It's not hard to build permission-based lists. It only takes common sense and a minor dedication to your methods. The good news is that technology can automate the process. Paper and pen work, too. And when the two worlds meet, you have even more power!
Use Those Sign Up Boxes!
A good email marketing company can provide you with one of these - basically HTML code
that you copy and paste into your website, social network page or anywhere else you're on the net. People see a box that they can easily use to sign up for your newsletters. Because a verification email is sent, your list is double opt-in and considered to be the best kind of list.
Place Buttons or Links to Your Sign Up Box
If you often visit forums, participate in social networking or are active in places where you can't place the code for your box, put a link to it whenever you can.
Don't Let Your List Go Stale
A good rule of thumb is six months. Even if you built your list the correct way, a person might forget that they have subscribed to your newsletter. They might hit that spam button. A person that may have been gung-ho on receiving any and all of your marketing in January might have forgotten all about you if you wait until September to make your first contact, even changing opinion and regarding your delayed newsletter as completely unsolicited. At this point, the term "permission" gives way to "expectation." If they didn't wake up expecting your email, you might be intruding into their perceived personal space.
Hold a Subscription Drive
Hold a subscription drive for your clients at your brick & mortar or online store. Use a form with a check box that they can fill in showing that they agree to become a subscriber. Keep copies of all your opt-in forms just in case you get hit with a spam complaint later. If you want to sign up lots of people in one shot, offer some sort of incentive like a discount or giveaway.
Promote Your Newsletter in Other Newsletters
Many industry related email newsletters
feature some advertising space for other publications. For instance, if you run a camping equipment store, you might want to promote your email newsletter in any email focusing on the great outdoors.
Frequent Trade Shows
You can find lots of people who have similar interests all in one place. Shake hands, say hello, and kindly ask for permission to send your new contact a newsletter. If you didn't get written permission to add them to your list, make sure that you use the confirmed opt-in
method when you manually add them to your lists. Every new contact added this way gets an email with a link in it that they must click on to activate their subscription. A good rule of thumb is that if you get a business card at a trade show, immediately email them and ask them to confirm that they want to be on your bulk email list.