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How do I build an opt in email marketing list?

Published on 4th March 2014

Email is still the primary way most business people communicate

Email is still the primary way most business people communicate

One of the barriers to getting email marketing off the ground is creating a clean opt in list of contacts. You should think of this as an acquisition plan and have this as part of your overall marketing plan as it will drive a lot of additional business for you.

Here are some of the ways I’ve built my lists.

Current Clients

We all have clients so this is the first place to start. Here are the activities I do:

  • Create an email list of all your clients including multiple people in the same client if it’s appropriate.
  • Segment these contacts if appropriate. Most email marketing services, I am familiar with Constant Contact, Mailchimp and LyrisHQ, offer ways to segment those clients. For example I have clients on different CMS platforms, so if I want to send an email regarding WordPress I can just send this to WordPress users. I also have clients on different services, web design, local marketing, content marketing, etc. so I try to keep these in mind when I am thinking about cross selling my services.
  • You only really need an email address and first name, however I always include the surname and company in my Constant Contact account, so if it’s a colleague using the system they can easily see what’s what.
  • Don’t forget to add new clients to your list, ensure it’s part of your on boarding process. Then send an welcome email thanking them for their business and letting them know that they will be receiving emails from you regarding interesting and useful stuff.

Prospects you have had a meeting with

Usually this data is in the form of a business card. I will cover how I get business card data into my system in another post. If a prospect has been interested enough to see you and during the meeting you identified some areas where you may be able to do business, then these are a good recipient of your emails.

Suppliers you work with and have a relationship with

Again usually this data is in the form of a business card. I will cover how to get this into your system shortly. If a supplier wants to keep up to date with your business then why not help them by sending them information. They can also be a great source of referrals.

People you have met at face to face networking sessions

When I attend a networking group I always ask the organiser for a list of attendees ideally with email addresses. Where I think it’s required I also try to ask the group if they mind getting interesting and useful information from me in the future by email. This has allowed me to grow a very large list by attending some great speed networking events as well as smaller local networking groups.

Business shows and trade shows

If you are on a stand or doing a workshop/seminar/presentation always offer a freebie that you can send out by email. It has to be of value and might be a copy of the presentation, a how to guide, or just a list of some great show only offers. By doing so you again grow your list.

If you are an attendee why not looks for exhibitors that may need your services as ask if they would mind you sending them some information be email and take a card. Try and get a relevant email address, there’s no point in sending email to someone who can’t take action.

Have an opt in form in a prominent position on your web site

Opt in forms will attract interested prospects so are a great source for a list. To keep things simple I only ask for a first name and email address. The more you ask for the less opt ins you’ll get. All good email services will manage this automatically for you so when someone completes the form they are automatically added to a list in your chosen service. This means no work for you. You can also automate sending them a message thanking them, or use double opt in system for added security where they get an email asking them to confirm they want to subscribe by clicking a link.

DON’T BUY A LIST

“But Alan it’s an opt in list” I hear you say; no it’s not. An opt in list is a list of people that have signed up with YOU to get information from YOU.

I know this can be tempting but after reading this you are likely to have a decent number of contacts to start email marketing to. Lists will be rejected by most reputable email marketing service providers, and high bounce rates, unsubscribes, and spam reports will cause you some serious headaches, AND it’s very poor for your reputation.

Learn more

You can learn more about the mechanics and legal issues of email marketing by reading the Wikipedia entry here.

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Categories: Email, Marketing

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