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Don’t Build Your Email Marketing List by Randomly Adding People

This blog post is a bit of a rant, because people I’ve never heard have been inundating me with marketing emails. You cannot build your email marketing list by randomly adding people! Ever!


Don’t build your email marketing list by randomly adding people


First, you’ll piss people off. Like me. And then I’ll write about it.


Second, it’s (most likely) against the law. Remember a little thing called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)? This European data privacy act went into effect in May 2018, and companies around the world who do (or might do) business in Europe adopted it. GDPR is very strict about email opt in – it is an individual’s right to subscribe, not a company’s right to subscribe people.


Third, you’ll dilute your email marketing effectiveness. Email marketing is all about quality over quantity (just like social media marketing). It’s far better to have a smaller, engaged audience that opens, reads and appreciates your emails than a huge list of people, the majority of whom never open a single email.


Fourth, randomly emailing people will hurt your brand’s reputation. Once your reputation is damaged, it may never recover. 


Fifth, you could get labeled as a spammer. If enough people mark your emails as spam, you will get blacklisted and booted off MailChimp, Constant Contact or whatever email marketing platform you use. 


Sixth, if you attend a workshop, conference or networking event and you are told not to add the attendee list to your email marketing list, don’t! Do! It!


Don’t buy lists, either


Email lists are garbage. In fact, I don’t let any of my clients buy lists. With so many unqualified people on your list, your open rates, click rates and “this is spam” rates will skyrocket. 


How to grow your email marketing list the right way


Tell people why they’re getting your emails


If you’ve never sent out an email for marketing purposes, gather the emails of people you know AND who you think would find your emails valuable. This can be a small list – you have to start somewhere! 


Right at the very top of the email, write a short note – something like this:


Welcome to our newsletter! Every month, we’ll be sending you valuable tips and insights on all things content marketing. One month you might learn how to build an email list organically and the next, you might read about how to use blog tags and categories correctly. 


If you choose to unsubscribe, no hard feelings! Simply click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of the newsletter.


Make it easy to unsubscribe


I just got an email from our previous dentist, and there was no way to unsubscribe at the bottom of the email. I was not pleased. 


In the footer of your newsletter, add a note that says:


You are receiving this newsletter because you are a client, expressed interest in our services and/or subscribed yourself. You are free to unsubscribe at any time.


Add clients and “appointments”


As your business chugs along, take a moment every month to add new clients to your list. Yes, this is ethical. I don’t give new clients a heads up, and I have yet to get a complaint. 


A friend recently told me that she asks everyone she has a meeting with if they’d like to join her email list. You can do this in an intake form or add it to your Calendly invite. I love the idea, and I’ve adopted it.


Give something away that’s valuable 


If you give away valuable content or stuff, people will happily provide their email address. OK, maybe not happily, but they are used to doing it. 


Here are some common ways companies capture emails: 


Discount codes: This is a B2C tactic that is best used by retailers and restaurants. Think “Get 10% off your first order/purchase.”


Giveaways: When a new customer or client makes a purchase, throw in a bonus for free. It could be an add-on to a product, a free sample or an extra service.


Downloads: If you’re a B2B company, create some meat-y how-to guides that people can download from your website. 


Demos: Do you sell a web-based application? Offer free live demos. Even if someone signs up and then ghosts, you can stay in front of them via email.


Cash: I don’t know of anyone who would turn down cash. This tactic is best used in conjunction with an enter-to-win contest. 


How do you grow your list?


I’d love to hear how you ethically and organically grow your email marketing list. If you need help growing your list – or creating valuable marketing emails that get opened – we’d love to help. Contact us today to learn more. 


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