Now that you know how an email address can help you see what prospective customers are interested in and looking for on your website, and how it can help you build relationships with prospects and lead you to future clients, you’re probably wondering how to best ask for those email addresses. After all, asking someone for their email address immediately tells them ‘I’m probably going to start sending you a bunch of stuff you may not want, which will clutter up your inbox and cost you time in sorting through and deleting it.’ So how do you ensure prospective clients that not only will you send them high-value information that they’ll appreciate and enjoy, but that you’ll do it on a schedule that doesn’t overwhelm them? Essentially, that you’re ‘not like every other company sending out unsolicited email’? The key is how you collect the information from at the very beginning.
What Not To Do
There are a few common practices that will immediately place you on the ignore/delete/report-as-spam list. At a minimum, they’ll give people a negative impression of your brand or be completely ignored. Before we go into the best practices for building your email list, here are a few tactics you should never employ:
- Don’t buy or rent an email list, ever. We know it’s tempting. We know the list companies have told you that people ‘opted in’ to their list and it has been scrubbed. But those people didn’t opt into YOUR list, they didn’t ask to receive anything from you, and they may not even know your company name. At worst, this could get you blacklisted, unable to deliver email from your server at all. At best, it will be ignored by the people you’re trying to reach.
- Don’t bait and switch. If you tell people you’re going to send them discounts via email, but then start sending them a weekly newsletter of things going on in your company, or you tell them you’re going to send a monthly listing of valuable information about their industry, but then you allow your partners to send them unsolicited promotions for their own companies, it will be seen negatively.
- Don’t disregard the schedule. A weekly email should be delivered weekly, a monthly newsletter on a monthly basis. If you set the timeframe for when you’re going to deliver information, people will expect to see it on that schedule. It doesn’t have to be the same day of the week or month, but it should be consistent.
- Don’t auto-collect business cards. If people drop a card for your business with the expectation that they’ll receive email from you, that’s fine. But don’t visit the other booths at a trade show, for example, picking up business cards to add to your list.
How To Ask For Email Addresses So People Will Respond
Now that we’ve touched on what not to do, there are a few tactics that are far more likely to result in a positive response than others. Simply placing a ‘join our list’ form on your website is not going to build up your email database. Sure, it will bring in some people who REALLY want to hear from you, but most of your website visitors will overlook it. So how do you ask in a way that will get results? Here are a few tried and true best practices.
- Give people plenty of digital opportunities to connect with you. Include a simple signup form on every page of your website. Include a link in your (and every employee’s) email signature. Place a button or request on every social media channel your organization manages. You can even include a link to your email registration in the description of your YouTube videos. Anywhere that prospective clients interact with you is a potential opportunity for them to request to receive ongoing communications.
- Ask for it! When customers come into your physical location, visit your booth at a trade show or conference, attend a presentation you’re giving, or call your office, you have an opportunity to ask if they would like to receive updates from you in the future, via your email outreach.
- Offer them high-value content. One of the best ways to get prospects to sign up for ongoing communication is to offer them something so valuable and worthwhile that they have a reason to give you their email in return. A downloadable ebook, exclusive access to a video or webinar that will be helpful to them, a checklist that will make their tasks easier, etc. are all great ways to give something of value that is worthy of ‘payment’ by email address. This has the added benefit of immediately showing your prospects that not only are you going to send them high-quality communications in the future (so they’ll be more likely to OPEN those emails), but that you are also an expert in your field and willing to give something for free that you could have charged for.
Now that you have some great ways to collect those email addresses, learn how to use this contact information to learn more about what your prospective customers are doing on your website and what information they’re interested in, as well as how you can find new prospects that have similar characteristics, who you can reach out to via targeted advertising.