If you want to grow your business, you’ve got to grow your contact list…it’s that simple.
This is especially true if you’re using an email newsletter. Here’s why: Print newsletters can be stacked in locations where the people in your target market congregate; in this way, you can get your newsletter into the hands of people you don’t yet know. You can also hand your newsletter to people when you first meet them, and pass it out to participants at your workshop or speech.
Email newsletters, however, live by different rules. Consequently, the only people who will get your ezine are those who have specifically given you permission to send it to them.
And because your newsletter is how most prospective clients begin a relationship with you, it is important to have in place strategies for continually growing that list.
(It’s worth noting that it’s a fairly accepted practice to send print newsletters to rented mailing lists in conjunction with a direct mail effort. But while there are email lists available for purchase, they are dubious at best and almost never recommended for service professionals.)
So here are six strategies for continual list growth.
People want to receive something they value in exchange for agreeing to give you their contact info. For example: an industry report, an assessment, an e-book and other free resources. Make it an absolutely irresistible offer that will compel people in your market to give you their contact info.
NOTE: As you build this email list through your website, you can concurrently grow your snail mail list for direct mail marketing purposes. Just add physical address fields to your website sign-up box and you’ve got your choice of how to contact a person. Doing so, however, may mean trading more information for fewer sign-ups; you risk “form abandonment” if you require for too many pieces of information. Again, the more irresistible your sign-up offer, the better the chance of getting all you want from your contact.
2. Use existing “prime real estate.” Include invitational verbiage in all of these places, at a minimum…they keep working for you, without any but the initial investment of time and money:
In your email signature (this is the standard material underneath your name…it gets automatically affixed to every email you send)
- On the back of your business card
- On your blog, if you have one
- On your profile on any social/professional networking sites you belong to and in any forum posts you may make
- In your forward-this-to-a-friend message in your ezine, inviting current subscribers to send it to others who may benefit. Be sure to include a subscribe link in your newsletter so that people who receive a forwarded copy may easily sign up to receive it directly from you.
- On any autoresponders that go out from your organization
- On brochures, letterhead and any other printed matter
3. Collect addresses in person. If you do public speaking or workshops, pass around a sign-up sheet to collect contact info. Or offer a prize drawing in exchange for business cards. I always grow my list handsomely with this technique when I have a booth at industry conferences. In each case, make it clear that respondents will receive a complimentary subscription to your newsletter; if they want to immediately “opt out” from your newsletter, have them write that on the back of their business card before they give it to you.
4. Submit articles. Online article directories are places that ezine publishers and others go to obtain free content. They are allowed to use articles in exchange for keeping intact the “bio box” at the bottom, which gives information about the author. These bio boxes should always include a link directing readers to sign up for your newsletter (in exchange for that irresistible offer you’ll be making).
5. Offer teleclasses, recorded/live interviews, preview classes, etc. These can be incredibly effective list-building tools, especially when they’re free. Include a little sentence on the registration page letting them know that by signing up for the class, they will receive a complimentary subscription to your ezine. My very first free teleclass, an interview with LinkedIn expert Chip Lambert, added 200 names to my list. Can you see how doing many of those would grow an email list exponentially faster than letting them just trickle in through your website?
6. Partner with others. This strategy extends your reach to the people who already have a relationship with your JV partner (i.e., that person’s list), as well as to those who are interested in that person or his/her topic. Again, using Chip Lambert as an example, the teleseminar was attended by people from his list and from many others curious about using LinkedIn to build a private practice. That netted me new names of people interested in building their private practice, just the perfect folks for my newsletter services.
Co-registration is another way to partner with others who serve the same market in order to grow your list. In this tactic, visitors signing up for a free subscription or other service at one website are offered the chance to opt-in to other offers on the “thank-you page” that appears after the initial registration. In other words, visitors are given the chance to opt-in to multiple publications or lists at the same time.
Don’t Forget This!
With any of these list-building strategies (and there are many, many more), the underlying assumption is that you will always provide for easy unsubscribing.
And keep in mind that your goal in growing your contact list is not sheer numbers, but people who are at least in the ballpark of your target market. The more targeted and “qualified” your list is, the more responsive it will be to the messages you share in your newsletters and other communications.
List building doesn’t happen overnight, but it can happen faster when you put some strategic thought—and then ACTION!—into it.