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>> Home > Internet Marketing > Email Marketing

You're Crazy To Market Without A Mailing List

By Philip Lim
Posted Sunday, November 21, 2004

The whole reason email marketing is done: to drive clients to your web site, where you can sell your products and services to them. But in order to bring them to your site, you need to have addresses to mail those exciting messages to.

You can always buy or rent email lists, but this isn’t always the best strategy. It’s expensive, and there’s no guarantee that the company you choose got their addresses legitimately. Opt-in email lists (people who ask you to send them information) are always a better method for marketing purposes, and you have a guaranteed target audience.

Increasing your opt-in list of targeted email clients is the most important email marketing strategy you can use. Your email list is actually a group of potential "sales leads" and you should treat expanding your email list in the same manner you would your leads offline: develop it, and develop it aggressively.

The more effort you put into developing it, the more potential customers you will have. Conversely, if you fail to collect email addresses, your online business growth will halt. It’s that simple.

Tip #1: Offer Them Content

People don’t just like to give out their email addresses online (and with good reason nowadays!) But if you offer them something in return, such as an informative newsletter, a free ebook, or free software, they will be much more likely to give you their email address when subscribing.

Offering subscriptions, whether to a newsletter, ezine, ebook, software, or online course, is the number one legitimate method of increasing your email list (and is used by all of the largest and most successful sites online). People have indicated that they go online for a major, basic reason: to learn. Are you meeting this need? You will be, if you offer them high-quality information through one of the above methods.

Don’t just send them ads (unless they have specifically requested news on current specials); spice it up with information that they can use. They will remember you, will pass your newsletters around to their friends, and your name and company will get known.

Tip #2: Make It Easy For Them

It’s amazing the number of sites that have subscription forms tucked away deep within their site hierarchy, or don’t even have interactive subscription forms for signing up. Don’t just rely on the customer taking the initiative of sending you an email asking to subscribe to your content; have a web designer create an easy-to-use form that they can fill in and subscribe to.

Place your subscription box in a prominent area. Normally, the left top side of a web site is the area that a visitor looks at first. This is a natural area to place a small box that says, "Subscribe to our informative newsletter" or "download our free software" to increase your email list. Alternatively, you could create a pop-under that appears before they leave, asking if they would like to subscribe to your quality content. Don’t let them leave your site without offering them the chance, with an attractive ad, to sign up - and give you their email address.

Be sure to have a link on each and every web page on your site, offering visitors the chance to subscribe. Otherwise, they may go to your site, click around, and by page four, forget that they meant to sign up for your newsletter or ebook. Remind them frequently with a tasteful link or box on each page, and watch your subscriptions rise.

Tip #3: Assure Their Privacy

When a person visits a web site online, they often hesitate to give out their email address. Since they don’t know you, they often fear the worst: that you could be an unscrupulous email harvester, who will turn around and sell their information to sleazy porn sites or lending companies charging high interest rates.

Of course, you don’t do this, and one way to overcome this natural hesitation is to place a prominent privacy notice near your subscription form that states: "Your privacy is important to us. We will never sell or disclose the information that you provide us with." You have just overcome the number one reason that people don’t give out their email address, and increased greatly the chances that your opt-in list will grow.

Tip #4: Don’t Use Force, and Don’t Ask for Too Much Information

Nowadays, some sites have become quite aggressive in their techniques for getting email addresses, to the point that they won’t allow you to enter their site without giving it. Most people will click away from sites that use techniques that don’t offer choices. Instead, make subscription their choice, and never, ever force the issue.

When asking for subscriptions, don’t ask them their age, phone number, and other demographic information, or you will frighten them away. Your subscription box is not meant to be marketing research and shouldn’t be used this way. At this point, you are creating an initial contact with potential clients. Simply ask for their email address, and nothing more, and you’ll see more subscribers.

Down the road, when they know you better, you can always send out surveys to find out more.

Tip #5: Give Them a Gift

Ever since we were small children, opening Christmas presents underneath the tree, we have all found free gifts irresistible. You can offer your site visitors extra incentive for subscribing to your newsletter or email communications: let them know that they will get a free gift when they sign up.

This free gift could be a white paper, a free ebook, or software that they can use. Or, you can give them access to information areas on your web site, that they couldn’t get to otherwise, when they sign up and register.

If you use this technique, you should see response rates to your subscription requests go up tremendously. Don’t know how to write an ebook? This isn’t a problem. There are plenty of sites that offer free content, reports, and ebooks that you can download, and offer to site visitors (example: just try typing in "free content" into Google, and you will be deluged with links from sites begging you to give away their content).

Tip #6: Ask Them to ‘Pass It Along’ (Viral Emailing)

In the lingo of online marketing, ‘Viral emarketing’ doesn’t describe teenaged hackers bent over their computer screens, sending viruses to unsuspecting recipients. Instead, it’s a highly accepted and used method of increasing email lists. Basically, you are asking those who receive your newsletter to share it with their friends who might enjoy reading the great information in it. Chances are, if they like it enough, they will click on the "subscribe" link (you do have one, don’t you, at the bottom of your newsletters and/or ezines?), and you will have a new address for your list.

If you really want to get the information passed along, offer your readers a good incentive for sharing it with others. Some sites offer product discounts, a free ebook, or points for sharing it with others. The Internet is all about sharing information, and we love to let others know about good places to learn at.

Tip #7: Give Them More Choices

People have different needs when going online, and if you design your site and subscriptions to meet those needs, your response rates will climb. Offer your site visitors different options: some may want to subscribe to a newsletter, others may want to read your white paper, while yet others only want to hear about special product updates. Create your subscription box to offer different choices, then deliver them what they asked for.

This is called ‘market segmentation’: you are meeting the needs of different sectors of your market, and is good, sound sales practice that will cause your email list to expand.

Tip #8: Develop a Relationship With Your Clients

Who would you rather interact with and trust, someone you have never heard of, or someone you have had a positive experience with before? This same principle is doubly true online. You should be emailing all of your current customers in response to their questions, to confirm product orders, and other business communications in a polite, friendly manner. They will be more likely to sign up, subscribe, and ask for product updates if they’ve heard from you before, and if you are professional in all of your communications.

If your firm is active offline, be sure to give you customers cards with your web address and email address printed on them, and ask if they would like to be added to your email list for product updates. Chances are good that they will say "yes" and you will have a quickly growing email list.

By following the above tips and advice, you should see your email list growing, with highly targeted customers who want to hear from you.

About the Author
Philip Lim is the editor of which is dedicated to teaching newbies or beginner marketers to internet marketing the ropes. Enroll into our free 10 days intensive email course: "Strategies for Internet Marketing Success". (


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