Personal Small Business Enterprise

Building a Newsletter, Part 1: How to Build an E-Mail List

When it comes to achieving business goals, 68% of marketers find that electronic newsletters are the top type of e-mail communications. However, having a captive audience to receive it is just as important as what you put in a newsletter.

In Part 1 of this three-part series, I’ll look at the critical first step businesses need to take to develop a successful business newsletter: building an e-mail list.

Here are some things to keep in mind to help build a solid list:

Ensure compliance with the law. First thing’s first: permission is not only essential, but it’s also the law. Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) comes into effect July 1 and requires that you gain consent from persons on an e-mail list, provide clear identification and contact information and a visible unsubscribe option.

There are two types of consent: express and Implied. The former means that the subscriber has opted-in to receive your newsletter, by signing up online, for example. The latter is assumed based on an existing business relationship – for example, the person bought something from you before. If you’re currently sending emails to people that have given you implied consent, it’s a good idea to send an email to them to attempt to get documented express consent to continue sending them emails past CASL’s July 1st deadline.

Make the sign-in form simple. With that in mind, work with your web developer to create a simple online sign-up form and position it prominently on your website’s homepage. Depending on the needs of your business, the form should request minimal information: name, e-mail, company, etc. And clearly describe what the newsletter will offer.

Include a measure of security. Watch out for those pesky web bots that can infiltrate your list. That’s why you have to enter a code before doing things like buying tickets online – to verify that you’re human. Requiring users to enter a code before signing up can help you maintain a valid list of contacts. Another option is to send an e-mail with a link that the person must click to finalize registration.

Calls-to-action. Chances are that you’re already collecting client information via sources that you can leverage to help build your email list by simply adding an opt-in button for the newsletter. For example, you may be collecting client information during an online checkout process, webinar or event signup.

Incentives & promotions. People love a level of exclusivity, gratitude and an opportunity to win. Consider adding a special deal or incentive that only newsletter subscribers can get, or running contests that involve referring colleagues or potential clients.

Welcome them. In a U.K. study, only 28% of companies reported sending e-mails in response to a signup. That number should be far higher, even if the response is an automated one. Just so the client knows they’ve been added, and gets a sense of recognition.

The bottom line
I receive a lot of newsletters, and there are a few things that drive me to sign up for – and remain with – certain ones: relevance, ease of sign up and the occasional incentive. Satisfy all of these, and it should be smooth sailing to get your mailing list started.

Once you’ve secured a healthy list of subscribers, it’s time to build content for the newsletter and measure the success of your campaigns. I’ll discuss these topics in the second and third parts of this series, respectively.

Have you considered a business newsletter? What key information would you like to get out to customers? Tell us in the comments below.

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