A fathers day card is open on a table

It’s June — Father’s Day month — so I’m thinking a lot about all the great advice Dad gave me. I quoted Dad the other day when a client announced his plan to market his business by buying an email list.

“Every shortcut has a price that is usually greater than the reward,” I said, echoing the old man.

When it comes to building an email list of prospects, short-cuts usually backfire. I emphasize “usually” because list-purchase can occasionally work — when done properly. But more often than not, it backfires.

Rather than dwell on how list-purchase is the wrong way to build a following, I thought again of Dad who said, “Don’t tell someone you think their idea is wrong and walk away. Offer a constructive alternative.”

So I shared with my client alternatives to list purchase — nine effective ways to grow your email subscriber list. Today, in honor of Dear Old Dad, I share these tips with you.

1) Put a “Join Our Email List” in prominent places on your website. Don’t bury the form where no one will see it. Display it prominently on the front page of your site and include it in the footer or sidebar on all other pages. The best marketing websites are designed to capture leads and build the email list.

2) Offer valuable content to incent prospective subscribers. Website visitors will gladly give you their email in exchange for helpful information — a how-to checklist, a whitepaper, an email course, access to password-protected videos or other content that they deem valuable.

3) Use social media to encourage prospects to opt-in. Post often to promote your free content and encourage your followers to subscribe. Social media is a great way to build a following and engage prospects. But email is best for driving sales. So convert those social followers into email subscribers.

4) Use “offline” advertising to drive subscriptions. Yes, the internet has changed the way we market. But direct mail, telemarketing, print advertising, radio and other offline marketing channels can work well, especially if you use them to build your email list. Include calls-to-action in your offline promotions that encourage people to go to a webpage where they can get free content or join the email list.

5) Just ask. When you speak to a lead on the phone, ask if you can add them to your email list. When you meet people at a networking event, ask. At point of sale in your retail establishment, ask. When standing before that crowd at the event you host, ask, “May I add you to my email list?” Then describe the benefits of subscribing. That’s it. Nearly everyone you ask will say, “Yes.”

Sure, these tasks may seem more difficult to execute than purchasing a list. But trust Dad on this one…the short-cut approach won’t work as well. Your email campaigns will be much more successful if you build a list of people who joined your list knowingly. They will expect your emails, and they will welcome them. This will already trust you because you have interacted with them — on your website, via social media or in person.

Also, don’t worry about the size of your email list. If you execute the tactics outlined here, you’ll quickly add hundreds — if not thousands to your list. And even an email list with just a few dozen subscribers can pay.

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