To grow your list, you need three things:
- A way for people to sign up
- A reason for people to sign up
- A way to invite people to sign up
First, a way for people to sign up
There is a little geekery involved here, but the commercial email services (CES) have gone out of their way to make it easy for you create signup forms for most occasions. By and large they are not all that pretty to look at, but use them anyway – that way all the mechanics of collecting the info, adding it to your email list, and sending the confirming email are all embedded in their form. Otherwise we’re talking serious geekery required to code all that capability yourself.
There are four basic signup tools.
A signup link. This is your basic hot link that takes the clicker to a webpage where they can sign up. Once you design the page (easy to do if you aren’t too fussy) on your CES they will give you a link that you can add to any communication with your readers (Facebook post, email signature, blog post). Then all you have to do is write a line asking for signups with the link at the end.
An embedded form. In addition, your CES will let you design a simple signup form and then provide the HTML code necessary to embed it on your web site. If you are uncomfortable with the copy-and-paste process (“copying” is easy, but it can be a little bewildering to figure out where the heck in the code on your page you should “paste” it), ask a geeky friend for help – it won’t take but a couple of minutes of her/his time. I’m a geeky friend, for example 🙂
Capturing names and emails at live events. Mail Chimp has apps for mobile devices that let you access and manage your account wherever you are, including versions specifically for tablets. You can use it to display a form for people sign up electronically. In addition, they recommend a third party app called ChimpDeeDoo (which I recommend also) which is designed solely for capturing names/emails for your list while you’re on the go and is much easier on both you and the signer. Vertical Response claims to have one too, but it is no longer available on iTunes so I couldn’t try it. Aweber doesn’t seem to have this capability at all. Major kudos to Mail Chimp on this point.
Custom forms for specific applications. Both Aweber and Mail Chimp have WordPress plugins to add a signup form to your blog – the advantage to using these (assuming you are using WordPress) rather than the CES provided embedded form above is that it’s somewhat easier to do the whole thing on your own. Both companies also provide robust integrations with Facebook (including adding a signup form). In addition, they have various levels of integration with numerous other applications, including Paypal (so you can capture emails from the sale). I couldn’t tell from the Vertical Response website how well they are integrated with other applications.
It seems like a lot, but you can take them one at a time. I would tackle them in the order above. At a minimum, create the signup link using your CES’ signup page. It just takes a couple of minutes, and you’re off to the list-building races.