7 tips to grow your email audience

Over the past few months, we’ve discussed calendar based and behavior based email marketing. But there’s a classic chicken or the egg problem… how do you grow your list of emails in the first place?

Use email capture forms to transform your website from a digital brochure into a lead generation tool.

1. Create landing pages for gated content.

Create useful content and charge the price of their email address for access to it. White papers and eBooks that are delivered in PDF format is not the easiest way to capture email addresses, but for many companies, it is the most effective way to grow the marketing list.

The content needs to be focused on solving customer problems, not selling your products and services. Of course, add contact information and links to other useful information, but avoid selling terminology unless your sales cycle is very short. You have their attention. Focus on building awareness and trust.

2. Display eye-catching signup forms at the right time.

Active, behavior-based forms are more effective than static forms in the footer of your web pages or sign up links. Marketers put those annoying, browser take-over sign up forms in your face because they work. If these don’t fit your style experiment with less intrusive signup forms that slide up from the bottom of the page or slide in from the side.

The key is to show these forms at the right time:

  • Don’t show the form within seconds of someone landing on your home page. Allow a little time for the visitor to get to know you.
  • Show the form after someone has been on your website for several minutes or has visited several pages.
  • Display the form when someone gets to the bottom of a long web page, or blog or project post.

3. Keep an eye on bounce rates and unsubscribes.

Hard bounces and unsubscribes are a fact of life in email marketing. Don’t let unsubscribes get you down – you don’t want to be everything to everyone.

A hard bounce occurs when an email address does not exist. Since average employee tenure is around five years these days, expect 20% of your email addresses to go bad every year. If you send an email newsletter every month this works out to around 1.7% bounce rate on average. Expect it. Use it.

A hard bounce indicates your contact is no longer at the company. This is invaluable information for your sales reps.

4. Add a “sign me up” checkbox on your contact page form.

Someone interested enough to fill out a contact form may be interested enough to sign up for your newsletter. My experience is that people will normally not check the box if the message is simply “Sign up for our newsletter”.

While it is tempting, and would likely increase signups, don’t pre-check the checkbox. CASL made this illegal in Canada and it isn’t good for establishing trust everywhere else. If you market in Europe you also need to adhere to GDPR requirements.

The next two tips will help get that checkbox checked.

5. Build trust with social proof.

People trust their peers more than they trust you. Leverage this by adding one or both of these to your signup forms:

  • A customer testimonial about how useful your newsletter is.
  • The number of subscribers you have – if it’s over a thousand or so.

Both of these build trust, but the testimonial may be your only option if you’re starting out. To get the first testimonial, call or send a personal email to a few people you know well and ask them what they thought and if they have any improvement suggestions.  If you don’t get a testimonial the first time, implement feedback and you’ll get that testimonial before long.

6. Make it clear what people are signing up for.

Communicate what it is that people are signing up for. Let them know how often you’ll be sending them emails and what it will be about. Keep it short.

7. Leverage Direct Mail

If you know me you know I can’t go a day, or write a blog post, without extolling the benefits of direct mail. And I’m primarily a digital marketer! Read my PrintMediaCentr blog post on email marketing problems solved by direct mail for additional ideas.

Once you have a landing page for useful content (tip #1), send an oversized postcard promoting the content. Purchase a targeted list or send it to existing customers that would find it useful. Don’t do a one-off campaign, leverage your marketing investment and send the direct mail as a step in your ongoing prospect nurturing programs.

While there are no guarantees in marketing, you have opportunities to grow your audience if you aren’t doing these seven things. If you’d like more ideas, read my How to Grow Your Email Marketing Audience blog post.

More posts from Tod


tod_cordill_print media centr
Tod Cordill helps small and medium-sized companies integrate digital marketing channels into existing sales and marketing efforts to more efficiently drive business growth. Tod has worked in a variety of industries including software, manufacturing, printing, and eCommerce and continues to work with similar companies via his work at Moderno Strategies. Tod combines his P&L perspective with engineering problem-solving structure to help clients grow their business.
Connect with Tod: @todcordill on Twitter and on LinkedIn

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