Email is still one of the most cost-effective ways to reach new prospects and build loyalty, but it’s not the digital Wild West it used to be. Since 2003 it’s been illegal in the United States for businesses to send unsolicited email to anyone who doesn’t have a prior relationship with the company (see the CAN-SPAM Compliance Guide for full details). More recently, new anti-spam legislation went into effect in Canada on July 1 of 2014.
While the effectiveness of anti-spam legislation is open to debate, the good news is the email practices these laws prohibit are the ones that don’t work well in the first place. The most successful email marketers build their lists using opt-in strategies like these, all of which are still legal throughout North America:
offer a free download
One of the easiest ways to encourage consumers to opt into your list is to offer something free. You may already be familiar with this technique if you signed up for this newsletter to get my free report 9 Ways to Get the Most Out of LinkedIn. Potential buyers are wise to this game, but that won’t matter if your download offers useful information they want or need without a blatant sales pitch. (I’ll talk about how to create a download that excites your prospects next month.)
provide information on request
The Internet has made it possible for buyers to do a lot more comparison shopping on their own. You can take advantage of this trend by providing a little bit of information about your products or services on your public website pages, while encouraging those who want more details to have more information sent to them by email. This is a great way to pre-qualify potential buyers while capturing their email addresses at the same time.
publish great sharable content
Whether you blog, send an email newsletter, post on social media or do other content marketing, publishing content that’s legitimately useful to your audience — again, without a direct sales pitch — increases the chances that they’ll share it with friends and colleagues. You probably won’t go viral, but even if you don’t, creating content that encourages sharing increases your chances to pick up new buyers you wouldn’t have found any other way.
Create a short survey that relates to your product or service, then call up people you’ve identified as good potential prospects and ask if they’d be willing to answer a few questions. If you establish a good rapport with the person on the other end of the line, you can close the conversation by thanking them and asking if they’d like to be on your email list. While you can simply use the survey as an icebreaker for requesting contact information, consider killing two birds with one stone by performing legitimate customer-oriented research in the process. This kind of “research” can easily pay for itself over time.
need help building or expanding your email list? call me.
Whole Brain Creative can help you grow your list or create great content to keep your subscribers engaged. Call or email us for a no-obligation consultation: 503.325.4485 or [email protected].