As we’ve often said, list building is the cornerstone of any emarketing campaign. That may sound obvious (after all, if you don’t have a list of addresses, what’s the point?), but it can often be overlooked. Many companies will resort to buying in lists, at great expense, or simply importing a list of existing customers’ email addresses. If left to its own devices, your email list will offer little return. Like anything, you have to work at it to get the most from it.

Today, we’ll focus on the sign up sheet. This can be either paper-based or digital, but the principals for making it work are the same.
Considering the paper-based variant, if your business features a physical shop customers can visit, encourage sign ups in store. If they get to the point of purchasing something, they’re likely to be engaged. It’s often at that point many retailers will offer store cards and a percentage discount in return, but why not instead encourage them to sign up to your email newsletter, and offer the same percentage discount for doing so? If they’re enthusiastic enough to part with their hard-earned cash, they’re likely to take up the offer.
For your website, location is everything. The sign up form needs to be instantly obvious; don’t hide it three pages deep. Stick to as few fields as possible – at this stage you simply want their name and email address – additional information can be garnered later, whilst they develop advocacy with your company.
In fact, the length of the sign up form in any domain is crucial. If it’s too long, you’ll put them off. It doesn’t need to be particularly pretty, either. In fact, the more bland and functional the form, whether you’re handing it to them in person, or they’re clicking on it with a mouse pointer, the better. It’s a simple tool and one who’s primary function is to collect email addresses – don’t get too carried away!
If someone has been enthusiastic enough to sign up, return the enthusiasm by making your emails as engaging as possible. Build in a hook which encourages people to keep reading. Use your knowledge of your industry to become an expert to them – doing so means they’ll eventually start coming to you.
Lastly, always include an incentive. We touched on that briefly above, but it doesn’t always have to be monetary or discount-related. A great tactic is to offer glimpses of what people can expect. At the top of your sign up sheet, for example, why not tease them with promises of forthcoming information on product savings and new offers? They’ll more than likely be intrigued enough to sign up.

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Mark is one of mailingmanager's email experts. His contributions to this blog openly share the tricks, tips and best practices he's learned while running multiple e-marketing campaigns.

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