4 Practical Email List Growth Strategies

To stay on par with the email marketing initiatives of other small- to medium sized businesses, enterprises need to acquire a list of approximately 3,500 subscribers, according to a recent iContact study (wsm.co/smbemailstats).

While this list size may seem large to some and small to others, what is important is not the volume but the quality of subscribers acquired. A list that contains 5,000 subscribers but receives low open rates is clearly less valuable than a list with half as many subscribers that maintains high open rates.

Growing a large email list of high-quality subscribers is possible but enterprises must implement a few best practices and avoid bad ones to ensure their email marketing initiatives are successful. Get started by following the four tips below:

1. Ask for subscribers anywhere and everywhere

Typically, consumers are not going to seek out an email subscription form, which means that the only way to acquire subscribers' information is to ask for it.

Mac Ossowski, director of education at GetResponse, recommends that businesses enable customers to easily enter their data regardless of which touch point (website, social media, search, etc) they are reaching the brand on.

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"Leverage your company's online presence to capture more emails," said Ossowski. "Install the sign-up form on your website, blog, Facebook fan page, online store checkout page or even at the points of sale at your physical locations."

2. Attract with content

People are more likely to subscribe to an email list if they can first see what they are going to get, according to Ron Cates, director of new market development at Constant Contact. This is why it is a good idea for businesses to display content examples or newsletter archives next to or near the subscribe button.

Businesses can also attract subscribers by offering gated content, a strategy that Conor Keenan, SEO analyst and lead email marketer at Perfect Search Media, is familiar with.

"Essentially, 'gated content' is having white papers, case studies, training manuals, how-to-guides, or some other form of content that is 'gated off,' and the only way to gain access to that content is by providing some personal information, such as your name and email address," said Keenan. "You can then segment emails by what type of content the person requested to ensure that they get relevant information."

3. Incentivize the right way

Offering incentives in exchange for an email address usually results in an influx of new subscribers. In order to avoid the consumers who subscribe only to receive something free, businesses should choose their incentives wisely.

"A way to avoid (low-quality subscribers) is by offering promotions for things only people in your niche value," said Kawthar Suleiman, Internet marketing manager for retailer Jafrum International. "For example, Jafrum.com created our own poster with motorcycle quotes and got the biker community's input as well via social media to create buzz and get people talking. We gave away 30 posters at the end of 30 days and had more than 1,000 high-quality entries of people who are passionate about their bikes and their gear. Basically, the goal is to offer something low in monetary value, but high in emotional value."

4. Don't take shortcuts

Oftentimes, email marketers will take a shortcut in growing their subscriber numbers by purchasing an email list. This tactic is strongly discouraged. Since the people on a purchased email list did not opt-in to this marketing campaign, chances are that they aren't interested in the content being sent to them. Bought lists also frequently contain invalid email addresses, fake record and bad data.

Conversely, a list that contains responsive customers is surely worth the investment, even if it takes some time to build. This is because a quality list will help to increase valuable digital metrics, including conversions, engagement, time-on-site and page views (to name a few).

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