Although it is receiving some stiff competition from social media and voice and text marketing, E-mail marketing still seems to be the method of choice for businesses to engage their customers these days. Place an opt-in form prominently on the front of your website, and watch the subscribers roll on in, right? Well, maybe.
Having an intriguing call to action, such as “sign up now to receive special offers”, is the first step to building a list. Just an FYI: 75% of people prefer to receive offers over any other form of call to action, according to data from It’s also important that you give them an idea of how often they will receive E-mails from you. Some E-mail marketing platforms (Ed. note: Lakeshore Branding recommends Mailchimp) will even ask the subscriber, letting them dictate how often they will receive E-mails.
Once you have your shortlist, you need to build and retain. Here are a few tips for accomplishing that.

Have a call to action

You need to tell your subscribers what action they need to take, and make it clear and simple for them. Internet users are getting smarter and savvier with the technology, so they have come to expect easy navigation through forms and Web pages. In your E-mails, always make sure to include an E-mail address, website, coupon code, or phone number to call.

Edit, and don’t forget it

Always make sure you read over your E-mails before sending them out. Nothing ruins credibility like a bunch of misspelled words and grammar issues that most people can spot. Do a test-send to yourself and at least one other person as well, just to make sure everything looks okay. Sending it to someone else will get some fresh eyes looking at it for mistakes that you may have overlooked.

Give value

Too many businesses are worried about push, push, push when it comes to engaging their customers. Mix it up every now and then, and create some good, valuable content in your E-mails. Spark conversation, ask for feedback, include videos or give them a nugget of useful information about your niche. Make the selling aspect secondary, and only when you are truly running a special promotion for them should you make it all about the sale.

Allow them to opt-out

Make sure you have an option to unsubscribe, although many (if not all) E-mail marketing services include a tiny “unsubscribe” button at the bottom of every E-mail you send. People receive a ton of E-mails each and every day, but not all of the junk is captured in spam filters. Some slip through the cracks, and regardless of whether they initially signed up to receive these E-mails, it’s important for them to have a way to opt out. (It’s the law, too, after all.)
The CAN-SPAM Act is a law that sets the guidelines and requirements for commercial E-mail messages, giving people the right to have you stop E-mailing them. There are pretty stiff penalties for those who are in violation (up to $16,000 for each email), so keep that in the back of your mind.

Don’t pile on

When people sign up for an E-mail list, they do it with the thought that they will not be bombarded with E-mails from you, unless otherwise stated. For me personally, if I feel like a company is starting to suffocate me with their E-mails, no matter how good the offer, I will begin sending them straight to my trash folder, or unsubscribe altogether. Have some self-awareness, and even ask yourself “would I want to receive this many E-mails?”
About the author: John Ehlenbeck gives small business advice, and is a contributing writer for Aprimo Integrated Marketing software.