Email marketing is a high-impact, low-cost way of delivering your marketing message to current customers and prospects — if, that is, you have a great email list. If you don’t, this article is for you. Read on for the most effective and creative ways to build your email list.

If your email list is short, scant on information, full or errors and redundancies, or just not on-track with your targeting, that poor-quality data can be worse than having no data at all! Without a good email list, all your other digital marketing efforts are little more than wheel spinning.

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There’s a lot to be said for the human touch, and these ideas rely on good old-fashioned human interaction to help you build your email list.

Build your email list the right way

1. Put out the sign-up sheet

Whether you’re at a trade show, community event or in your own storefront, collecting email addresses in person can be as easy as putting out a signup sheet and encouraging people to write down their details.

2. Leverage business cards

When you meet people face to face for any reason, ask for their business card. Offer yours. Set a glass bowl on the counter in your store or the reception desk in your office, and ask visitors to drop their cards in it. Offer some incentive to do so — a free product or service, gift card, etc. Use your own business cards to further drum up emails; add an offer on the back of your card that encourages people to sign up to receive your emails.

3. Host an event

Stage an event — lunch gathering, topic talk, book club or whatever works to get people in the door. Drop invitations at nearby businesses, post the notice on your front door, and advertise in local media. Ask people to RSVP with their email addresses.

4. Invite people to ‘join the club’

Offer a birthday or anniversary club that allows people to “enroll” by providing their email address and relevant date. Reward them with a special offer for signing up, and follow up with something else special, such as a discount coupon, on their birthday or anniversary date.

5. Organize a giveaway

Using snail mail and/or your existing email list, send people a postcard asking for email information and offer them a reward for providing it.

6. Drum up emails with direct mail

Sometimes you have a physical address but no email address. Send a direct-mail offer they can only get by going to your website and joining your email list.

7. Try some telemarketing

Throughout the day, you and your employees probably interact with many customers and prospects on the phone. Before you hang up, always ask if they would like to join your email list. Give them a brief statement of the benefits of enrolling — for example, exclusive offers and discounts only available to email subscribers.

8. Optimize your website for opt-ins

If a customer or prospect visits your website, they’re already at least somewhat interested. Don’t miss the opportunity to add them to your email list. Include email registration forms on every main page of your site, as well as on the pages for popular products and services.