List-building: Keep your email opt-in simple

Email list building - join the cafeAn email list is one of the most essential tools for growing a small business.  The business email list is the first step in building a relationship with your audience.

Online marketing expert, Corbett Barr from The Sparkline says,

“If you aren’t building an email list, you’re missing out on the most powerful and consistent way to drive repeat visitors and customers to your website or blog. With an email list, you become less and less dependent on external sources of traffic, and gain more ability to interact with your blog’s audience.”

Here’s a real world example of how an email list can help a store front business.  Last week, I went to one of our family’s favorite local restaurants.  It was dead. We were the only table in the restaurant for most of the time we were there.  In this situation alone, if the owner had an active email list, he could have sent a personal invitation to his local following and turned around an otherwise slow night. When used strategically, an email list plays an integral part with the marketing plan and strengthens relationships with your clients.

In Six Ways to Grow Your Email List, we shared some of the strategies we use at myMarketing Cafe.  These strategies work and our business is proof.  One important factor we didn’t cover was the opt-in piece of your email list. Over the past month, our team has been doing research on how to effectively structure an email opt-in. We’ve looked at top influencers in the online marketing field to identify a structure that works.

What we found is that when it comes to building an email list, less is more.

When you ask fans and followers to join your email list, keep it simple. Here’s how I look at it. Have you ever been asked for your phone number by a cashier?  This happens quite a bit to me and I will tell you, I never give out my phone number. I don’t understand why they need it; I don’t know them or the business on a personal level.  The same applies to building an email list.

Ask for their name and email and that’s it.

We just changed our myMarketing Cafe signup this week, based on the results of the research we conducted.  Now, when you sign up to the cafe, we ask for your first name only and the email where you would like your updates sent. We offer members the opportunity to share their website and promise to share it in our online promotions, but that information isn’t required.  The reason we shifted to this structure is because that’s all the information we deserve, it’s up to us to earn your trust and build a relationship.

Tell them what they will receive and keep your promise.

When a visitor signs up for your blog or email list, tell them what is going to happen.  If you are offering a free download or other incentive, give it to them with no other strings. This time period fragile.  It’s important for you to establish trust and keep your word.

Now it’s your turn… Do you use an email list? What strategies have you used?

About Jo Lynn Deal

Jo Lynn Deal is the founder of myMarketing Café, a small business online resource center, entrepreneur community, and professional marketing blog. The café team is dedicated to helping small business owners reach their business goals and experience business growth. Cited as an outstanding business leader by The Business Journal, Jo Lynn uses her leadership experience to help corporations build partnerships and greater collaboration with their customers. She is an Integrated Marketing Communications strategist and a contributor to some of the industry’s largest publications including PR News, Social Media Today, and Project Eve.
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Word Ninja
Word Ninja

Jo Lynn, my blog on Wordpress has "followers." Is there a way to have only an email opt-in so that they receive blog updates but so I can also email them with other updates/news? I don't have an email list currently but would like to get it set up.

jolynndeal moderator

@Word Ninja I have "followers" too, and I'm one of your followers!  I have never looked into converting followers to email because there are only about five, but I am sure there is a way with WordPress.  It may just take some digging.  For my email list, I use mailchimp.  It can be added to a WordPress blog via a widget and there is a Facebook tab option too.  There is a free version to get started and then it can be as low as $10 monthly.  I discovered recently that WordPress has quite a few plugins that provide email opt-in.  I haven't looked into it but you could Google "the best WordPress email opt-in plugins."  A blog I follow uses Aweber but I don't know much about it.  The good thing about MailChimp is that you can download your list into excel if you ever want to switch services.

Word Ninja
Word Ninja

@jolynndeal Yes you are and thank you! I've heard good things about Mailchimp and checked plug-ins a while ago but need to revisit.