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First you give, then you get

One of the important and popular topics my clients often ask for my opinion and recommendations is that of how to successfully grow their email distribution list. The key of course is to grow your powerful list with the names and email address of your clients, potential clients, colleagues, partners and qualified individuals interested in your offerings and wisdom. I am also making the assumption that you already have or shortly planning on having a newsletter strategy and campaign for your company. If you are unsure, check out this article: Is anyone listening? Why develop a corporate electronic newsletter strategy?

Here are some points to consider:

  1. You must deliver much and great value at first. I have written and spoke on this extensively and suggest you write articles, whitepapers, publish research, record audio and video and deliver your intellectual property while making it free and easy to receive by simply clicking on a link or a graphic image. Only then would trust and interest get established.
  2. Place a newsletter signup box on every page of your web site allowing visitors to easily register for your newsletter.
  3. Incorporate a privacy policy and statement to ensure visitors that their information will not be shared with others and make sure you preciously guard their information. Some time ago I registered to receive a newsletter which I enjoyed getting. At one point this person sent her distribution list an invitation using her regular email program while openly copying everyone on the list. Although not sold or shared with a 3rd parte, this obviously and innocently exposed everyone’s name and email address with all, which is a huge mistake.
  4. Offer special incentives such as unique view and downloads of resources such as: articles, eBooks, podcasts and videos. Yet, request the person’s name and email address in order to email them the link to that special resource. This quid pro quo concept requires the person to submit their information in order to receive that resource. I recommend you require they enter only their name and email address rather then making it too complicated by requiring additional information.
  5. When I formally or informally meet individuals, I engage them in a conversation and ask their permission to add them to our newsletter. I either do this verbally during our discussion or via email after our meeting. For more on this and the exact language I use, check out my blog entry found here.
  6. Include your most recent article in your email signature and an invitation to join your newsletter.
  7. During your speaking presentations I suggest you leverage the opportunity to simply say something like this: “There are seven key mistakes CEOs make when it comes to effectively growing their business. Let me share the top three with you and if you are interested in the other three, simply email me after today’s presentation or give me your business card and write mistakes on the back of it.” You can obviously change the language as you see fit, but I find this to be quite effective. The other one I use is: “In a couple of minutes I will share with you an important resource that is available for you for free on our web site. You may want to have your pen and paper ready.” I then share with them the link to our special resources page and briefly discuss the value they will find there. Notice also the language I use on that page suggesting the free newsletter they will receive.
  8. Allow recipients of your newsletter to forward it to their colleagues.
  9. Offer to become a guest contributor on others’ web sites and email newsletters. When you are given the chance to become one, include your own newsletter information in your attribution section at the bottom of your article.
  10. When selling products on your site, suggest visitor subscribe to your newsletter during their checkout process. Also include a sample of your newsletter and a link to your archive section.
  11. For those of you who leverage direct marketing channels such as regular mail, FedEx, fax and/or telemarketing, why not offer some form of high-value free booklet or book while requesting their email and permission for you to stay in touch.
  12. Make it easy for subscribers to unsubscribe by allowing them to simply click on an unsubscribe button or email you the subject remove and such. Honor it immediately and never force them to go through unneeded cumbersome steps to be excluded (opt-out) from your newsletters.

I have seen a direct correlation in how effectively many newsletters are used to drive value and grow the business. If done properly, your distribution list will increase significantly as well as your business and revenues. On the other hand it could seriously impact your reputation and have a negative affect on your business. Ask for permission, give genuinely and then you may be fortunate to get.

© Chad Barr 2008 All rights reserved.

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