Email marketing remains an effective promotional channel. Data reported on by eMarketer shows that email has an average ROI of 122 percent — that's over four times the ROI of social media and paid search. In fact, according to Campaign Monitor's 2016 Year in Review, the per-dollar ROI for email marketing is rising, growing from $38 in 2015 to $44 in 2016. With statistics like this, it makes sense to learn how to grow your email list quickly, effectively and ethically.

Complying with CAN-SPAM

There are many ways to capture email addresses, but before diving into them, it's important to be aware of the legal requirements around sending email marketing messages. The FTC's CAN-SPAM Act sets the boundaries for how you may collect and use email addresses and send email marketing messages.

Here are some important guidelines to help you stay compliant:

  • Always ask for permission explicitly when you collect email addresses.
  • Clearly state how you intend to use them.
  • Do not borrow or buy email lists from other businesses.
  • If you use a form to collect email addresses, make sure the "opt-in" check boxes are conspicuous and easy to select.
  • Include a straightforward, easily visible "unsubscribe" link in every email communication.
  • Be sure every email has a clear, descriptive subject line and your company's physical address at the bottom of the body.

What about your current customers? You can send an email inviting them to opt in to future communications. This can help ensure that you aren't abusing your existing relationship with them, since they have a chance to opt out. Review the FTC's requirements to make sure that your opt out process is compliant.

Now that we've got the legalese out of the way, let's look at how to grow your email list.

1. Add a Sign-Up Box on Your Website

The box should make it clear that customers are choosing to receive emails from your company and that they can opt out at any time. Many email systems provide code that you can use to instantly create a basic sign-up box and form on your website.

2. Use Pop-Ups

Although they can be intrusive and, let's face it, annoying, pop-up boxes are still effective and can be a useful way to grab your website visitors' attention.

3. Invite Customers to Opt-In at Point of Sale

People at this point in the funnel are likely excited about their purchases and interested in receiving discounts, coupons and additional information from your company.

4. Add "Share" Buttons

People can easily click the button to send your emails on to friends and colleagues, who may be more likely to read something sent from someone they know and trust.

5. Offer Unique and Useful Information

Offer an incentive, such as a whitepaper, case study or feature-rich video, in exchange for an email sign-up. If the content is of high value, other websites might link to the offer, which can greatly increase your reach.

6. Add a Sign-Up Box on Social Media

Social media sites such as Facebook offer a tab on company pages to add a sign-up box.

7. Build a Unique Sign-Up Page

Create a landing page exclusively for email sign-ups. Then, link to the page wherever you can, for example, from your electronic business cards and social media "About" descriptions.

8. Include a Link in Your Blog Posts

If your business has a blog, include a short call to action and a link to your email sign-up page at the end of each post.

9. Use Physical Sign-Up Sheets

Yes, they're old-fashioned, but, yes, they still work. If your business is of the brick-and-mortar variety, or if you meet with customers in person at all, place a sign-up sheet at the reception counter, near the cash register or wherever people are sure to see it. Make sure it clearly explains that people are signing up for your email list.

10. Use Package Inserts

Package inserts are a great way to grow your email list. Print a small card with an invitation to join your email list and the URL of the page where people can sign up. Then, slip it into every card, bill, letter and outbound package. Printed inserts can also be shared at trade shows, events and business meetings to continue to grow your email list.

Of course, the real secret to how to grow your email list is to produce content that people want to read. Original, exciting, engaging newsletters and email messages that help customers solve problems or answer questions, or whet their appetite for your products or services, are the real reason that people will subscribe to your email list. When you continually produce excellent content and send it out in regular emails, your list should continue to grow.

An email list is a valuable business asset, so never share, sell or rent your list to any other business. Guard it carefully by making a backup copy, and always honor requests from those wishing to unsubscribe. Over time, your list can grow to be a marketing powerhouse.

Tags: Email Marketing Campaigns