Why You Need To Be Collecting Email Addresses…. Now

Believe it or not, the first email marketing message was sent in 1978 to about 400 users, which resulted in about $13M in new sales for DEC (Digital Equipment Company). After that, the sender Gary Thuerk found himself with the nickname, ‘Father of Spam’ – although true SPAMMING had yet to be perfected until the 1990s, when the Internet really changed the way we work and play.

While much has changed in the past 10 years, email marketing remains a powerful tool when it comes to marketing your business, and when I see companies making no effort to collect an email address from the visitors that hit their site I shake my head at the lost opportunity.

The Importance of Email Collection for B2B Companies

You worked hard to develop content for your site – you have white papers, you have case studies, you have plenty of data sheets comparing your products with your competitors. Then you spend a lot of money and effort on promoting your content – PPC, affiliate marketing, guest blogging, etc. Visitors are coming to your site by the boatload, gobbling up your content, but your phone isn’t ringing.

Don’t leave it up to them to call you. The minute they hit your page, before you just hand over your 300-hour research paper, kindly ask for an email address. These are business people – they know what’s up. They’re at your site for a reason – they’re at least researching whether your company’s offerings may help them solve a particular pain point – there’s no reason to just hand over the keys without having them first introduce themselves.

Then, once you have their email address, add them to your sales funnel and nurture them – send them helpful tips to improve their business, share industry-specific news with them, and only try to sell them on your own products about 20-30% of the time. Email address collection should really only be done to start a relationship – not to hard sell. Show your customers that you know their business, you know the issues they’re facing, and let them know that you can help.

Email Collection for B2C Companies / Bloggers

Just like B2B companies, B2C companies and Bloggers should also never pass up the opportunity to collect their visitors’ email addresses. Most of us are pretty familiar with how B2C companies use email addresses – flash sales, member pricing, recall notices – but B2C companies can also use email addresses to build a stronger relationship with their customers. Just like B2B, a kid’s clothing store could send out a “Top 10 Back-to-School Tips” email or a Cooking School could send out monthly recipes. Bloggers should also take the time to collect their reader’s email addresses and keep them up-to-date on their latest posts, projects, etc.

So How Do I Start Collecting Email Addresses?

There are a number of lead capture tools to help you manage your email collection. My preferred method is PopupAlly (it’s used on this site) because they provide an easy-to-use WordPress plug-in that has more than doubled my opt-in rate – but there are other tools as well, you just need to find the tool that fits your needs and website structure. You can also use the forms that come with your ESP (Email Service Provider) like MailChimp, ActiveCampaign, Aweber, etc.

When you ask for an email address from a visitor, be sure to trade them something for their trust. It can be anything from business-like to fun (think white papers or daily cute kitten pictures), it really depends upon your audience. As you collect their information make sure you clearly state that you WILL NOT SHARE THEIR PERSONAL INFORMATION WITH ANYONE (I’ll write more about that some other time). A full database of potential customers is more valuable to you than any quick buck you could make SPAMMING, so be very clear about what they can expect from you if they trust you with their email and other personal information.

Collecting an email address is just the start – there are many challenges that come after you’ve collected someone’s email address – deliverability, content, conversions – but that doesn’t mean that email marketing isn’t still a powerful marketing tool, and collecting that email address is the only way to start.