How to Collect Contacts for Your E-Mail Marketing List - dummies

How to Collect Contacts for Your E-Mail Marketing List

By John Arnold

The quality of your e-mail marketing list depends greatly on where and how you collect the information. The best way to ensure that you collect quality information is to obtain information and permission directly from the person who owns the information in the first place — your prospects and customers.

Your challenge is to provide multiple opportunities and incentives for prospects and customers to share their information as well as to manage the resulting data effectively and efficiently. Some venues include

  • Online: Placing a sign-up link in every online presence possible is a great way to collect information with explicit permission. Types of sign-up requests include

    • Text boxes: Subscribers can enter information without clicking-through to a sign-up form.

    • Buttons: Clicking a graphic takes subscribers to a form to complete and submit.

    • Text links: Short, plain-text headlines link to a sign-up form.

    • Check boxes: Usually employed on multiuse forms to save additional steps, such as asking an online buyer, who already has to fill in his name and address, to check a box to be added to your e-mail list.

      Leave a check box deselected (cleared) so you don’t get disgruntled people who overlooked a checked box complaining that you’re sending spam.

    • Social applications: You can build your own e-mail address collection applications, or you can use handy plug-ins built by your EMP.

      This Web site contains a text box, a button, and a text link.
      This Web site contains a text box, a button, and a text link.
  • In person: A warm body or a verbal conversation can equate to a captive audience for communicating the benefits of joining your e-mail list, although you always need to ask for permission. Ways to connect and collect without being intrusive include:

    • Swap business cards. Ask whether that person’s preferred e-mail address is on the card.

    • Place a guest book on the counter in your store or office. Keep a guest book in your car as well.

    • Place a basket for business cards on your table at trade shows and events. Post a sign stating your intent to send e-mails.

    • Train your employees to take down customer information. Have everyone who answers the phone in your business ask for e-mail addresses and permission when customers and prospects call.

  • Through print: Adding sign-up information to direct mail and print advertising is a great way to help maximize your advertising dollars. You can use print to drive people to your website or store, you can ask them to fill out a paper form and return it, or you can ask them to send you an e-mail requesting to join the list. Offering a sign-up incentive to print ads and your business cards can be effective.

  • Through mobile devices: Building a quality list through mobile devices is challenging because you need to make sure that everyone on your list wants and appreciates your e-mails. Plus, you have to adhere to legal and professional permission standards. However, you can

    • Use your advertising to ask customers and prospects to text in their e-mail address. A short code — a four-to-six digit phone number — is best for this so that you don’t have to give out your mobile number or spend time rekeying the addresses.

    • Provide a form on your mobile website. List the domain name of your sign-up form in all your ads and keep the form short. Ask for just an e-mail address and a first name to save typing on those tiny keyboards. You can collect additional information later.

    • Capture addresses through mobile e-mail: Your advertising can ask people to send any e-mail to a special e-mail address that automatically responds by confirming a subscription.

    • Use an app: Some E-mail Marketing Providers have applications for your phone that let you add someone to your e-mail database when he’s standing right in front of you.

      Some mobile apps allow you to collect e-mail addresses in person. [Credit: Courtesy of ConstantCont
      Credit: Courtesy of
      Some mobile apps allow you to collect e-mail addresses in person.