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Four Ways to Grow Your Email File Organically: It Is So Worth the Wait

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All email marketing managers search for ways to grow their subscription files—this is a given—and many options and opportunities exist to grow subscription files organically.

Unfortunately, some email marketers still rely on purchasing permission-based lists as a means to increase their email file. By doing so, however, they settle for a quick fix that really does not result in a stable, viable, and cost-effective file.

The saying "Good things come to those who wait" applies to smart email marketing managers who appreciate the logic and process of growing their subscription file organically, over time, with well-developed marketing efforts.

The opportunities to grow a healthy subscription file comprising subscribers with true interests in your products, company, messaging... are only limited by the time you spend creating and implementing an effective email marketing acquisition plan.

Spend time developing these four critical elements to create a thorough email marketing acquisition plan:


1. Market Your Subscription Button

I often tell clients: "Don't hide the subscribe." Too many email marketers assume that subscribers know the marketer's site as well as the marketers do, and therefore miss many opportunities to capture new subscribers because the subscription link is "hidden."

For instance, one international lawnmower manufacturer hides the subscription button within the "contact us" link at the bottom of the site. This otherwise savvy retailer is making a tragic mistake by not providing the space that this pivotal acquisition tool deserves.

When formulating an email marketing acquisition plan, do not underestimate the power of a well-positioned subscription button that pops off the page. As email marketers, we spend much time and effort crafting, revising, testing, and sending campaigns... yet we don't focus on marketing our subscription buttons.

Site designers like to hide the signup link in order to achieve a certain esthetic "look and feel," but it comes at the cost of devaluing one of your company's most valuable assets. Your pay-per-click (PPC) and search-engine-optimization (SEO) campaigns are driving traffic to your homepage at significant cost. Ensure that you at least have a chance to acquire visitors' email addresses by promoting and marketing the subscription button.

Start doing so by following this simple and straightforward formula:

  1. Place the subscription button near or within the top and bottom navigation areas throughout the entire site. Do not limit your marketing efforts to only your homepage.
  2. Position a third subscription button in the center of your homepage—which is likely to be seen by all site traffic. Think of this button as a road sign for all traffic entering your site to immediately stop, look, and consider joining.

Invest the time to create clear and concise subscription buttons that grab your consumer's attention. Potential subscribers must be able to sign up for your email marketing campaigns quickly and with ease—or you simply lose the opportunity.

2. "Sell" the Subscribe

Subscription landing pages give email marketers the opportunity to sell subscribers on signing up and, more importantly, staying subscribed. The landing page should highlight the benefits that a subscriber will receive for signing up.

Consumers want, like, and simply deserve to be provided exactly what they can expect to receive, and how often, from a company's email marketing campaigns.

Providing the expectations up front will enable consumers to accept your messages with open arms, knowing what they will be sent and when. Keeping your subscribers "in the loop" rather than "in the dark" is to your benefit.

Ironically, the very same lawn manufacturer that doesn't market its subscription button has actually developed a robust subscription landing page that encompasses key elements:

  • It thanks the subscriber for showing interest and joining the email marketing efforts.
  • It highlights and describes in detail the type of campaigns that are sent.
  • It provides the consumer a link and image to preview a real-life example message from each campaign.
  • It allows subscribers to choose what campaigns they want to receive. For example, subscribers are offered four editions: Homeowners, Golf & Turf: On Course, Gift Ideas, Credit: Financial Opportunities.

The only element that the landing page does not yet incorporate is frequency. Setting a subscriber's expectation around how often they will be "touched" by a campaign would only strengthen the relationship. And giving consumers the option to tell you how often they want to receive your messages only forges a more stable and stronger bond.

3. Promote Subscribing

Don't underestimate all the potential opportunities available for attracting new subscribers. Push consumers to join your email marketing efforts via all marketing collateral: catalog, brochure, retail in-store signage and receipts, packaging inserts, special-event signage, and giveaway bag inserts...

Take advantage of every opportunity to promote subscribing by using slogans to entice consumers to "Sign Up For Savings" or "Be the First to Know."

I recently received several housewarming gifts from family and friends. The gifts were drop-shipped by various online retailers and did not include any packaging material inviting me to subscribe. Upon seeing your product in person, consumers will be more apt to sign up for your email program—so don't miss this easy opportunity to capture their email address.

4. Empower Your Front Line

Educate your customer-service department on the benefits of email marketing. Your customer service team speaks to your customers, potential customers, and gift recipients on a daily basis. The more informed and empowered they are to facilitate the subscription process, the quicker your file will grow.

Give them the power—teach them how to pitch the benefits of your email marketing campaigns. Provide them the tools needed to be real subscription vehicles. This department can help facilitate growth better than any button, landing page, or slogan.

* * *

Reap the rewards by focusing on these four organic elements for building a healthy and viable email marketing list.


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Kimberly Snyder is an account manager with Bronto (www.bronto.com) and works with clients to optimize their email marketing efforts.

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  • by John Thu Jun 19, 2008 via web

    Great insight on growing your email program organically.

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