Build Your Email Contact List

Despite numerous predictions of its imminent demise that have splashed across the headlines of business publications for several years now email marketing, in various formats, continues to march forward in vigorous health because it works. If email marketing didn’t produce quantifiable ROI we would have abandoned it years ago. Nope. Email marketing remains an efficient communication pathway that allows companies to announce a product launch, register attendees for a podcast or webinar, deliver to subscribers this week’s installment of your blog, entice mailing list members with an invitation to your virtual book launch, or inspire potential students with news of the debut of your online course.

Despite the popularity of half a dozen social media platforms that are experiencing an upward trend that shows no sign of slowing down, email marketing continues to be accepted by those on the receiving end, so long as the number from any one source does not overwhelm. When email list members value the sender, they seem to like updates delivered to their inbox.

So building a quality email list that’s populated with prospects who are interested in you and your company is good business. Today, we can identify a few smart, simple tactics that are fast-acting, free and can potentially create for your organization a brand building, money making email list.

  1. Social media

An effective and obvious way to quickly and organically build a robust email contact list at no cost is to post content on social media platforms and the more platforms you post content to, the faster you’ll collect names and email addresses. How so, you ask? Because sooner or later, readers of your content will respond to what you’ve written and when they do, you’ll capture their name and email address. It’s likely that those willing to give a like to your posts or make a comment will also be willing to join your email contact list.

Another easy email capture tactic can be done on your Facebook page, by way of the Call to Action button. Hover your cursor on the CTA and select the “Edit Button” option, then change the text to read “sign up” or “join” so that you can invite Facebook Fans to your email contact list.

LinkedIn users are able to send emails to all of their primary connections but to quickly grow your email list, you’ll want to reach out to your second degree (the connections of primary connections) and third degree connections (secondary connections, once removed). There is a free service called Snovio that allows account holders to install an email finder extension which, by way of a gmail account, allows LinkedIn users to find the email addresses of those distant cousins. Click to learn more.

2. Website sign-ups

Upload to your website reasons to collect names and email addresses. For some, that will be the “Contact us” form—website visitors who have questions or want more information about the company’s products or services are required to fill out a contact form and provide their name and email address. Other common website signup tactics are surveys, free telephone (video call) consultations, registrations for webinars and requests for free special publications—-your e-book, case studies, or white papers, for example. All are effective conduits for collecting names and email addresses that grow a viable email contact list.

3. Call to action

On your website landing page, on your white papers, blog, or newsletter, invite people to connect. You may be pleasantly surprised with the positive results of a straightforward appeal for email contact info. The share button and invitation to subscribe to or follow your blog and/ or newsletter will also bring in names and email addresses if your content is well- written and relevant.

Add a chat bot plug-in to your WordPress hosted website so that visitors can quickly obtain answers to basic questions about your products and services. Bot analytics will reveal the names and email addresses of your chat bot users, who are all set to join your growing email list.

Finally, get more mileage from your email signature block and invite recipients of your emails to opt-in and subscribe to your blog, newsletter and notices about other interesting things you’re doing.

4. YouTube videos

YouTube is the second- largest search engine in the world and about six billion videos are viewed on the site every day. People like visuals and videos are the favorite visual. Production value matters, so ask around to find out who you know with equipment that’s a level or two more advanced than your cell phone. Your public library may have equipment to use and a quiet room that will be all yours for an hour or two.

What story can you tell? You’ll have a few and you can make one or two of them sound appealing with a little thought and some rehearsal time. Providers of B2B services don’t have a product to show but we can do a convincing 5 minute promo on a course we’re set to teach, or a virtual talk we’ll give, or panel we’ll participate on.

If you’re rolling out a new service, pivoting your business, or embarking on a collaboration with colleagues that you and your partners can make sound exciting and useful to certain of your clients and prospects, include a video pitch in the launch campaign.

Remember to conclude your videos with both a verbal and text Call to Action. Ask for the business and direct viewers to click a button and be directed to your squeeze page, a landing page you can create that collects the names and email addresses of those who want to know more about your topic (i.e., what you’re selling). Learn to create a Wordstream squeeze page here.

After posting your pithy little video promo to YouTube, also get it onto Instagram stories, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and your website. Write a short teaser sentence to accompany a link to your video and include them in your email signature block.

5. Join business groups

All meetings are virtual and will remain so for the time being, but by attending events hosted by the group you join—-the chamber of commerce, a neighborhood business group, the local alumni chapter of your school, or other professional development and networking associations—-the benefits of membership include access to the member directory.

I don’t recommend that you import the directory and spam fellow members by sending your content without permission, because that will do you no favors. But one easy way to obtain the names and email addresses of desirable contacts is to attend virtual programs and make a pitch through the chat function.

During the final 15 minutes or so of the program send an all-person chat message to briefly introduce yourself and offer to send your blog, newsletter, e-book, or other content to anyone who’ll (privately) provide their name and address.

Attend one or two virtual events each month and you’ll be almost guaranteed to add 4-5 worthwhile names each month from this one source. This type of ask was originally done during the face2face conversations that took place during pre- event meet & greets (remember those?), but they can migrate to a virtual format without feeling awkward.

Building a robust email marketing prospect list is one of the best growth strategies business owners and leaders can do. If you’re able to add 10-20 contacts each month, declare victory. List building is an ongoing process—- it never stops. I’ve personally witnessed Freelancers who have 5000+ names on their list politely, skillfully, relentlessly, invite every potentially good contact to join their email list.

