Start Your Email Newsletter Without an Opt-In List

email list opt insCatherine on LinkedIn asks:

I need advice on what email newsletter service to use. Mail Chimp and Constant Contact require me to have email addresses that already have opted in. This is my first newsletter so I don’t have this. I have a list of emails from all my business cards. How do I do this?

If you’re starting your first newsletter, like Catherine, it can be a bit daunting. Most email providers want you to have opt-in names for your list, but you’ve got no list, and no permission, so how can you email? You do have a stack of business cards though. Is that OK?

Email list opt ins and opt outs

While CAN-SPAM technically requires opt-out, rather than opt-in, the top email service providers require that you get explicit permission first. It reduces their (and your) spam complaints and improves email deliverability. Plus, while it’s not legally necessary, it’s much more considerate and helpful to ask first (rather than just starting to shout at people).

How to get email list opt ins

For clients, or prospects you’re already talking to, send a personal email (don’t do it en masse, and don’t let them see each other’s info), telling them you’re starting a newsletter.

Ask them to opt-in to your email list.¬† Include a few points about the types of topics you’ll be covering, how often you’ll be sending it, and how it will help them.

If they are people you met recently, send a personal email saying it was nice to meet you at X, I enjoyed talking about Y, and including the opportunity for an email list opt-in (again with info about what they’ll receive). ¬†Include a link to opt-in to your newsletter.

Then add an email list opt-in form to your blog or website, repeating the bullet points, and asking readers to sign up. Send the people you’ve contacted to that page.

You can also encourage the opt-in by offering a special bonus to the first X number of people to sign-up.


One thought on “Start Your Email Newsletter Without an Opt-In List

  1. When gathering business cards, you can ask their permission to be added to your mailing list. If they agree, note that on the card and you can then manually add them to your mailing list.

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