E-mail marketing to your in-house list is an effective, affordable and measurable marketing tactic. According to results of the GlobalSpec “Trends in Industrial Marketing 2009” survey, more than 70% of industrial marketers plan to use e-mail marketing to in-house lists in 2009, and e-mail marketing is one of the top five sources of leads for companies in the industrial sector.

To get the most out of your e-mail marketing efforts, you should focus on growing your opt-in list of subscribers. Opt-in means that subscribers are choosing to receive your e-mail marketing communications by registering and providing their e-mail address to you.

The primary strategy in growing your list is to use every opportunity available to you to ask people to opt-in to your e-mail communications. Follow the tips below to increase the number of subscribers who receive your e-mails, which in turn can increase brand awareness, lead generation and sales opportunities for your company.

Include sign-up forms on your Web site
Every page on your Web site should promote your e-mail communications. Try an eye-catching graphic and headline with a link to your registration page. Place it in various locations on Web pages and track which pages and locations work best for converting subscribers. Alternatively, you can try adding just a simple form on each page that allows a visitor to put in their e-mail address and instantly subscribe.

Use viral features in your e-mails
Add a “Forward to a Friend” feature to your communications that allows current subscribers to forward your e-mail to others by adding e-mail addresses into a form. If you don’t have the capability to add that feature (almost all e-mail marketing service providers offer it), you can put “Please forward” in the subject line or headline.

Create a compelling subscription page
If you provide links from your Web pages to an e-mail subscription page, make sure that page “sells” your e-mail communications. Here are specific tips for the subscription page:

  • Describe exactly what subscribers are opting-in for: how often you will send e-mails, what they will contain, and the benefits for subscribers.
  • Ask for the minimal amount of information on your registration form. A few fields should do it: Name (so you can personalize e-mails), e-mail address, and preference for HTML or text version (yes, you should offer both). You can include other fields on your form, but make them optional. Later on, if you begin a relationship with a subscriber, you can capture more information.
  • Add an offer to help drive subscriptions. Offer your just-published white paper, a recorded Webinar, a discount off a purchase, free shipping or anything else that will motivate visitors to become subscribers.

Contact everyone in your database

If you haven’t already, send an e-mail to everyone in your database asking them to opt-in to your relevant marketing e-mails. If you don’t have their e-mail addresses, begin a call campaign. Write a short script promoting your e-mail communications for customer service and sales people to use when speaking with customers on the phone.

Use social media
Social media is growing as a marketing tool for businesses, and you can use it to build your opt-in e-mail list. Make available social media links such as Digg, StumbleUpon or Delicious from your Web site or within your e-mails, which allow existing subscribers to submit your content to social media outlets so others can find it. You also can promote your e-mail communications on your blog or Facebook page. On Twitter or LinkedIn, you can provide links to relevant pages where visitors can subscribe to your e-mail communications.

Use off-line communications
Promote your e-mail communications on invoices, statements, receipts and other printed pieces. Bring subscription forms to trade shows, training sessions or other live events. If your company uses an interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system, record a brief message promoting your e-mail communications.

Cross-promote your opt-in e-mail
Have all of your outgoing e-mails include a promotion of your opt-in e-mail form in the signature, with a link to the subscription page. A good idea is to standardize e-mail signatures across your company, or at least your department, so that everyone is on the same page in terms of what to promote in their signature. 

Partner up for co-registration
If you have any partners with non-competitive offerings intended for the same audience, promote each other’s e-newsletter to help increase your subscriber base.

Audit, test and measure
Keep track of where you promote your e-mail list and continually look for new places to promote it. You’ll also want to test your offer and subscription page, because even if you get people to click to your subscription page you may not convert them. Try different images, layouts and colors; test different headlines and copy. Keep track of what works best and keep tweaking to gain additional improvements and more opt-in subscribers.


  1. Just thought I’d expand on the ‘why’ behind only using the minimum number of fields on your opt-in form.

    The more fields present the lower your opt-in rate will be. Asking for more gets you fewer conversions.

    You may even ask for the First Name only, which allows you to personalize yet lets the subscriber still feel like they have some privacy.

  2. When starting an e-mail campaign to an in-house list of former or current customers, what are recommendations for the options to offer on frequency of e-mails, as part of the opt-in e-mail subscription form?

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