Small business owners generally understand the importance and effectiveness of email marketing, but they don't always want to do the work to build an email marketing list. They want it to be easy. They would much rather buy a list of email contacts than build one.This. Is. Wrong.
Why would you want to buy a list of people who may or may not be interested in your unique product or service? They've never heard of you! Do you open random emails from companies you don't know? No. Usually you probably don't always open the emails from companies you DO know. Furthermore, you could be violating terms of service! Why risk it?
So, how DO you grow your email marketing list organically?
First, let's take a look at how you can you get people to give you their email address. It's actually pretty simple! It comes down to offering them something in return and making that offer clearly visible on your website, social media, etc.
Create landing page forms. The basic element you need is obviously a form for an email sign up. Email marketing software platforms, like Mail Chimp, allow you to create customized email sign up forms. You determine the verbiage you want to use and then Mail Chimp will create a code for you to embed the sign up form online.
Don't just ask for email sign ups, offer them something in return. If they sign up for your email, what will they receive? Tips? Discounts? Secret sales? Let them know right off the bat and make sure your incentive is compelling to your target market.
For example: "Sign up for my newsletter and receive social media marketing tips and tricks in your inbox weekly."
Content offers. You don't necessarily have to create a newsletter! Create something else of value, be it an ebook, a white paper, a discount code, a video, etc. Get creative with your content offers but make sure you don't offer up that content without asking for their email address first. Bonus Tip: It is important to keep these contacts in a separate list. Just as important as growing lists is segmenting lists.
Now that you have a landing page where you collect email addresses, where do you put it?
Your website. The most obvious place is your website. If people are visiting your website, don't just let them come once and then slip away forever. Offer them the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter or content offers by making this clearly visible on your website. You've seen this on almost every e-commerce website you've ever been to. Many sites even make you close the pop up box that asks for your email address before visiting the website.
Facebook. Use third party apps to host your email sign up landing page. Woobox is a very easy-to-use, free platform that allows you to create an app for email sign ups to be hosted on your Facebook page. (See below.)
Social media. Warning: don't get overly spammy with this, but you can also ask people to sign up for whatever it is you are offering on your social networks. You can lightly integrate asking for sign ups into your overall social media strategy. Personally, I think of asking for email sign ups/ promoting content offers as a bit on the 20% side of the 80-20 rule, (The rule in which 80% of what you post should be of value or entertainment and 20% of what you post should be promotional.)
Again, make sure you aren't just asking for sign ups without offering something they will receive in return. For example, you could promote your newsletter in a tweet like so: "Don't go searching for any more social media news, have it delivered to your inbox instead. Sign up here: www.link.com."