Growing an Email List Organically: 4 Proven Approaches

Written by Talana Morris on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

We are often approached by clients who are interested in reaching their customers and targets through email marketing, but they aren’t sure how to get started. The very first thing you must do to engage in email marketing is build your target list.

It’s best to build your list organically to ensure you’re sending email only to those who asked for it. In the long run, this can improve your open and engagement rates because you aren’t sending to a large list of people who aren’t interested in what you have to say. Plus, email marketing service providers are sticklers for CAN-SPAM compliance and want to be sure their customers are only sending to contacts that have opted in.

List Building Methods

Keep in mind that methods for building lists can vary depending on what your product/service offering is and whether or not you are targeting businesses or consumers. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  • Website
    Add a simple email signup form to your website. You can place it in a universal location, such as the header or footer, so that it appears on every page as well as use callouts for key pages, such as the home page or a news page. You may wish to be more direct and have it pop up when a visitor reaches your site. If you go with the later approach, think carefully and consider offering an incentive, such as a discount or free download, to make the visitor feel better about being served a pop up. Have your web developer set it up so new subscribers are automatically added to the appropriate list within your email marketing tool (i.e. MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Vertical Response).
  • Rewards Program
    Reward programs are great for brick-and-mortar businesses where customers come in for goods and services. Some businesses reward for purchases and others to celebrate birthdays. If you’re starting out, you may want to consider something as simple as a punch card. Or maybe you’re looking for something more high tech or digital, like FiveStars. Either way, a reward program is a great opportunity to collect email addresses for customers so you can engage with them via email and keep them coming back.
  • Facebook
    You can add an email signup tab to your business Facebook page. Check the help section of your email marketing provider for instructions on how to embed the form on Facebook because each may vary. For instance, here is how to add a MailChimp signup form.
  • Events
    If your company participates in trade shows or events, be sure you have some way of collecting email addresses for customers and leads. Effective methods we’ve seen include give aways, games at the booth, or drawings. The visitor simply drops their card in for a chance to win a prize. You will want to post a disclaimer that they will be added to your email list.

Maintaining Your List

Growing your list organically is great! But, be sure you aren’t losing subscribers along the way. You want to watch your unsubscribe and spam rates. Most of the email provider services will have guidelines for the typical rates by industry so you can have a benchmark.

Avoid this loss challenge by ensuring your emails are effective. Don’t pack too much in, and keep the subject matter relevant to your audience. And, make sure that the mobile version is easy to read.

Give careful consideration to frequency as well. Don’t send a weekly email just to be sending something out. You should have something worthwhile to share. Keep focused on quality, not quantity, and you should be able to maintain and grow your list.

Case in Point

Our client, The Maddox Shop, engaged us to assist with marketing their intimate apparel store that has been in business for more than 80 years. While they provide very personalized service in store and keep records on all of their customers, including purchases, sizes, etc., they had never collected email addresses. We recommended implementing methods for gathering customer email addresses so we could begin emailing them about upcoming sales and other topics.

We started from ground zero in July 2014. Through implementing a customer rewards program, as well as adding website and Facebook sign up forms, we’ve grown the list entirely organically to more than 7,000 people in just under three years. Email is now a vital part of their overall marketing strategy and has led to an increase in sales since it began.

Need Help?

If your business is ready to engage in email marketing, but you need some help building your list or coming up with an overall strategy, give us a call. We’d love to help you.

About Talana Morris

Talana MorrisTalana brings over 20 years of experience in managing complex projects, teams and budgets. In addition to a project management role, Talana also leads digital and event marketing for clients. Her skills span from project management to technical to provide clients with a resource knowledgeable in the process of delivery and the functional requirements.