Jonathan Saipe

16 Ways to Build an Opt in Email Database

10 December 2008, Jonathan Saipe

How to Build an Opt-in Email DatabaseBuilding a well targeted and segmented opt-in database is the root of successful email marketing.

The question is what opportunities exist out there to gather subscriber data that will result is good quality click through rates (CTR) and hopefully conversions too?

Well, there are many ways to reliably gather opt-in data but many methods tend to be ignored either because they are too blindingly obvious to consider or because marketers don’t have these methods at their disposal.

Before we embark on our recommendations make sure you obtain permission from all potential subscribers. If youdon’t, your subscribers haven’t opted in and you are in breach of the law.

1. Add a website sign-up form
Add a sign-up form to your website, ideally with the subscriber data feeding straight into your database as this minimises data entry work and the potential for typos.

Ensure that there are calls-to-action across your site (on a run-of-site basis) that link to the sign-up form. Also ensure that you collect the right data from the outset in order to segment your email content and broadcasts appropriately.

2. Offer great content
Arguably the most important recommendation of all: offer great content and make it relevant to the segment to which you are broadcasting. You will conspicuously reduce your unsubscribe rate if the content is anticipated and relevant, so don’t blanket bomb!

3. Incentivise your potential subscribers
Incentivise potential subscribers to opt-in. Incentives can be anything from access to reports to product or service discounts. It really depends on your sector.

Avoid generic “spend and save” incentives; instead be more targeted to your subscribers’ needs. Some subscribers might be prospects, others might be clients or customers and others might be “explorers” only.

4. Be regular with your broadcasts
Get in the habit of regularly sending emails to your subscriber list even if the content is relatively short. An active list is much more likely to grow as interest spreads.

By the by, we actually recommend short amounts of content broadcast more regularly than longer emails sent infrequently.

5. Promote the benefits of subscribing
Promote the value of subscribing using customer testimonials, sample emails and of course strong calls-to-action on your website and sign-up page.

6. Be viral
Include a “send-to-a-friend” option in your emails. Bear in mind some email service providers wont be able to provide this functionality. Whilst you can’t collect your subscribers’ friends’ email addresses, you can provide links for those friends to opt in.

7. Use direct mail
Encourage email opt-in via your direct mail campaigns. Either provide a printed subscriber form in the direct mail or publish a link to subscribe online.

8. Use your email signatures
Here’s a simple one. Add a subscribe link to all of your employees’ email signatures. It could be prolific exposure for you if your company is large.

9. Capture data via your call centre or telesales staff
Brief your call centre or telesales staff to request opt-in data from customers or prospects.

10. Use postcards or flyers
Use simple incentivised postcards or flyers to capture data. If prospects receive these in the post, supply a freepost facility. Postcards or flyers can also be distributed at tradeshows, seminars or any other events.

11. Promote your mailing list on invoices or receipts
This can be especially useful if you are sending our large volumes of receipts or statements – be they electronic or print.

12. Harness point-of-sale opportunities
Display printed opt-in forms or flyers at the cash till of shops. There’s ample opportunity for incentivising customers with discounts, or buy X get Y free if you sign up.

13. Use syndicated press releases and articles
Promote the benefits of opting in to your email database in syndicated (online) press releases and articles.

14. Use company marketing collateral
Promote your online newsletters and subscriber benefits in printed newsletters, magazines and brochures. Include a web link to sign up as a subscriber.

15. Include opt-in information on customer satisfaction surveys
If you are regularly sending out online customer feedback surveys, include a hyperlink to your sign-up form. Satisfied customers may well want to hear back from you if they have already received great service.

16. Sponsor a competition
Encourage interest parties to sign-up by providing their email addresses and any other opt-in data.

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