Any time you send promotional e-mail messages (a.k.a. e-mail marketing) to someone without their permission, you are a spammer. Yes, you!

You join that shady group of people who try to sell us designer rip-offs, cheap pharmaceuticals and sex sites.

Buying lists doesn’t make it better. Nor does using the membership directory of an association you joined, unless members give explicit permission for that to happen when they join. That is not very common. In fact, many associations salt their directory with phony listings just to catch spammers.

But, you say, you still need to have as many eyeballs as possible reading your message. I want to challenge that attitude. Wouldn’t it be better if the people receiving your message are the people who WANT to receive it? Qualified prospects are a lot easier to convert than the random people you reach by adding spam to their inbox. Personally, I have a policy of not doing business with someone who spams me. If those are their tactics to get my business, I question how they would treat as a customer.

The question then becomes, how do you get more qualified people on your e-mailing marketing contact list if you need their permission first?

Ask them. It’s that simple. Here are five strategies for growing your e-mail marketing campaign:

  1. Ask at all networking events you attend
  2. Ask visitors to your web site (give them a simple sign up form)
  3. Ask when you make sales calls
  4. Ask your current subscribers to ask other people for you: make it easy to forward subscription details to people they know
  5. Ask in your marketing literature.

But remember, you need to give subscribers value in return for them saying yes to letting you into their inbox. It may be information about sales or special offers, updates and success stories or it may be useful tips and tricks (which can also show of your expertise).

In the end, you will find that those people who are on your mailing list are more open to receiving your message and more likely to respond positively. And that’s what e-mail marketing is all about.

What do you think? Join the conversation.