local media insider

More tips on growing e-mail lists faster

Alisa Cromer

As advertisers are more interested in promotions and local media embark on new business models,  more e-mail registrations mean more dollars. Most local media companies, however, don't collect as much data on their visitors as they can.Here are ten of the speediest ways to grow e-mail lists and the data that can be collected with these addresses.

1. Giveaways
A standard way to acquire an e-mail list is to give something away. The simple rule of thumb when trying to gather data on web users is that bigger the prize, the more personal information your audience is willing to give up. Look for great prizes that allow your orgnization to collect data all the time.

One promotion that filled the list right away was a Freedom Newspapers promotion which acquired 15,000 app downloads - and thus email registrations - for a news app in Orange County by partnering with the local Honda Dealer on a car give away.

2. Contests
Some media companies have regular contests - up to one a month - from cutest baby to best fishing photo. The beauty of contests is that they allow media companies to collect data not just from entrants, but also voters solicited by contestants - and by the site. This is another opportunity to ask for an opt-in for other offers, or collect data that allows you to segment the list in to male/female, zip code and so on.

There are any number of contests on this site including Fantasy Hockey, a Kitchen Makeover Contest,and a Shop Local Video contest that are primarily revenue generators. But for massive data collection Cutest Babies and Cutest Pets are a sure bet. Don't miss the opportunity to collect additional data on contestants, not only valuable for next year's sponsors, but also for building out a central database.

3. Pop-up registrations

Putting up a registration wall, or simple “pop-up” box that requires simple registration to continue, is a great way to build out a database and e-mail opt-in. Since this is a blocking mechanism, these registrations are usually simple, ie name, zip code and email should be enough. The more premium the area, the more the company can ask visitors to give back, in return for entering the area. The rule of thumb is to treat pop-up resgistrations a little like paywalls, protecting entry to premium content such as sports or exclusive news coverage.

4. Opt-ins
Identify static positions on the site to collect opt-ins all the time for editorial emails and commercial offers in general. DailyDeals already has an opt-in list, but don't miss opportunities to capture opt-ins for weather and political alerts. People who "opt-in" and who, therefore, want the media company knowing their preferences and may be wiling to select from a variety of check boxes. Consistent promotions for "one unbelievable deal a day" was a key way that Groupon built its email list, for example.

The best practice here is to include the opportunity to opt-in to newsletters or deals in as many places as possible, including at the end of stories. Make an inventory of all the places on the site where these promotions will go.

Gathering emails and then sending unsolicited messages will label your company as a spammer. So make sure people who opt-in for a particular message are not sent types of messages they did not choose .

5.Text-message opt-ins
Text-message opt-ins are a special category with much higher engagement, but since this is more personal, much more care should be taken to acquire exactly and only exactly, what visitors want to receive.

Traditionally, visitors will opt-in receive text-based alerts for breaking news alerts, school closings, and traffic. This is a place there you can also ask them to opt-in for commercial text messages. If you can categorize the users out by what they are interested in, even better; start by with asking if they are interested in opting into a list for offers from restaurants/bars and local retail offers.

6. Buying lists, trading, partnering

It is perfectly acceptable, for media companies and advertisers to purchase or exchange lists and many companies have done this successfully. Pay attention to the spam and privacy laws (see below) but within those limitations there may be additional opportunities. One of the best ways to obtain ists is offer to build e-mail databases for advertisers as a service, or for a specific promotion, in which the data is co-owned.

7. Collect from registrations and ads on your own site

If your media company is selling e-mail collection on landing pages supplied to the advertiser, it is another opportunity to acquire audience data as long as the privacy laws are respected. Therefore, someone who registers for a free meal at a restaurant via the landing page of a banner ad becomes part of the media company's database - and they are valuable so they converted. Add co-ownership language into standard advertising agreements.

8. Scrape company emails - and the advertiser database

This takes a little bit of finesse, but company e-mails belong to the company, and therefore can be scraped from time to time - once or twice a year - to  add to the database of people who know your company and have been in contact with it from time to time. Fair warning, of course to the employees, who may be conducting private affairs on the company email. But with larger organizations these names can add up to a very attentive group of people. Think of hundreds of emails into the editorial department alone.

Similarily, don't forget that advertisers and prospects are local people, too, who have a relationship with your company and may be interested in your discounts, or other promotions. Make sure that acquiring an e-mail from prospects and advertisers is standard procedure.

Likewise, don't forget the claimed listings in directory databases and classifieds - these are also  people who already have a relationship with your company.

9. Building more data
There is some data which is standard, such key demographics, age, zip code and gender, but there are also additional ways to add household income, profession, number of children in the home etc. One way is to create promotion sponsored by an advertiser that will help them build out a key demographic profile. Agree to share the profile at the end of the contest or promotion, and to allow one “offer” they can use to acquire the email opt-in themselves.

10. Don't forget mobile

People who register for an app provide a new opportunity to collect an opt-in for other kinds of information. Mobile pop-ups also provide a chance to obtain a registration.

Finally, know your state's privacy and SPAM laws
Often a great promotion gets killed because there is confusion over the privacy laws and spam laws and how spam ratings work, and as a result, its easier not to risk it. Even worse, being rated as spam will kill your e-mail drives. So know your laws, they differ from state to state. Sending an email message the user list doesn’t feel is targeted to them runs the risk of a significant opt-out as well as an increased spam rating. Text-based opt-ins, since they are much harder to get, are that much more painful to lose via an ill-timed or mis-matched message. Building lists slowly and strategically with the proper permissions in place and will results in more value and a higher return to your advertisers.

Jane Bogue is an independent digital media consultant out of Wells ME. Her company, Wilbur’s Point Media, develops digital sales training and revenue strategies for traditional and digital publishers. She can be reached at jane@wilburspointmedia.com or 207-337-4313.

Alisa Cromer

The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and  MediaExecsTech,  developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine,  to showcases perspectives from around the  world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.

email, promotions, database, jane bogue