How to Get Email Addresses for Email Marketing

Email is an incredible marketing tool. With its widespread reach and viral potential, it allows your business to connect with prospects in ways that no other marketing medium can.

But without a list of subscribers with valid email addresses to send messages to, it’s hard to justify using email as a means of marketing your business.

Fortunately, there are lots of easy ways to collect email addresses so that you reap the benefits of an email marketing campaign. Here are some of the basics.

Simply Ask!

When existing and prospective customers buy something at your store, have staff members verbally ask if they’d like to sign up for your newsletter as part of the check out process. Keep a sign up sheet close to the register, so that browsers can sign up even if they don’t purchase anything.

When you speak with clients on the phone, tell them that your newsletter is full of great information. Sell your content; it’s the one thing that you are most knowledgeable about and it will show when you’re talking it up.

It only takes a few seconds to jot down an email address. If you make “the big ask” five times a day for one work week, that’s 25 email addresses you didn’t have before you started, and 100 email addresses in just one month!

Put a Form On Your Website

If you’re in a situation where you can’t take email addresses verbally, always direct people to your website. It’s imperative that you have a form on every page so that anyone who happens to land there is able to sign up quickly and painlessly for your emails.

The sign up process should be blatantly obvious and provide all of the necessary background information about your email campaign.

Web form templates give your form a professional, polished look that compliments your website design.

You should also seriously consider using a popup form to collect addresses. While they’re not for everyone, popups and popovers have really come a long way from what they once were.

You now have a lot of control over their frequency and appearance, and you can even split test different types of popups to see what works best for you.

Send Postcards Via Snail Mail

Michelle Kemp, a fan of AWeber on Facebook, swears by sending postcards to prospects by mail:

Michelle Kemp Get your offline clients email addresses by mailing them a postcard with a free offer. Give them a website to go to and when they opt-in, give them your free content/giveaway that you promised. This works like a charm!
April 13 at 12:45pm

If you have their postal address, sending a client a personalized, handwritten note or postcard with a return address shows that you market transparently. It also puts a human touch on the otherwise technical task of collecting email addresses online.

Offer Freebies

Nothing is more attractive to a potential customer than a free product or a glance at a service that they don’t have yet.

No matter what your newsletter is about, you are an expert in your field. Write up a quick guide to your industry, offer a free sample of hot sauce or hair product or send an exclusive MP3 download of your latest song that is only available to your email list.

As long as your free gift is relevant to the content of your newsletter, it’s the perfect incentive for prospects who might be on the fence about signing up.

Link to a Form in Your Signature

How many people do you contact personally via email every day? These contacts might not be on your business email list yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t suggest that they sign up to receive your email newsletter.

Simply include a link to your hosted web form in your email signature, and your prospects can sign up to receive your emails without even closing your personal message.

Advertise On Everything You Print

Traditional print media can be costly. With the state of today’s economy, you should think twice before investing company dollars in print advertisement.

In a 2009 study, researchers from IBM and MIT found that the average email contact was “worth” $948 in revenue. With such minimal costs in comparison to print, and such high return on investment, email is the logical and result driven choice for modern marketing.

That being said, take advantage of the fact that essential printed materials make their way out of your office or store and back to the homes of potential subscribers.

Whether it’s your business card, a brown paper bag or a receipt, a physical reminder of your website could be the push someone needs to visit your site and fill our your web form.

Utilize Social Media

Your personal network is just as important as your work Rolodex when you’re growing your email list.

Put a form on your Facebook fan page so that anyone visiting your page on the social networking site can easily subscribe to receive email updates.

Ask Twitter followers to sign up for your newsletter by tweeting a link to your hosted web form.

If you automatically tweet your broadcast messages, we add an email signup form to the sidebar of your archive, so that if someone stumbles upon your email they can easily sign up to receive more.

What Are Your List Building Tactics?

Does one particular method help you attract new subscribers? Is there something that doesn’t work very well for your industry?

We can all learn from the experiences of others – please share yours below!

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39 Comments

  1. What an amazing blog. The simplicity of some of these things is what makes us overlook them. Really good practical stuff. I heard that you can’t use an optin form in an adsense site or you may risk google banning your website, is that true?

    6/24/2010 1:22 pm
  2. Many great small tips. Putting your email or facebook fan page on your receipt, and asking for your customers contacts –are "golden ideas’.

    i did not understand if you auto-tweet — how is there room in the tweet for an email sign-up form?

    I saw you added posting to twitter/facebook when you send an email. But I don’t want to send them the same data — that I send with my other broadcast methods.

