Email Marketing Contact Lis

Developing a successful email marketing strategy starts with building a proper contact list.

“Contact lists are the foundation for successful email marketing because they’re more than simply names on a sheet,” Dave McCann, vice president of customer success for Constant Contact, told Business News Daily. “They allow you to keep track of, and engage, your customers instead of wasting time marketing to the masses.”

Quality over quantity
While you might be tempted to focus on building the biggest list possible, SEO and email marketing expert Brian Dean said it is more important to focus on quality over quantity. You want your list to be filled with people who have an interest in your business.

“You can have the best newsletters and the best offers, but if your contact list isn’t a good fit your emails are likely to fall flat,” Dean said.

The key to building a solid contact list is to first engage customers one-on-one online or in-person, McCann said. Then, based on the customer’s positive experience with your business, ask permission to continue the conversation through email. [See Related Story: Best Email Marketing Software for Small Businesses]

“As you add customers to your contact list and engage them, make note of their interests and recent purchases,” McCann said. “This way, you can present them with tailored content and offers that will keep them coming back and looking forward to hearing from you.”

To help small business owners, McCann offers a number of tips to building an email contact list:

Put a sign-up sheet near your checkout.
Ask in person, if possible, especially after a customer has a positive experience. As you ask, reiterate the benefits of subscribing, such as insider deals and exclusive content.
Insert a link in your email signature and social media bios so customers can automatically subscribe. Avoid forcing customers to fill out long forms and questionnaires.
Include back issues of your newsletter on your website so customers can see your content.
Add a sign up form on your Facebook page.
Create a “reasons to sign up page,” featuring feedback from customers and post it on your website or next to the sign-up sheet.
Optimize your online listings on sites including Yelp with a link to subscribe.
Include a text-to-join feature so people can easily sign up through their smartphone.
Add a QR code to a flyer, business card, brochure or post so people can scan-to-join your email list.
Dean encouraged small businesses to make sure their sign-up forms are on several places on their website.

“Many small businesses place a single form buried in their page’s footer,” Dean said. “From lots of testing, I’ve found that more forms equal more subscribers.”

In addition, it never hurts to entice potential subscribers with something valuable. Dean advises small businesses to create something that will draw the attention of customers, like an eBook, report or case study that will make their subscription worthwhile.