The Worst Way to Grow Your Email List

stack of paper

Yesterday Chris Brogan wrote a post asking people to stop adding him to their newsletters without his consent. He pointed out that the fact that you sent him an email once, and he answered it, doesn’t count as permission. It’s just about the worst email marketing mistake you can make.

Ironically, as I was writing this post, an email popped up in my inbox. It was from someone who spoke at an event I attended. We never had a personal conversation. She doesn’t know who I am. Yet, she felt it was OK to contact everyone at the event and try to sell her services. That’s not marketing; that’s spamming. And, it’s the worst way to grow your email list.

There are much better ways to grow your email list.

Use double opt-in

This means you ask for the email address, send a confirmation link, and don’t add someone to your list until after they confirm that they want your messages. It can all easily be done automatically (with AWeber or another service).

Contact people when it helps them

For example, if you met someone at a meeting who wanted a referral, by all means send it.

Or, send an email if you come across something that will interest them. If you talked about Legos and you see there’s an exhibit of Lego art in town send them the information.

Bonus tip: If you keep doing this (sending relevant and interesting information) they’re far more likely to like, trust, and hire you.

Behave the way you would in person

Be considerate. You wouldn’t drive up to a stranger’s house and expect them to lend you money, would you?

Show that you listened to what they said when you spoke. Mention something you discussed, and how much you enjoyed talking to them.

Do it shortly after the event, not months later (when they won’t remember you).

Make it easy to unsubscribe

A bit earlier in the day, Direct magazine reported the results of a study which found that 39% of emailers require three or more clicks to unsubscribe! And 30% send one or emails following that unsubscribe request!

Yes, it’s technically legal to email people without express permission. It is not legal to keep emailing them (at least in the US) after they opt-out. You do have 10 days to remove the name, but it really shouldn’t take that long.

Treat opt-outs with respect

People will always unsubscribe for various reasons. When they do, make it easy. Don’t make them go through three clicks, or wind their way through a confusing menu of options. One click, one page. And, when they go, tell them you’re sorry to see them go.

What do you think?

What are your own email pet peeves? Is unsubscribing from unwanted newsletters taking up way too much of your time? Or is it not a big problem?

Image thanks to morguefile