    IE ping.fm — hootsuite — etc.

    Can you tell us how your new features would compliment other services?

    6/24/2010 1:28 pm
  3. Eric

    "It only takes a few seconds to jot down an email address."

    How do you do this and get the signup confirmed in some sort of official way (clicking on a link)?

    6/24/2010 1:50 pm
  4. Cat

    Great article. I use several of these techniques and they all are working.

    I have had a big spike in my opt-ins since April and I am having so much fun. I went from getting less than 10 opt-ins a month to 20 a week. I have a growing business as a change in my target market shrunk my list quite a bit.

    I was scared in the early days of getting more laser focused on a small group of potential clients. Now, after several months, I am seeing some real results.

    What changed in April? I created a single option opt in page for my first contact with clients. Before, my opt in box was in the top right hand corner of my banner. That one is still there and does attract some attention.

    When I put my new page up focused on my defined target audience, some real magic started to happen.

    Good luck to all of you list builders out there!

    6/24/2010 2:19 pm
  5. Hello from Montana,

    I like to ask for business cards at networking sessions. I then say, "Do I have your permission to connect with you online?" Almost everyone says yes.

    I then write the function on the back of the card in case they do not remember giving me permission.

    6/24/2010 2:54 pm
  6. If I get someone’s verbal request to be put on my email list (for my WordPress blog), can I enter their name and email into my subscription box on my site? Is that legit?

    6/24/2010 6:48 pm
  7. It is imperative, though, that whenever somebody signs up for your email newsletter that you keep a record of how and when they signed up.
    If you don’t have a record of when the sign-up was completed, then you may have legal issues with using that data.

    6/25/2010 4:44 am
  8. Judy,

    It’s a great opportunity to ask for permission at networking events, but what you’re asking isn’t setting the right expectations for people. "Do I have your permission to connect with you online?" doesn’t tell me in any way that you’re going to put them on a mailing list. This could lead to confusion and upset recipients of your emails.

    I’d try to be a bit more explicit about setting expectations for how, why, and when you’re going to connect with them.

    6/25/2010 8:58 am | Follow me on Twitter
  9. Gary

    One thing that should be mentioned is how NOT to get email addresses: A lot of companies are selling email lists — claiming that they are 100% opt -in.

    If you purchase names and add them to your list, you’ll get SPAM complaints and ISPs will start sending your email to the bulk/spam folder or even block it entirely.

    6/25/2010 2:36 pm
  10. Gary,

    Absolutely true. Great point. We talk about this in a couple places:

    The Ugly Truth About Buying Email Lists

    Can I Use This List?

    6/25/2010 3:11 pm | Follow me on Twitter
  11. Permission is the cornerstone of email marketing. Never assume you have it and always ask for it. Take yourself outside of your business for a second and ask yourself how you would feel if the methods you use were used on you.

    Once you have the permission, make sure that you set the expectations upfront with those that gave it.

    6/26/2010 11:33 pm
  12. Judy, here’s what I do at speaking engagements.

    I always give away door prizes. Before the break, I show them the prizes and pass a hat around the room. If they want to be eligible for the prizes, they drop their business card into the hat.

    If they ALSO want me to subscribe them to my weekly eZine of publicity tips, I ask them to write "TIPS" in big letters on the back of the card.

    Tell them, however, to make sure their correct email address is on their business card.

    When I get back to the office, I manually add them to my AWeber list, and AWeber sends them the confirmation link.

    6/27/2010 8:48 am
  13. This stuff is really basic, I love the offline ideas though. It really depends on what niche your in I guess.

    7/3/2010 3:06 pm
  14. Hey Rebecca great post.

    I really appreciate all your tips on email marketing, its something that I havent done that much of but am curious to give it a go.
    I have started building a list but am only in the early days.
    All the comments above will be really useful. Thank you.

    7/8/2010 1:01 am
  15. Vee

    I am especially glad that you mentioned the "freebie" part. As a business owner, it is hard spending time and money giving anything away for free, but its part of customer service and vital to email marketing. It gets people interested in the product or service that a person or company has to offer. It also makes people feel less like they are receiving a sales pitch if they have received something for free. People also love to pass around free stuff on the Internet and therefore, people end up spreading the word for you.

    7/11/2010 8:50 pm
  16. Great outline. I never thought of using snail mail as a way to get more opt-ins. Social media will definitely be huge for 2010. Thank you for the post.

    7/12/2010 8:42 am
  17. This is a really simple to understand blog.

    7/23/2010 3:30 am
  18. Thanks Rebecca for such a wonderful blog. Really great basic information about email marketing. I am thinking of adopting some of the methods mentioned here.

