To: Whom? How to Grow Your Email Marketing Contact List

Last week, I attended Boston Geek Girl TechCon, a local Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) event bringing together young professionals working in tech in order to augment their digital marketing skillset. As an attendee, I sat in on several informative sessions, such as The Power of the Inbox: Tips and Tricks for Successful Email Marketing, a workshop which was sponsored by Constant Contact. Now, I'm taking the lessons I learned at Geek Girl and passing them on to you, so that you may take full advantage of our content and accelerate your own sales pipeline!

In our eBook, Email Marketing Best Practices for MSPs, we discuss how to strategically leverage the power of email marketing to grow you business, explaining how to design and what to write in the right email. But in order to nurture leads with targeted email campaigns, you have to have a list of contacts to send your messages to...

Explicit vs. Implicit Permission 

So how do you get the contact information you need to be able to follow up with those key decision makers whose companies may be a good fit for your managed IT services? And even if you do get their email addresses, how do you even know they want to hear from you?

According to Suzan Czajkowski, President of TheCommCoach, there are two ways in which businesses receive permission to email people: implicitly and explicitly. Explicit consent is the most typical form of lead generation we see. This involves contacts opting in to join your company's email list. An example of this would be submitting information or checking a box on an online form to sign up for your newsletter. In doing this, those contacts signal to you that they will allow you to send them your marketing messaging. Keep in mind that all website forms should include a disclaimer at the bottom expressing this. When you download our managed IT services email marketing eBook, for instance, you will see the following:

By completing this form you are consenting to receiving MSP educational content via email and possibly being contacted by a Continuum representative if you show interest.

Sadly, even when prospects opt in to receive your marketing emails, your commercial emails may still fall into the spam trap. To prevent this, check out HubSpot's A Marketer's Guide to Getting Past Email Spam Filters!

The other form of permission – one not captured by forms – is implicit permission. Czajkowski taught us that any time contacts provide email addresses, they are implicitly allowing you to email them afterward.

So besides online opt-ins and forms, how can you achieve this to build your email marketing list? Let's look at a few examples.

3 Fair Play Ways to Garner Email Addresses In-Person

1. Business Cards

Attending, sponsoring and speaking at industry events is a great way to get your name out there, and no self-respecting business owner shows up to such a gathering without business cards. Make sure you always have a fresh stack on hand when networking with your peers and prospects. Once other attendees give you their business cards, you're free to email them to continue that conversation! Other than through face-to-face interactions, you can also collect business cards via a sponsor table "fishbowl." Offer an incentive for people who pass your booth to drop their card in. Many sponsors hold a random drawing, in which participants are entered to win a free gift card. 

Pro Tip for that "Ahhh I left my business cards back at the office" moment: Create a digital business card in seconds! Apps like Zap, the Digital Business Card pull information from your social profiles.

2. Quick Response (QR) Codes 

QR Codes store all sorts of useful marketing information, including email addresses! For this reason, businesses now increasingly employ them across printed assets. If you're hosting an event or tech meet-up, consider adding a "Get All Our Latest!" QR Code on table tents or in the event program. Rather than forcing people to type in the URL to a specific landing page and then have to fill out a form, this creates a better mobile user experience for attendees who can simply scan the code with their QR reader. 

3. Sign-Up Sheets

OK, so pen and paper isn't exactly the "techiest" way to go about business and certainly isn't meant for large crowds, but don't deny the effectiveness of a good, old-fashioned, printed sign-up sheet! It can be used to capture additional information to use in email marketing, details that prospects might not print on their business cards, such as company size, data compliance requirements and "how'd you hear about us?" In this way, sign-up sheets act as an in-person form, providing you with everything you need to target specific prospects and tailor your message accordingly.

Pro Tip: If you have pens with your company's logo, use them! It just helps further establish your brand and legitimacy! 

These are just three additional ways you can optimize existing efforts to build your database. Can you think of any others? Leave a comment below!