Can I have your email address please?

If you plan to use email as a way to communicate with your customers and grow your business, make sure you begin with a plan on how to collect email addresses from your customers.  

First make sure you are clear on how you will use the email addresses and the benefit to your customers for providing an email address to you.   I’m happy to give my email address to someone that I want to contact me and where I see a value in the future interaction.   I will also give my email address when I think there may be something I want – and then opt out if I don’t see that benefit emerge. 

Ask your customers to provide their email address at the Point of Sale.  When you ask, make sure that you tell your clients the value they will receive.  I was standing in line at a retailer recently as I listened to the salesperson telling the customers that she needed their email to clean up the list.  As a customer, cleaning the retailer list is of no value to me.  But ensuring that your customers receive pre-notice of special sales does articulate the value.  Don’t fail to teach the value statements to all of your sales teams!

Also, make sure you collect email address at your website.  Using landing pages for your marketing campaigns where you can request an email address to receive a special offer.  Collect the email address when a prospect downloads a whitepaper, or to accesses an online printable coupon, etc.  There is instant value to the customer for providing the email address to you.  But keep the request simple – a nice short form to complete works.  Trying to collect too much information can turn off the prospect. 

Finally, as you use the emails you have collected, make sure to use the tools available to you to keep your list current by managing bouncebacks and opt outs.  Email is a tool to build a relationship and using the email address appropriately and responsibly will ensure that you build those relationships.