You must never purchase lists and mail to them – this is what most people would call Unsolicited Commercial Email (aka spam). Legitimate email service providers and Internet service providers prohibit this type of list from being sent from their networks.
That’s not to say that I endorse this as a business practice. I don’t. BUT, it does show that relevance may trump permission when it comes to email marketing. And it’s pretty darn hard to buy a list outright and be anything close to relevant to all of the recipients.
The fact is, email clients like Gmail, Yahoo and Hotmail don’t consider purchased lists or lists given to you by a third party to be opt-in, at all. They call it unsolicited bulk/commercial email. If the people you’re emailing did not directly sign up with you (and only you!) then it’s considered unsolicited.

If you own an ecommerce store, you have most definitely tried having products in your shop that are out of stock. It’s never a good thing, is it? Retailers lose an estimated $93 billion in annual sales because of out of stock inventory.
If you don’t already blog, you should! Blog posts help you increase your ranking on search engines like Google, and allow you collect blog subscribers that you can then upgrade to more actionable email campaigns over time.
From a legal standpoint, it’s very risky. From an ethical standpoint, it’s shady and pretty much guarantees that you’re doing to have a high rate of unsubscribes and spam complaints (which are much worse) since the subscribers do not have a prior relationship with your organization.
People enjoy offering feedback on information that pertains to them. On certain pages of your website, include a form that asks visitors what questions they might have about your business. You might also create a live chat tool that invites questions and email addresses from people who have stayed on your website for a certain amount of time.
In the midst of your “junk” mail, one particular piece catches your eye, one advertising a techno gadget you’ve had your eye on for a while. And there’s a sale on it—all you have to do is enter the following code on the website…
Also working with a list provider, you identify a segment of people to email — but you never actually own the list. As such, you can’t see the email addresses of the people you’re emailing, so you must work with the provider to send out your email.
If you have a brick-and-mortar presence where you interact with customers face-to-face, create an email campaign just for those walk-ins. Launch a store membership they can sign up for via email at the register. This is a smart way to keep in touch with repeat customers and reward their loyalty to your product.
Sign up for a direct marketing course to better understand the cardinal principles of direct: have a clear and simple marketing objective, get a laser focus on list and offer, be benefit not feature centric, create multi-touch points, test and tweak campaigns.
We recently passed the 20,000 mark for subscribers on the Buffer blog, and it’s safe to say we have a lot to learn to grow a successful list. We’re inspired to learn from some of the smart and well regarded sites who have made email an emphasis. For example:
Now that you’ve seen the many different ways to grow an email list, I’d love to show you how some of the top sites implement these ideas. Here is what I found when browsing around some of my favorite sources of email inspiration.
The great thing about CTA’s are that you can change them for free – they are all yours, and it’s your imagination that sets the limit. You will probably spend some time coming up with the best CTA’s, but I guarantee you it’ll be worth it!
Building a list of valid email addresses is definitely the best way to ensure quality, but it takes time. Historically this has been difficult to achieve, but nowadays new channels make it easier to build prospect pools or identify fresh data to introduce to your customer database.
Explain to them that if they collect emails, they will be able to send out tailored offers and thereby make the customers return to the store. That will make it clear to the staff why emails are valuable – not only for you but their business as well.
REALLY GETTING THE LIST YOU REQUESTED: Is this really an affluent email list? Is this really an email list of seniors? One way to verify your email list is with a basic Demographic Enhancement Report. Send us a random sample of your email list, and we’ll provide you with a detail Demographic Report ($199) … which will show the age, income, gender, net worth, and other demographic profile of your list. Of course other analytical vendors provide the same report.
Direct marketing is a form of advertising where organizations communicate directly to customers through a variety of media including cell phone text messaging, email, websites, online adverts, database marketing, fliers, catalog distribution, promotional letters, and targeted television, newspaper, and magazine advertisements, as well as outdoor advertising. Among practitioners, it is also known as direct response.
Get creative. Since every business is different, some of the strategies in this guide might not work for your business if you implement them exactly as described. However, most of what’s described can work for a large majority of businesses with just a few tweaks. In some cases, you might even get greater results than the people who wrote these posts.
Through mobile marketing, marketers engage with prospective customers and donors in an interactive manner through a mobile device or network, such as a cellphone, smartphone, or tablet. Types of mobile marketing messages include: SMS (short message service)—marketing communications are sent in the form of text messages, also known as texting. MMS (multi-media message service)—marketing communications are sent in the form of media messages.
You may append telephone numbers to your mailing list by selecting Mail with Telemarketing Follow-up. You can purchase a telemarketing file that includes only the contact name and phone number without confirmed addresses. Mail-only files do not contain phone numbers.
Your tip about CTA’s really hit the spot. I’ve been noticing that some of our competitors are using wordy yet highly specific buttons like ‘Get My Free Consultation Now!’ or ‘See Other Works From ____’. I was skeptic at first, but reading your logic behind it, it makes sense. I’m looking forward to implementing this on my own sites. Thank you, Brian.
I love the fact that my mass emails can be highly personalized and still look like regular emails, vs. emails from Constant Contact etc. I can also go into the HTML code and tweak things if they are not right. We use Amazon Web Service SES which is very affordable. A great product for those who have reasonable computer skills to set everything up.
With all that said, your signup form should be put at the place where it’s clearly visible, give a solid reason to subscribe, promise an irresistible offer that can take right away, and reassure them with the privacy statement.
90+ PERCENT DELIVERY RATE – EXTREMELY IMPORTANT: Why is my email response rate so low? The ISPs (Gmail, Yahoo, etc) will block “good-deliverable” email addresses … or divert to SPAM box … if the “good” email addresses are associated with an email blast that includes a lot of bad email addresses. This blocking of good email addresses is why an email blast to 1,000,000 names can literally have zero responses. Using an email list that is less than 90% deliverable … will result in your good email addresses being blocked … thus making the email campaign futile. Demand a 90+ percent email delivery rate … or “money refund.”
Awesome stuff. I am using aweber and optimise press at the moment. What software would you recommend to create capture pages like the ones you’ve showcased above? I might of missed it if you mentioned it.. Will definitely test the pop-up opt-in.
Why not inform the visitor, that “the selected product is unfortunately out of stock, but why don’t we get back to you once it’s back?”. You can then ask for their email address and send them a notification once the product is back in stock.