In my day job I receive lots of offers to buy lists of email addresses. “Do people really fall for this stuff?” I think to myself. Buying email lists is so … 1997. But email marketing is still extremely effective when done the right way: permission-based, educational, helpful, and entertaining.
Why It’s Important to Grow a List Organically
Nobody likes getting email from people they’ve never heard of, so buying a list or importing the addresses of people cc’d on an email you received is a huge no-no. You’ll annoy far more people than you delight, and you’d be violating CAN-SPAM laws, which can carry a hefty fine.
Another downside to spamming is low deliverability rates and a black eye on your IP reputation. This means that even legit emails you try sending in the future will have a hard time getting where you want them to go. Convinced that buying email lists is always a bad idea? Great, let’s move on!
Generate More Traffic to Your Website
Growing a list organically takes time, but the more traffic you get to your site, the faster it will happen. If you’re not blogging regularly, you must start now. A blog worth reading is educational, helps your prospects solve problems, and offers them a reason to tell their friends about it and subscribe to your mailing list. When you create really great content, people are annoyed if they don’t hear from you.
Most camp owners get stuck on what to blog about, but if you think of it in simple terms — helping parents by answering the questions swimming around in their heads — you’ll be swimming in topic ideas. Take the most common questions you get from past, current and prospective families, and just …. answer them. It really is that easy.
Once you have a parent’s permission to be on your list, you can start sending them new blog content, announcements about upcoming camp details, referral incentives, and everything in between.
Make Subscribing Easy
An email address is the new currency of the internet. Think about that for a minute (or look at “why it’s important to grow a list organically”).
Filling out a subscription form may be the first way a parent ever reaches out to you — like a handshake, but they aren’t totally sure they want to know you yet. If they click on a “subscribe to our newsletter” button and are asked for their full name, address, phone number, child’s age, AND email address, they’re probably going to be turned off. Now they have no idea what you’re going to send; all they wanted was your email newsletter.
So keep it simple and ask only for an email address. The ultimate goal is that you’ll wow them so much with educational content (blog posts, videos, research, case studies, etc.) that they’ll convert to registered families in your programs, at which time you’ll get full contact details.
The circle of lovable email nurturing starts with just an email address — it saves money on spammy direct mail and makes prospective families trust you from the start.
Use Technology Wisely
I’ve read a lot about “exit intent” tools that, when in the right hands, can yield very good list-building results. Without getting too into the weeds, here are two I like:
- OptinMonster is a WordPress plugin that tracks a site visitor’s curser. When they start heading for the menu bar (exit intent), they get a pop-up with your customized message asking them if they’d like to subscribe to your newsletter. I don’t usually recommend pop-ups for any reason, but they have such flexible configuration that it’s worth considering.
- HubSpot is an all-in-one marketing platform, and they wrote this post on how to use slide-in subscription boxes and other CTAs at about the time readers start getting bored with a blog article. Again, this is configurable and something to be used with caution, but worth looking at if you want to grow a list of blog subscribers.
So what do you think? Email me if you’d like to brainstorm or have any questions — I love talking about this stuff!