9 Ways to Build a Future-Proof Email List

With all this talk of GDPR and its impact on direct marketing, I thought it would be good to take a look at email marketing in particular. Some are saying the new data protection regulations will see the end of purchased lists, others say nothing will change for B2B marketers. Either way, building your own list of opted-in email addresses should future proof your email marketing.

The secret to a good quality email list is no secret at all; it’s about having the right people on there who want to hear from you and are interested in what you have to say and offer. Therefore, building a list of people who have actively opted-in to receiving emails from you, should always be a priority. In this article, I’ll share a few ideas for growing your list naturally.

#1 Embedded sign-up forms

Most websites now have a contact form for users to submit their enquiries to us. By adding a checkbox to that form to prompt users to sign up for regular updates, you can start building your list as you receive enquiries from people interested in your products or services.

Be sure to leave the checkbox unticked and require them to tick the box to actively opt-in.

#2 QR codes


QR what? Ok, so QR codes never really got much traction and still cause some confusion for people. Let’s start with the basics. A QR code is like a barcode. It’s usually square, black and white, and can be scanned using a barcode scanning app for smartphones. A QR code can contain any number of bits of information from phone numbers, addresses, website URLs to tweets and Google Maps locations.

By creating a sign-up form online, you can direct people to this from offline sources such as printed literature, business cards, and display banners by printing a dedicated QR code and prompting people to scan it.

Check out qrstuff.com for a free, simple way to get started.

#3 Point of sale

If you’ve ever bought anything online, you’ll no doubt have seen a checkbox to receive marketing emails when you get to the checkout. Whilst online stores have this covered, what about bricks and mortar stores?

It’s becoming more common among bigger chains for email addresses to be collected when you pay for your goods. Argos and Halfords, for example, collect an email address to send you your receipt. Brantano footwear run competitions, asking for an email address when you pay for your shoes to be entered into a prize draw.

It’s important to offer something of value such as exclusive offers only available to subscribers.

#4 Event attendees

If you run events, such as open days, networking events, workshops, and seminars, it makes sense to capture your attendees' email addresses so you can keep them informed of the details of the event and send reminders in the run-up to the date. You can also use emails to send post-event surveys and details of future events.

#5 Facebook

Email marketing software, such as MailChimp, integrates with Facebook, giving you the option to host a sign-up form on your business’s Facebook Page. This is a great option if you have a large following on Facebook and want to communicate with your follows directly. Taking your social media followers from just being followers to being subscribers, takes them further down the buying process and one step closer to becoming a customer.


#6 Social Lead Generation Campaigns

The big three platforms (LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter) all offer the ability to run advertising campaigns with the main focus being collecting email addresses. These are known as Lead Generation campaigns.

You’ll need to give people a good reason for them to hand over their personal data, but some campaigns that have been successful for us are competitions and giveaways, entering people into a prize draw, as well as offering free information, such as e-books, resources, and tools.

Which platform you choose will depend on who you’re trying to target and where they hang out.

#7 Forward to a Friend

If you have an established list of subscribers and avid fans of your brand, you can use them to grow your list further, by prompting them to forward your emails to a friend.

Most email software providers give you the option of adding a button or link to facilitate this. Once the email is forwarded to the friend, the friend will then be prompted to subscribe to the list too.

#8 Free downloads/resources

Otherwise known as lead magnets, free downloads are a great way to get people opted-in to your lists. Providing your free resource is relevant and valuable, the people who choose to download it will be people who are genuinely interested in what you do and what you have to say and have a good chance of becoming customers in the future, providing you nurture the relationship.

#9 Trade shows


Attending events, expos, and trade shows is a great brand awareness exercise, but it can also be a good opportunity to grow your database. As with other methods of collecting emails, you’ll need to offer something in return; something of value. It could be something generic like a bottle of Champagne or hamper of goodies, however, if you make your giveaway relevant to what you do, you’re more likely to attract subscribers who are interested in your products and services.

If you have a MailChimp account, you can add email addresses directly into your account from people visiting your stand, using their tablet app. Read more about that here.

In summary…

Be clear about what you are asking them to sign up for. Make sure you communicate the benefits they will receive as part of your subscriber base and follow through with what you’ve promised from the outset to retain subscribers over time.

With all the methods listed here, you need to get explicit consent before adding anyone to a mailing list. You also need to make sure you keep a record of when and how they opted in and give them a simple way to opt out in future.

For more information about data protection regulations visit: https://www.gov.uk/data-protection