The effort you put into building your email list is one of the best investments you can make online. Having access to the inboxes of targeted prospects means you can continue to build and nurture relationships over time, and become a trusted source of valuable industry knowledge. Then, when it’s time for your prospects to buy, you’ll be the first one who comes to mind. 

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Before people hand over their email address, you’re going to have to offer them something enticing in exchange. This could be a free eBook, access to a Webinar, or the promise of discounts or deals exclusively for your subscribers. You could even repurpose some of your existing blog content and turn it into a guide or resource list. Whatever you decide to offer, just make sure it’s something people will recognize as holding true value!

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You might be doing all the right things to generate leads -- landing pages, gated content, contests, and more. The problem might be that the design or copy itself isn't driving the engagement you need. A/B test (also known as "split test") different aspects of your list-building campaigns with different versions of the same content. This includes the call-to-action text, the color of the gated offer, the time of day you're posting to social media, and even where on your website these signup forms are placed. Sometimes a small change can drive hundreds more conversions.

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Tip: Align the timing of your pop-up form with the average amount of time a visitor spends on your website. Set the form to appear immediately (or with a 5-second delay) if people aren’t inclined to spend much time on your site. If visitors have a tendency to browse, consider a 20-second delay or a scroll-based trigger when someone reaches the middle or bottom of your page.

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Visitors to your website might overlook the call to sign up that you have at the top of every page, but it’s harder to ignore a lightbox or pop-up. Scroll boxes pop up on visitors’ screens after they’ve scrolled down a certain length of the page. The box encourages them to sign up for your email list. They can be effective for encouraging a user who’s already shown interest in your content (by staying on the page long enough to scroll) to sign up for your email list.

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Offer a reward for customers who buy something from you and show that they checked in at your business on Foursquare using their mobile device. When they do this, they’re telling everyone in their network that they’ve done business with you. Each month, reward the person who gave you the greatest exposure by offering a discount, and asking for their email address.

When you meet people face to face for any reason, ask for their business card. Offer yours. Set a glass bowl on the counter in your store or the reception desk in your office, and ask visitors to drop their cards in it. Offer some incentive to do so — a free product or service, gift card, etc. Use your own business cards to further drum up emails; add an offer on the back of your card that encourages people to sign up to receive your emails.

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Your email list, on the other hand, is yours, free and clear. Using your website and social media to attract visitors and followers, and then encouraging them to sign up for your email list gives you the opportunity to contact your prospects at any point in the future, with any kind of messaging you want; and you’re not bound by search engine rankings or social media algorithms.

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Offline events like trade shows are highly anticipated growth opportunities for professionals in your industry. Demo your latest product at an appropriate conference and collect signups in-person. Once you're back at the office, import these signups into your contact database. Be sure to send these contacts a welcome email that confirms their opt-in to your list. (See #8 in this blog post for tips on sending welcome emails.)

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