    11/5/2010 11:52 am
  19. Thank god you don’t ask about email ripper and spamming. Good.

    11/17/2010 2:41 am
  20. Fox

    What can you do with all the grade A positive comments that one receives that include the commenters email address & website. Can those be used or uploaded with Aweber ? I have been answering those worthy of a reply, but now it’s getting hard to keep up. I’m getting 60-70 comments a day outside of the spam a good 30 I include into my shabby list building efforts… Thanks

    12/20/2010 1:14 am
  21. Great post.
    I want to know one thing : How can I add the email ids of current subscribers to my services which are on google groups?
    I want to include them in my AWeber list,so that I can send them updates. I don’t want to manage two separate lists – one on AWeber and the other on Google Groups.

    1/28/2011 2:48 am
  22. I second that. This is a great post. I’d forgotten about the regular mail!

    Tony S.

    4/13/2011 3:38 pm
  23. I must admire you effort for providing such a useful information . It is really very valuable as it cover every thing the reader wants.

    4/14/2011 7:19 pm
  24. Thanks Aweber for posts like this!

    We were looking for some suggestions about list building but when we googled it we didn’t find anything useful.

    This article is exactly what we needed! Thanks so much.

    4/30/2011 2:05 pm
  25. T

    Thanks for the information. Yes I also want to add for success in affiliate marketing one should have to build an email list so to interact with the potential customers. Aweber is a great software for email marketing and I am saying it because I personally using it an I have amazing results.

    10/23/2011 8:30 am
  26. Kasim

    You’ve heard of “web presence”. But what about a “personal presence”? The web presence gives the visitors details about your business and what those visitors can expect in terms of products and services.

    A personal presence is where you are at the other end of those emails you’re harvesting. You simply collect their email addresses then flog them offers. Some marketers have the audacity of personalising it giving the impression that you’d like to meet them or at least correspond with them.

    If you’re gonna personalise an email, at least give them an opportunity to respond and be sure to reply to their response. Some companies, like GVO, have the CEO greeting you personally. But then your response goes to their support service and Joel doesn’t even read your email.

    The only marketer I know who personally responds to emails is Danny Inny of Firepole Marketing. As he found out, it can open him to harsh emails but that goes with the business.

    So what’s it gonna? A web presence or a personal presence?

    6/28/2012 8:33 am
  27. L

    It is imperative, though, that whenever somebody signs up for your email newsletter that you keep a record of how and when they signed up.
    If you don’t have a record of when the sign-up was completed, then you may have legal issues with using that data.

    7/21/2012 6:20 am
  28. I am newbie in this field and do not know even ABC of Email marketing. I am subscribing to your newsletters and reading your articles hopefully I will be beneficial also.

    9/21/2012 9:18 am
  29. Good tips about email marketing, you could also consider the methods like taking surveys and poll options for getting visitor Email ID’s.

    12/15/2012 12:14 am
  30. ET

    I agree about usage of social media for list building. Social media has gained so much popularity that it has become unavoidable when it comes to any sort of marketing. You have mentioned some good ideas to build list, I hope you will also like to share some information regarding effectively utilizing that list for Email marketing.

    12/27/2012 3:20 pm
  31. Petr

    I use this tool… quite good… http://www.nevirta.com

    4/21/2013 9:10 am
  32. We use email marketing all the time, asking works best for us in the insurance industry!

    10/6/2013 5:20 am
  33. What an article! I have surely learnt something about getting email lists. I am going to start building mine today. Thanks a lot!

    12/12/2013 3:00 am
  34. GB

    This things is really primary, I really like the off-line concepts though. It really relies on what market your in I think.

    1/15/2014 2:18 am
  35. these tips are good.. but i want a method that gives me lots of email addresses daily. Can anyone suggest me that method?

    2/23/2014 3:35 pm
  36. Tina

    Try a list rental if you are short on your organic list. If it is a reputable company they will have all of the spam laws, help you approach your market correctly and help you decide exactly who that market is. Plus it’s cheaper than purchasing. We used hoovers.com and frescodata.com. Both turned a good profit for us.

    3/20/2014 2:50 pm
  37. I must confess this tips you shared was innovative and helpful, I must comment you web admin for the info you gave was straight forward, not like others who offers an email site extractor, but your ideals is unique,and the best, when you get people name trough request and they see’s a message from you, there would honor it in expectation, but when you crawl to get mail, It is mostly moved to spam,because of its irrelevance. Thanks once again for the info.

    6/17/2014 4:57 pm

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