With the world gradually emerging from lockdown, businesses are finding themselves coming face-to-face with their clients again. But as we meet in person and awkwardly decide whether to offer a handshake, elbow bump, or social distanced wave, there is one piece of engagement that should never be inhibited—building your email lists.

Truth be told, businesses have never been very good at collecting data in the real world. For example, how many business cards have lingered in old school goldfish bowls for days or even weeks after their collection at an event or on a tradeshow counter, bar, or reception desk? Then there’s the question of quality. How many of those email addresses have been casually tossed into the pot in the hope of winning an ill-advised prize draw? Do any of these people have any intention or even the slightest interest in ever becoming a client? It’s little wonder that so many marketers struggle to identify and follow up on quality leads in a timely fashion.

Staying on the Right Side of Email Marketing Legislation

It’s also worth remembering that collecting business cards in a goldfish bowl or randomly scanning event badges isn’t the most GDPR, CASL, or CPRA (coming soon) compliant collection method. Moreover, without a carefully worded permission statement connected to every subscription, some of those hastily collected email addresses could come back and cause you headaches in the future. 

There is No Such Thing as an Offline Business

Can you imagine an online business letting anyone engage with their organization beyond a certain point without asking for some personal information? It wouldn’t happen. So why is this allowed to happen in the offline world?

As the world of business evolves, there really is no such thing as an offline business anymore. At the very least, businesses are now hybrid models with even the smallest, mom-and-pop type venture engaging their audience using digital marketing platforms. So let’s shake off this idea of doing things differently in the real world—and start by being more proactive at building our lists.

Make List Building Part of the Conversation

Asking for email data doesn’t have to be a passive-aggressive act. It’s all about offering value to your potential subscribers.

In this respect, it’s no different from collecting email addresses online. People are unlikely to click on a “newsletter” link on your website, knowing you will simply hit them with marketing campaigns. But they will surrender their details if they know they will receive a valuable piece of content, voucher code, access to an event, or a free trial of your product. This approach works just as well in the real world.

When people see value in your proposition, they will volunteer their information. So you just need to make it as easy as possible to collect it.

Five Email List Building Best Practices in the Real World

  1. Segment at Source: Segment your subscribers at the source by taking time to understand what their specific interests are before adding them to a list. They might be interested in a particular product or service you offer, or perhaps they are interested in partnering with your organization. If you find yourself in the position of adding their details to a “catch-all” email list, it might not be worth actually taking their details.
  2. Point of Sale Email Subscription Forms: Make your forms readily available at the point of sale or to your staff at tradeshows and networking events. By hosting a simple email subscription form on a tablet, customers can be encouraged to enter their details, avoiding any issues your staff may have entering unfamiliar or challenging-to-spell names.
  3. QR Codes: More useful than you ever thought they could be. QR codes can be displayed on any printed collateral (posters, display stands, brochures, business cards, etc.). For example, a QR code pointing to a specific landing page can capture customer details with a good call-to-action, even when they don’t get the opportunity to speak directly with a member of your team.
  4. Deliver on Your Promises: A simple auto-responder or onboarding campaign will help deliver on your promises in a timely fashion. Don’t leave them hanging if someone has subscribed with the offer of a compelling piece of content or a voucher code. Remember, the first email you send to a new subscriber is the most important email you will ever send to them. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure your campaign is specific to their particular reason for subscribing. 
  5. Smart Incentives: It’s not just about incentivizing your contacts to subscribe to your lists. It’s always a great idea to incentivize your colleagues to collect data as well. But remember, email marketing is not a “numbers game,” and not all leads are of equal value. So why not make it more interesting for everyone by rewarding colleagues who add subscribers to your list that deliver real value by becoming customers, increasing their spend, or partnering with your organization?

Bringing Email Marketing into the Real World

Doing business in the real world is a fantastic way to introduce your organization to new and existing customers and partners. Unfortunately, it’s also costly and time-consuming. Too many businesses engage in real-world marketing activities without genuinely understanding how the process adds to their organization’s bottom line.

Email marketing is the lever that turns a tremendous real-world event into a profitable real-world event.

Need help launching your email marketing strategy in the real world? Contact us at expert@emfluence.com!

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