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From the author of How to Ask for Names

How to Ask for Names

It takes a bit of skill to get a complete stranger to agree to receive what some might perceive as annoying email messages. Just saying “give us your email address” probably won’t cut it.

Instead, you’ll probably need to provide customers some benefit for sharing their contact information. In other words, you may have to bribe people to give you their email addresses. Such is the way of the world.

What can you offer someone in exchange for their permission to receive your emails? Here's a short list:

  • More information. Some consumers are information-hungry; tell them you’ll feed them more product and company info when they sign up. This can include new product announcements, product updates, and so forth.
  • Technical support. If you charge for support, you might offer a few months of free support (or a few free tech support calls).
  • Deals and specials. This may take the form of weekly product specials, notice of upcoming sales, and the like.
  • Free access to otherwise-paid information, such as archival content. (This works well for news sites and other sites offering valuable content.)
  • A discount on their next order.
  • A free gift of some sort.

You can also, of course, try to convince people that the emails themselves are of value. The best way to do this is to show them or tell them about what they'll be getting. Talk about the benefits of subscribing to your email mailings, tell them what they'll receive and how often. You can even link to a sample mailing or to past mailings so they'll see for themselves what you send out.

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