Thanks for reading,


Image: Replica of a vintage mailbox

Social Media Platforms: Review and Reassess

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March – April 2016, 68% of all U.S. adults use FaceBook; 28% use Instagram; 25% are on LinkedIn; 26% use Pinterest; and 21% use Twitter.  I’d consider that a compelling reason to ramp up your social media game, that is, if your can expect your customers to respond.  Not only that, participating in social media makes your business more appealing to the all-powerful Google algorithm and your place on the list is guaranteed to rise.  You might even land on page one.  Visibility, coupled with a story that resonates, is what marketing is all about.

The secret sauce of social media for your business is first, work with platforms that allow you to reach your customers and second, supply the style of content that will effectively tell your brand story and hold the attention of your customers, while using media formats that you have the time and money to produce.

Theoretically, social media is free advertising that lets you promote your brand, but there are costs associated with its production.  Time is the largest cost and if you include videos now and again, there will be video production costs.  Also remember that when in business, your job is to find and maintain clients.  Social media have a greater or lesser place in business, depending on your products and services, but it’s not the center of the universe.  If social media play a pivotal role in your marketing strategy based on the ROI generated, consider outsourcing the function to a fellow Freelancer.


The Pinterest platform allows members to “pin, ” that is post, photos and videos to what is called a pinboard and the format has made Pinterest an excellent vehicle to tell a brand story in visuals.  If the products or services that your company provides can tell and promote your brand story in a series of lovely photographs or catchy short videos—florists, fashion designers, interior designers, restaurateurs, pastry chefs and special event planners —then this platform is ideal for you.

As of January 2017, there are 150 million Pinterest users and 80 million are outside of the U.S.  Just over 80% are female.  The practice of “re-pinning” favored postings helps content to go viral and pushes you to the top of Google searches that could result in your name appearing on “trending” lists on sites like Yahoo News.

Infographics, those pictures, charts and graphs that also include text and give you yet another way to utilize visuals that help readers to quickly understand your narrative. are a great fit for Pinterest (and also Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn).  If you have the ability and time, use Photoshop to create a customized infographic, but do investigate the several free templates available as you evaluate what could be suitable for your story.  Much depends on the information that you’d like to share.  Some data will look best in bar graphs or pie charts; other elements of your brand story could be more captivating if presented in storyboard format.


Here it is, the platform that millennials love.  As of January 2017, the typical Snapchat user is female and under 34 years old (70% for both parameters).  41% of the 18-24 age group in the U.S. check into Snapchat every day, mostly on their smartphones. The platform has 300 million users worldwide (November 2016).

Your content will self-destruct in 24 hours, so your text and images must be memorable because tomorrow they will be gone.  But that’s sort of the fun part.  Snapchat is meant to be fun and ephemeral, like champagne bubbles in a pretty flute.

Restaurant owners can post photos of the daily specials.  Art galleries can post a piece or two of an artist’s work and announce his/her exhibit that will happen that evening.  Retail stores can advertise one-day sales.  Florists can can use their smart phones to make a short video on of themselves and the flowers that they’ll bring into the shop from that morning’s flower market.  Food trucks can send a photo of where you can find them for the day.


As of January 2017 there are nearly  320 million users tweeting around the globe and 82% of those users are on a mobile device when they do.  Users skew slightly more female and the demographic sweet spot is 18-50 years.  Twitter revolutionized social media and along the way, impacted how many of us communicate, thanks to the 140 character limit on tweets that caused us to pare down and condense our sentences.  Twitter has also taken part in social revolutions, most notably the Arab Spring of 2010-2012 that rocked from Tunisia to Persia.

Use Twitter to give real-time updates from an event you’re attending.  Send photos, videos, or links to articles and share your professional insights.  Invite readers to respond with their opinions and create the opportunity to engage with your audience.  Add Twitter to your PR campaign and send out news of your speaking engagements.  Include Twitter in your customer service protocol and invite customers to make suggestions that might improve service and help you better understand how to meet or exceed expectations.  A few might even thank you for a job well done and make you look good to many prospective customers !


One billion global citizens post videos to powerhouse YouTube and 180 million of those aspiring videographers are in the U.S. (January 2017) and many of the posted videos are of high quality. Thousands of YouTube users have created their own successful channels that sometimes rival network and cable television shows.  The platform is overwhelmingly about entertainment, but if you conduct tutorials and workshops, you might be able to build for yourself a nice little paid speaking career by posting a few of your workshops and picking up subscribers to your channel.  Maybe 23 minutes of education and 5 or 6 minutes total of intro and recap would work?

If you don’t mind being on camera for extended periods, you can hire someone to film  a behind-the-scenes view of you at work, especially if you do something that has the potential to capture viewer interest, like planning a wedding—talking to the couple (anonymously, of course), speaking with vendors and doing whatever it takes to efficiently pull together a lovely and memorable day.

You may want a system to help you manage your content across platforms and for that I recommend Hootsuite, that is if you’re inclined to invest $20/month in a service that allows you to schedule and track your many forms of content from one dashboard.  Pulling all the threads together will allow you to see the big picture, make it easy to see where you can re-use content and can only improve your social media strategy, impact and ROI.

In closing, I’ll remind you of social media best practices and encourage you to create content that can be expected to have value for the followers.  Pace the delivery of your content and do not overwhelm.

Thanks for reading,