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A friend of mine asked me recently “how do I get my email lists going?”.  He knew he needed to get his message out to more people, but wondered how you go about building up your own lists without buying in any data? Not only is this a common question from start-ups and small businesses, but often one asked when clients of ours have established email programs where their list size may be stagnating or even shrinking. I had also just finished reading this excellent article on the same subject over at which inspired some thoughts here.

A great phrase I can borrow (doffing my cap to Tim Watson, Email Consultant, in the process) is don’t fall in to the trap of “FIRE! AIM! READY!” which is often what people do when they realise they need email addresses. That is to say, put together the plan of what you want to try to achieve first before going about implementing any random new scheme to collect addresses.

One of the fine people you’ll find on Word To The Wise, Laura Atkins (one of the people in the email world I respect the most) – says “Have all your emails, templates, offers and processes in place before you collect your first email address.” When doing so, there’s some key things most people don’t do and then regret it. Below you’ll find a list of all the points I chatted to my friend about – some through experience and others I gathered from a variety of sources from around the industry. Hopefully it will get your cogs turning too!

So assuming you’re rocking these four things, what’s next?

Right, that was enough to get my friend started list building. What about you? Would be great to hear your ideas on how to build a list organically.

Steve Denner