consider starting a loyalty program. You can eaily create a loyalty program with services such as SpotOn. Customers can opt to receive standard sales emails in addition to loyalty program communications.

22. Make sure your emails have a ‘forward to friend‘ option

People love to share a good deal! Make sure it’s easy for your subscribers to forward your emails to a friend with a prominent ‘share‘ button.

23. Use QR codes to encourage easy sign ups

QR codes offer a quick and easy way for people to subscribe to your list simply by scanning with their smartphone (rather than having to type in an url). You can use your opt-in QR code on your website, but you can also incorporate it into your offline marketing tools like signs, posters, and even on your business card.

24. Offer referral incentives

If your fantastic content and discounts aren’t enough to get customers to share your emails with friends, why not offer a bonus or incentive for email referrals?

For instance, offer a 10% discount or free gift for each person who signs up for your list due to their referral.

Bonus: 3 Tips for Brick and Mortar Businesses

And because not all businesses are strictly online, here are some bonus tips for you brick & mortar business owners!

25. Ask for email at check out

Give your employees an incentive to ask for email addresses when customers ring up their purchase. It could be a cash bonus, or something as simple as an extra employee discount or small gift.

26. Provide a sign up form at the register

Provide a signup sheet on a clipboard at the register. Encourage customers to sign up by offering an immediate 10% discount on their purchase, or the promise of exclusive future discounts and promo codes.

RedCappi is happy to provide you with a blank signup form that you can print and start using immediately!

27. Add a ‘join email list‘ check box on comment cards

If you provide comment cards to your customers or guests, consider adding an ‘add me to your email list’ check box.

Make sure to mention the benefits of joining the list, such as receiving discounts or promo codes.

Remember: when it comes to your email list, there is no substitute for high-quality, original content. Offering incentives to join your list is great, but continually providing awesome content is what’s going to keep them subscribed.

When it comes down to it, having an active, responsive subscriber base of 100 beats a 1000-member list who just signed up to get a freebie!

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut