customertrustNo matter what business you’re in, gathering email addresses is a smart marketing strategy. Sometimes customers easily fork over their information. If they’re on your website, they may be requesting information or a free download.

Other times, people are leery about giving up their email addresses, and for good reason. At tradeshows, department stores, and checkout lines, asking for an email address translates to:

“Can we hold everyone up while you spell out your email address so we can send you a bunch of crap you don’t want?”

No, thank-you.

Everyone thinks they will get spammed, and not just by third parties. They think you’re going to spam them. You really want their email addresses; how do you convince people to give you a valid method of electronic communication?

  1. Be completely transparent. How soon do you send your first email? How often do you send emails? What is the content of the messages? If you don’t have compelling content in your emails – whether it’s information or discounts – you shouldn’t be sending them anything, anyway. Let people know exactly what to expect from you and stick to it.
  2. Remind them that it’s easy. If you’re standing in line and an employee asks you for your email address, it feels like doing so will hold you up for five minutes. Realistically, it takes less than 30 seconds to enter an email address. Tell them that. Also remind them that they can easily unsubscribe at any time.
  3. Give them another option. If you can get people to follow your social media accounts, post links to discounts (or whatever) there. Grab their email addresses then. It feels less violating. To get them to your page, offer an immediate discount or promotional gift in exchange for proof of following your business online. Customers can show that they liked (or whatever) your business on their phones. Point out a few relevant things on your page to engage them right away. People feel more in control when information comes through a stream or newsfeed than straight to their email accounts. Post signs so that people have their phones queued up to your page when they get to the right person.
  4. Make that option even easier. Your greatest enemy in convincing people to subscribe to your mailing list is time. If you take the time to convince them to sign up, it will just take more time to fill out a form. People want to get in and out. They don’t want you to pitch anything else to them. However, people turn to their phones when they’re bored. Heck, they turn to their phones when they’re socializing. Give people a QR code. Put it on a promo item (if it’s big enough), receipt, coupon, mailer, price tag, or something else they will take home with them. Link it to your social media account or an email signup form. Use this opportunity to convince people that they A) want your emails and B) can trust you with their personal information. Provide a short blurb or video they can access on their own time rather than feel rushed into a decision at a store or event.

Ultimately, if you arm your customers with enough information, respect, and convenience, they’ll be more likely to sign up for your emails.

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