Are you making a list and checking it twice?

You should be, because list building is about quality more so than quantity. In fact, you should be thinking of  opt-outs as positives, not negatives. They keep you from annoying people (which helps you avoid or decrease detractors), and they raise your open rate.  (According to Lyrisopen rates are about 15 percent.)

Photo credit: tungphoto

Buying a list is usually a waste of time and money. Email addresses change so frequently nowadays that you’ll get a lot of bounce-backs (undeliverable messages), which may cause the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block you as a spammer. Besides, you want people who are interested in what you have to say. Opt-ins are there by choice. Recipients on a purchased email list might have zero interest in your products or services.

So how do you get people to sign up for your email-marketing list who WANT to hear from you? Consider these 10 ideas.

  1. If you have an ecommerce site, have a box at checkout that allows customers to subscribe to your newsletter or other promotions. (Some companies use the reverse tactic: you will be subscribed unless you check the box to unsubscribe.)
  2. Hold a contest. Even if the prizes aren’t worth much, people will enter if the contest seems fun or gives them notoriety (or discounts on future purchases).
  3. Offer promotional codes on popular coupon sites like and The only “catch” is that they need to sign up for your newsletter to use the discount code.
  4. Include a request to subscribe in all confirmation emails (e.g. after a customer makes a purchase).
  5. Swap blurbs (or short articles) with another company that uses newsletters.
  6. Use a direct link to your sign-up page in all your promotional material.
  7. Take sign-up sheets to business expos and other events (or have a bowl that people can drop their card into with the understanding that they’ll be added to your newsletter list).
  8. Write great content for free article sites around the Web and post a direct link to your subscription page for those who want more great content.
  9. Use social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to invite people to subscribe.
  10. Set up an automatic response to friend/connection requests that come in from LinkedIn or Facebook asking people to subscribe. Be sure to include a direct link to a landing page with an EASY sign-up form.

Most importantly, do some spring (and summer and fall and winter!) cleaning. Track your list members’ responses and tighten up your list every quarter. Who hasn’t opened one of your emails over the last three months? How many click-throughs are you seeing – and for what?  Send a re-engagement email to your most inactive subscribers. If they don’t respond, cut them loose.

The framework of your email list can be built on a foundation of four principles:

  1. Make it easy to subscribe.
  2. Provide great content (or discounts or new products).
  3. Make it easy to share content (with an easy way for the people they’re sharing with to subscribe).
  4. Make it easy to unsubscribe.

Need help building a solid email list? EasyChair Media can help create, use and monitor this important marketing tool.