email marketingA good email contact list is an essential component of any successful digital marketing plan, and it’s important to keep it growing. After all, today’s new, fresh contact is tomorrow’s potential customer. Fortunately, there are lots of free or low cost ways to build up your email list — and yes, the majority of them are white hat tactics. Here are six effective ways to grow your email marketing list that have worked for many businesses. Chances are, they’ll work for yours as well.

1. Offer incentives. Consumers are savvy, and they want to know what’s in it for them. They’re not likely to give up something — including their email address — without getting something in return. So, give them an incentive to sign up for your email list. The promise of valuable information available only to subscribers, a discount on their first purchase, or access to a members only part of your website are all good trades for most consumers.

2. Hold a contest. Everyone wants to win something, so give new subscribers a chance to do just that. To enter, all they have to do is provide their email address. The prize could be anything related to your company: free merchandise, a gift certificate, or something else that’s highly desirable and has value to consumers. Regular contests (quarterly, or even monthly) for new subscribers are great ways to continually build up your list.

3. Have a clear call to action across multiple channels. Often, clear cut instructions are the best strategy to getting results. So, tell people to sign up for your email list. Post reminders on your business’s Facebook page, tweet about it on Twitter, make it part of your company’s YouTube channel, and of course, put it on your webpage. Don’t forget the link to the sign-up form!

4. Make it part of your online advertising. If your company buys online ads, it’s not a bad idea to invest in the expansion of your email marketing list with a few specific ads aimed at doing just that. Create ads that go to a landing page with a sign-up form. This method obviously isn’t free, but it can get your company’s name in some new places and generate interest among some new consumers.

5. KISS. (Keep it simple, sweetie.) Once you’ve got your visitor to your marketing sign-up form, keep things simple to close the deal and just ask for their email address. Having to answer a million questions is a huge turn off, and the sight of lots of blank fields is likely to drive some people away. Plus, consumers are often wary about giving out their phone number and home address to businesses unless they absolutely have to. Besides, all you really need is their email address, right?

6. Don’t forget the importance of face time. No, not the iOS app — actually seeing people face to face! Whether you’re at a conference, a trade show, or another public event, have a sign-up sheet where people can give you an email address. (OK, you can make it a Google form on a laptop or iPad.) You want to make sure you’ll be able to stay in touch with the people you meet.

Building your email marketing list is a process, and just one approach isn’t likely give you all of the email addresses you want. It’s really best to use several tactics to expand your marketing list to a respectable and profitable size. No, you won’t have a robust list overnight, but give these ideas some time, and you’ll likely be rewarded with a lot of new contacts that are also potential customers.