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Stop Begging and Start Giving: Why Perks Work to Build Your Email List

A photo of a hand breaking into a blue background to hand out a red gift box

Want to build your email list? Here’s how it used to be done, and how to do it today.

Years ago, sitting on the cashier’s counter of any local business, you’d find a clipboard with “Join Our Mailing List” scrawled across the top.

You filled in your name, mailing address and phone number in exchange for finding out about their special customer-only sales, or priority notification when high-demand merchandise arrived.

Those days are gone. Now, everyone wants to build an email list, not a snail mail one.

It makes sense: email is more cost effective, faster and easier to create than printed postcard or letters. But what kind of business should have an email list?

Why build your email list in the first place?

Almost every business can benefit from building an email list. At a minimum, it’s a good idea to have one list for current customers, and another for prospects. This allows you to send slightly different email marketing messages to each group.

Why is an email list powerful? Email is an efficient way to:

  • Establish your authority by sharing information about the service or product you offer
  • Create a communication link to your audience: a simple click to reply is all your prospect needs to do to send a question
  • Track interest by checking which kind of email messages get opened most frequently
  • Keep your business “top of mind,” so when your prospects are ready to buy, they think of your business first

Related: How to Build an Email List: The Fast and Slow Methods

Related: Email Marketing Best Practices: How to Connect, Deliver, and Profit in the Inbox

How NOT to ask for an email address

Have you ever met someone who’s worried they don’t receive enough email in their inbox? Me neither. Most of us are dealing with too many messages to sort through and act on.

Because of this, most people are reluctant to add their name to an email list unless they’re convinced the benefit will outweigh the bother of having to process more messages.

That’s why I cringe when I land on a website that says “Sign Up For My Email List” — and offers nothing in return. If you want to build a list, you’ve got to give people a compelling reason to hand over their email address.

Read on for how to do it right.

How to build your email list the right way

The most effective way to get an email address is to offer something in exchange for sharing it.

People won’t sign up for the sake of signing up: they’ll sign up to get something.

Your perk should be free, instantly accessible, and valuable.

Here are some perks you can offer in exchange for an email address:

  • An e-course delivered over several weeks via email autoresponder (timed, automated emails you set up once and let run as long as you’d like)
  • An offer to find out first about new merchandise or get a discount on upcoming offerings
  • An exclusive audio or video recording

My favorite perk of all? A short ebook.

There are so many solutions you can deliver in an ebook!

  • Answer a pressing question your prospects have
  • Create a buyer’s guide for your product or service
  • Write a resource guide, white paper or special report about what your business offers
  • Create a helpful quiz that guides your prospects through the decision-making process they need to go through in order to make a purchase
  • Build a content upgrade that expands the information in one of your most-popular pieces of content

But remember, people are busy — a 75-page ebook isn’t the way to go here! Focus on giving your reader a quick win. They’ll love you for it.

Related: 9 List-Building Gifts You Can Make This Month

Related: Profit from Your Online Brand [Free Roadmap]

Related: How to Profit from Your Email List with Content Upgrades

Stop begging, start giving to build your email list

Investing some time and effort into creating a “perk” for your prospective subscribers is a great use of your marketing efforts, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.

I know that putting this together may feel daunting. Need some inspiration? Read my article, That Exhilarating (and Terrifying) Feeling of Learning a New Skill.

Your brand-new perk with give site visitors a powerful reason to hand over a precious commodity — an invitation into their already crowded inbox.

If you’re building your email list and a high-value online offer, you can get personalized, in-depth help. Take the next step and apply for the Offer Accelerator.

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.


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