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Technology Tip

Technology Tip
Dave Pelland has extensive experience covering the business use of technology, networking and communications tools by companies of all sizes. Dave's editorial and corporate experience includes more than 10 years editing an electronic technology and communications industry newsletter for a global professional services firm.

Building an Email Marketing List

Building an Email Marketing List

While social media platforms gain attention and build momentum, email marketing remains the most effective way for most small businesses to reach prospects, engage with customers and, ultimately, increase revenue.

Capturing the benefits of email marketing, though, requires building a distribution list of customers and prospects willing to receive your messages — which means list-building should be a key part of your company’s promotional routine.

The most common forms of email communications are newsletters providing valuable information to customers and prospects or promotional offers. Either way, communicating regularly with customers and prospects through email marketing can provide a compelling return on investment, with many companies enjoying a 40:1 or higher ROI.

In addition, regular email marketing and provide a steady stream of qualified leads that make your other sales and marketing efforts more powerful. Understand that list-building should be a process that, like other forms of prospecting, rewards consistent effort.

Effective Content

Probably the easiest way to get people to subscribe to your email newsletter or other updates is by offering valuable or helpful information that’s not available on your public website in exchange for their email address. While your offer will depend on your business or customer type, you’ll want to provide information that will help customers solve a specific problem.

For example, a caterer may offer tips or checklists for effective event planning, or an accountant may offer a guide to retaining financial documents or maximizing deductions. Service providers in business-to-business segments may offer research reports, white papers or similar in-depth information about industry developments.

Whatever challenges your customers face, your subscriber-only content should provide concrete steps to address those challenges because doing so helps validate your credentials and can improve your relationship with those prospects or customers.

It’s also important to make sure this content is informative for your subscribers. Slapping together a checklist or rehashing older content is more likely to make people feel cheated and harm your credibility.

Website Sign-ups

Another key to attracting email list subscribers is making it as easy as possible to sign up for your list. For most companies, the best places for including sign-up forms are the company’s about us and contact pages. In both instances, customers are interested in learning more about your company, and are more likely to sign up.

A pop-up banner with a text box for entering an email address is another effective tactic. Most consumers say they don’t like those banners, but their effectiveness means they aren’t going way soon.

Wherever you place the form, it’s critical to explain how you plan to use their address. Specifying how you’ll contact them, and promising not to sell their information to other companies, are key steps in getting the trust you need for people to provide their email address.

Similarly, keep the form as simple as possible. All you need is their email address, or email and first name if you want to personalize your messages. Asking for more information will reduce your response rates considerably.

And it’s critical to follow regulations requiring people to confirm their subscriptions. Your email service provider can handle this, but you don’t want to email people without permission or offering subscribers an easy way to unsubscribe.

With consistent effort, your email list can provide a rich source of leads that, in turn, offer considerable benefits to your small business’ growth.


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