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Building an Email Marketing List

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Email marketing is an essential part of most companies’ online marketing strategy. The most successful email marketing is opt-in marketing, where you send periodic promotional emails to existing customers who want to receive them. That said, just where and how do you get the names and email addresses you need for a successful email marketing campaign? Learn how in this article by Michael Miller, author of Que’s The Ultimate Web Marketing Guide.
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While you can use email marketing to solicit new customers, by renting lists of names, you get better and more consistent results by using promotional emails to solicit repeat business from your existing customer base. Unfortunately, you can’t (or shouldn’t, anyway) automatically send these emails to people who’ve purchased from you; that would be unsolicited spam. Instead, you need to persuade your customers to opt into your mailing list, so you can legitimately place periodic offers into their inboxes.

Where to Ask for Names

In order to avoid spamming your loyal customers with unsolicited commercial email (UCE), you need to get their prior permission for you to email them. That means asking them to opt into your mailings; you can’t just assume that because someone bought something from you that they also want to receive all your mailings.

And it’s not just buying customers. You can also add website visitors to your email mailing list—if they agree.

So how do you get customers and website visitors to give you their email addresses and agree to receive your mailings? Well, you have to ask for it.

There are many places on and off your website where you can ask for email addresses and permission. You shouldn’t restrict yourself to a single permission point; the reality is, the more often you ask customers to opt in to your mailings, the more names you'll collect.

So where are the best places to get customers to opt into your mailings? Here’s a short list:

  • On the home page of your website. Probably not at the very top, however; that’s not the point of your home page. Instead, add some sort of “subscribe to our email list” section nearer the bottom of the page.
  • On a special email preference center page of your website. This page is where customers can manage their email settings, opting into (or out of) multiple lists or newsletters, changing email addresses, and such.
  • On any product page on your website. Just add a "click here to receive more product information via email" link and you’re done.
  • On your site's checkout page. Add a "click here to receive future product announcements" link for best effect.
  • On your site's technical support and customer support pages.
  • On any other page of your website.
  • On your company blog.
  • At the bottom of all email messages you send.
  • Via telephone, when a customer calls for customer service or technical support.
  • If you have retail locations, at a sign-up sheet at the cash register.
  • If you do traditional direct mail, on the printed order form in your catalogs and brochures.
  • If you exhibit at trade shows, at your booth. Make sure you have an email sign-up list at the front counter.

In addition, you and other employees should actively solicit customer names wherever you travel. Ask for business cards and add those people to your email lists.

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