Grow Your Subscriber List

May 14th, 2005 | By Hilary Soltz Short | No Comments

To reach more recipients and lower your cost per email, growing your database will likely be your first objective. However, the old adage of quality vs. quantity exists here as well. Growing a quality database will provide more business value than expanding your numbers with low-interest recipients. So, how do you achieve database growth and still attract your target audience? With some strategic planning, several proven methods will help you acquire high-quality opt-in subscribers.

Quality is Key

Before you begin attempting to grow your subscriber base, you will need to understand who you want to reach and why they would want to subscribe. Remember the golden rule for subscribers ask- “What’s in it for me?”. If you answer this question for them, they will likely opt-in to your database.

Pay attention to your audience. Attempt to attract those who will benefit from your products and services. Bigger is not better, and with a cleaner more targeted list your results will be much more favorable.

Getting the Data

First step: Start by identifying the key audience segments or subscribers most likely to buy your products or services. Your segments may be defined by categories. For example, if you are identifying customers, you may want to segment them by prospect, previous purchaser, influencer, or reseller.

The next step is to develop audience profile fields for each segment. Perhaps understanding their job position, whether or not they are a decision-maker, the size of their company or their geographic location may help you make strategic targeting decisions in the future.

Remember that gathering this data may not be feasible to do all at once. Your initial goal may be to get the subscriber into your database first, then collect this data as you continue your marketing relationship.

Time for Growth

Once you’ve accomplished these goals, you’re ready to build (or augment) your subscriber base. Here’s some ideas to help you achieve growth:

  • Create an easy sign-up process. Don’t ask for too much information right away. Get the key fields you need (first name, last name, email address) and then ask for the rest through follow-up emails and profile updates. Post your sign-up process in a relevant and high-traffic area on your site.
  • Tell them what’s going to happen. At the registration point, let subscribers know how their data will be used and how frequently you will be sending emails. Link to a privacy policy so they know how what will happen with their personal information. And then deliver what you’ve promised with regards to content and timing.
  • Tell A Friend. Referral marketing works if it is relevant. Email Transmit automatically includes a forward-to-a-friend link with every outgoing message; take advantage of this feature to expand your database. Provide a great offer or interesting content and request that the recipient forward it to their friends, family or colleagues. Then provide a link for those recipients to sign-up for your email list.
  • Run a sweepstakes or promotion. Online sweepstakes and promotions work extremely well when done correctly. To attract your target audience, you may want to run a sweepstakes that offers a prize consistent with the subscriber you want to attract. Ask sweepstakes entrants if they would also like to be part of your email list. Do not pre-check the opt-in box allow users to select it themselves.
  • Run or sponsor an event. Attract new audience offline and ask them to opt-in while attending an event. Or, provide an online RSVP component that allows people to opt-in to your database when they confirm their attendance.
  • Find new audience at trade shows. Whether you are running a booth or meeting people in person, ask professionals in your industry to opt-in to your email list. Have them add their address on a form or into a laptop, and make sure you clearly communicate your privacy policy. If you have the user sign up on paper, have them initial a statement indicating that they understand they are joining an opt-in email marketing list.
  • Advertise the value of your newsletter. Find an industry newsletter, business organization (such as a Chamber of Commerce) or relevant third party and advertise your email newsletter in their communications. You may also want to consider keyword advertising on a search engine, for which the price-per-acquisition is often less than the cost of advertising.
  • Create an archive of newsletters on your website. If your past messages are archived, users can find your content through your web site or from a search engine result. In the archive section of your site, include a highly visible link to your opt-in form so that interested readers can opt-in to your list.

There are many ways to attract new targeted subscribers to your email list. Many are low-cost and require minimal planning, yet can have great impact. Many well-run programs expand databases dramatically, effectively lowering your cost to reach each customer on future campaigns.

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