Best Practices for Email Marketing: Building a Better Subscriber List

email, subscriber listIn the ever-changing world of Internet marketing, it sometimes seems as if email is part Rodney Dangerfield and part Monty Python. You know, compared to newer, flashier platforms, it gets no respect but it’s not dead yet.

In fact, managed properly, email remains one of the most powerful tools in your marketing toolbox. According to the Direct Marketing Association, email marketing offers an average ROI of $28.50 for every $1 invested vs. $22.38 for display advertising, $19.71 for search and just $7 for direct mail.

At the simplest level, successful email marketing is predicated on sending emails that people want to receive but that’s actually putting the content cart before the target horse. After all, you can’t build a successful marketing campaign without having a quality subscriber list to pitch it to.

Building your list is more than a numbers game, write the folks at Act-On. It’s about attracting and enticing the right kinds of prospects who will eventually become first-time buyers and, hopefully, long-term loyal customers.

In the office

Your waiting room is a prime place to capture email addresses, whether it’s by including a space for the information on sign-in forms, by encouraging patients to register for special events or by having printed copies of your newsletter or other marketing materials available (with an included call to action to sign up for updates).

On your website

Your practice website is no place to be shy: If you want people to sign up for emails, newsletters, etc., suggest they do so by providing a clear “Subscribe to our newsletter” call to action and make sure it’s in a prominent spot on each page. If you produce longer-form content — whitepapers, eBooks, etc. — “gate it” by requiring prospects to provide an email address in order to receive it.

Via social media

Do your social media followers also subscribe to your email newsletter? (Many don’t.) Letting them know they may be missing out on valuable information, adding a call-to-action on a video or offering an incentive for opting in can entice followers to pursue a more personal relationship without coming across as overt advertising.

Third-party lists

Buying lists of email addresses can be a viable option — although a risky one as a bad list is both a waste of money and an invitation to getting blacklisted. The folks at Act-On provide a good checklist of what to look for; likewise, if you use an outside agency for your email marketing, they should be able to walk you through the pros and cons.

Ultimately, and regardless of the path(s) you choose, all of the above are predicated on a single premise: If you want people to subscribe to your emails, you have to provide them something they want, something that provides a sense of connection, something that helps them solve a problem or resolve a concern.

To do this, you must offer something of value, note the folks at Act-On in a whitepaper. Otherwise, why would someone sign up to receive your email messages, offers, and promotions? It’s fundamental that you understand your target customers — who they are, their issues and pain points, what motivates them, and what they hope you can deliver and/or solve for them — in order to effectively craft a value proposition that will resonate with them and encourage them to join your email list.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including, and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.

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