7 Email List Building Tips for Small Business

Avatar for Maureen McCabe

Maureen McCabe

Image on standard seoplus+ blue triangle background. In the foreground is an arm holding a mobile device with an email icon in the centre. The email icon represents email mailing list building, the subject of the associated blog article.
Image on standard seoplus+ blue triangle background. In the foreground is an arm holding a mobile device with an email icon in the centre. The email icon represents email mailing list building, the subject of the associated blog article.

Trying to expand the reach of your business? Email list building can be a difficult task to tackle if you’ve never done it before, but these seven tips should get you well on your way to creating a strong email list of interested readers. Remember, any time you collect an email address to add to your list, you must take a few steps to ensure you comply with Canada’s anti-spam laws. Most importantly, when asking people to sign up, you must clearly identify your business, you must obtain express consent from the individual (ask them to agree to receive your marketing materials or newsletter), and you must allow them to unsubscribe from your emails if they wish.

1. Tie sign-ups to a free download on your site.

One of the simplest methods available to you as a business of any size, a free giveaway works wonders for getting customers to willingly part with their email addresses and any other personal information you might need to build your list. Make sure you’re offering real value with whatever you’re giving away. Downloadable eBooks, checklists, and how-to guides work great for this – offer your customers just a bit of your expert knowledge in exchange for their email.

2. Put out a call to action on social media.

Remember, there are plenty of people out there who would like to be on your email list, but don’t know about it yet. So put out the call on your social media accounts, to get everyone up to speed. You’ll find that many of the same people who like or follow you will be eager to sign up and get more insight, news, bargains, etc.

3. Attend networking events and reach out.

Networking events exist for a reason: they work. For small businesses, one of your best resources for finding partners and B2B customers will be your local chamber of commerce. If you’re willing to invest a bit more in putting yourself out there, then the next stop will be trade shows, conferences, and other events associated with your industry or field. Make it easy to sign up: have a mobile device handy, or a QR code, or take down information and sign people up manually after.

4. Incentivize sign-ups with coupons or discounts.

Do you have a wallet full of store-specific discount cards and the like in your wallet? Most people do. Use that same principle to build your own list—tie discounts and coupons to your newsletter, and give customers a good reason to go out of their way, even if they’re not the newsletter type.

5. Ask customers at your brick-and-mortar to sign up.

If you run a brick and mortar location, don’t fall into the trap of separating your web activities from your physical activities: marketing is marketing, outreach is outreach. Let customers fill out sign-up sheets at the register, hand out flyers or put up posters with QR codes linking to sign-up pages, etc.

6. Set up a referral system for employees and customers.

Word of mouth works wonders for email list building, as much as it does any other marketing endeavor. Which means that if you give employees and customers a good reason to shill your list to everyone, you’re going to get a lot more signups than you would keeping all the responsibility to yourself.

7. Make sure you put a CTA on all content.

If you run a blog, tweet funny graphics, post on forums, send out emails on other lists, advertise on associates’ newsletters, or promote another type of content, don’t forget to make an appeal to viewers to sign up for your list at every reasonable opportunity.

Remember, these are far from the only email list building tricks out there. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Avatar for Maureen McCabe

Maureen McCabe

Maureen McCabe is a Toronto Marketing Consultant and founder of McCabe Marketing, who works with established small business owners and mid-sized companies to devise and deploy a custom Marketing Action Roadmap™.

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