April 22, 2012
The Federal CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 requires permission to email be explicitly given to the email sender by the subscriber. Bluegrass Integrated Communications does not sell email lists.* However, in this article you’ll find some ways to build your own.
Creating a good permission-based email list is a little like building a good friendship. It takes a while to build, but build it you can! Once you build your list, we can help you stay on track with your Email Newsletter Program.
- If you have a current customer list, start there. Send a postcard to your customers, asking them to signup for emails with your organization. Offer them special “Email Only” discounts and incentives. (Which would be easier? To acquire email addresses from customers who have done business with you in the past, or to get email addresses from total strangers?)
- Purchase a mailing list with similar demographics to your current customers. Mail a postcard to them, inviting them to signup for emails on your website and to come into your store for a special promotion. Let them know they will receive special “Email Only” discounts and incentives in your emails.
- Keep an “Email Signup Sheet” in the store or office where customers do business with you (cash register, appointment desk, etc.). Train your staff to ask customers to signup, and give your employees special incentives for inviting customers to build your permission-based email list.
- If you have a website, create an email signup page, either on your home page or have a link on your home page to a dedicated signup page.
- Place a computer monitor in a trafficked area in your store or office (same principle as #2 above, but higher tech) so subscribers can signup for email on the spot. (Let their fingers to the typing so there’s no data entry required on your part.)
- Include your email signup web address on every mail piece you send out: newsletters, flyers, etc.
- Include your email signup web address in every promotion – newspaper ads, billboards, radio, etc.
- Once you start sending emails to your new list, include a “Forward to a Friend” link in every email.
- If you have an old permission-based list of email addresses, implement a special “Opt-In” email campaign. Keep in mind that each year 30-35% of the population changes email addresses, so an old list may be loaded with dead addresses. But, if the list isn’t more than 3-4 years old, talk to us. We can help you estimate the benefits/disadvantages of doing a special “Opt-In” campaign with that list.
- Put your email signup web address on your business card and hand them out everywhere you go.
- Use the back of your business card as a signup form (speak with us about the required wording). Give people two business cards. Ask people to fill-in the information on the back of one and give it back to you while you wait.
- Social, civic, religious and/or service clubs are often looking for program ideas. If your organization could be of interest to some of them, get your story in front of as many as you can. Take email signup sheets with you.
- Become a sponsor or supporter of local organizations. Get your business cards (see #10) into as many hands as you can, specifically inviting people to signup for your emails. Be sure to give them some kind of incentive to do so.
*We strongly recommend not purchasing so-called permission-based email lists from third parties. No such list is available from a third party. Permission to email must be explicitly given to your organization by your email subscribers themselves – either verbally, written or collected online.
Only collect the information you absolutely need. Requiring too much information can keep them from completing the signup process. Keep it simple. Make sure to adhere to email signup best practices. This signup data can even be automatically populated to the very list you plan to send from, or you can give them the ability to choose from several different lists, depending on the kind of subject matter subscribers want to receive from you.
When permission is verbal, make note of the date and time, and make any other pertinent notes that may be helpful to substantiate that permission. Make note of the person to who you spoke, in the event that the address is shared with someone else.
The fact that someone gives you a business card on which an email address appears does NOT constitute permission. Ask them for permission to add them to your organizations email list. Make a note on the back of the card that permission was given.
If permission is written, keep all records. Do not throw them away.