We all understand that the days of buying a lead list, loading contacts into a CRM and blasting out emails are long gone. Nevertheless, building a completely fresh email database from scratch can be a big undertaking. Plus, once it’s built, businesses need a strategy in place to avoid database decay. After all, email marketing databases naturally degrade by roughly 22.5 percent every year.

So, how can a small business owner get started—and overcome database decay in the long run? Even more, without months to dedicate to the task, how can a small business owner quickly scale a database, so that a business can quickly start nurturing a list of opt-in prospects?

Let’s explore the ways.

Attracting Prospects

The most important step in growing an email database is creating original content that’s valuable for a target audience.

Everything begins with content. The most important step in growing an email database is creating original content that’s valuable for a target audience. It’s quite simple, really—by generating remarkable content that visitors want, subscribers will stay subscribed (and they might even forward emails to their friends and family who aren’t yet subscribers).

But, what kind of content is remarkable content?

  • Develop top-of-the-funnel content offers, like eBooks, guides and industry reports that attract new subscribers.
  • Promote an online contest or an exciting giveaway, and have entrants sign up or submit using their email address.
  • Create multiple email lists to send targeted content to specific audience segments—creating the right content for the right people at the right time.
  • Regularly feature valuable blog content, causing more individuals to subscribe to keep pace with industry news and trends.
  • Utilize social media to share various content pieces, such as infographics, blog posts, videos and special offers, further attracting new visitors to the website.

Building an Opt-In List

After a solid content strategy has been established, a business needs to effectively market its content to start building a solid email database.

Here are two ways to do this:

Ask People to Subscribe
By promising to deliver relevant industry news, insights or promotions, a business can get visitors to opt into its marketing communications (with can’t-miss calls-to-action, of course). When asking prospects to sign up, though, it’s important to make it easy to do so. In other words, place forms in highly visible, upfront places on a website, like the homepage, the main page of a blog, and the ‘About Us’ page. Also, don’t ask for too much information at the start. Instead, ask for the bare minimum, such as only a prospect’s email address.

Require a Subscription
Another way to build an email database is to “gate” the premium content offers that a business has created. By gating content, a business requires visitors to submit demographic information via a form prior to delivering that content. This is a very effective way to grow a database; however, it’s crucial that a business has the remarkable content that it promises to deliver.

Creating an email database of valuable, loyal recipients demands more than just putting a sign-up form on a website.

Creating an email database of valuable, loyal recipients—those who are receptive to receiving emails and respond with interest—demands more than just putting a sign-up form on a website. The key is to approach email list-building from as many angles as possible—within email marketing, on a business’s website, on social media channels, on blogs and beyond. As a business grows its list with fresh, opt-in contacts, it will be able to nurture them and convert early-stage leads into sales-ready leads.