We recently had a project where a new person that was new to websites and marketing in general was now in charge of the client's website and email marketing initiatives.
They started with an innocent and pointed question about gathering email addresses...
"Why can't I spam out email newsletters? Seriously, I receive spam all the time so why can't we do the same thing?"
They continued by asking us to "... just capture the email address of every website visitor. I don't want them to have to sign up for it, we wouldn't get 1 or 2 a month that way!"
Asking that “I just want to capture the email addresses of every visitor” that comes by your site is like saying “I want to know the names of every person who has a car in our parking lot.” Unless you poll people coming in and out of the parking lot, there’s no way to tell just by seeing their cars parked.
There is no system of the internet that allows you to have the email address of each person that views your website by them just visiting the site in a browser.
Now, there are systems where you can track the IP address of each person that visits the website and then much later when they eventually sign up for something and enter their email address, you can track that user back to all their previous interactions… but that’s something for stats and CRM, not for building email subscribers.
For a user to put their email address into your newsletter subscription list, the user must fill out and enter their email address. AND that act alone is not enough to permanently have them on an email subscription list, they must “Double Opt-In” and click a subscribe or confirmation link in a first email they receive from your list. Only then can you send mail to them without “spamming”. There are also all kinds of other rules regarding the full disclosure of contact info and instant ability to unsubscribe in multiple ways that must be supported.
Learn about email marketing
If that’s not familiar to you, then you need to learn more about the CANN SPAM Compliance Act which penalizes businesses for spamming and guides the regulation of how email marketing systems like MailChimp and others vet the email lists that accounts post to their systems.
Build a good email subscriber list
If your end goal is to get a good list of addresses that you can send out email to, then there are several ways to go about that, but the core of it is to begin gathering your own email addresses in a natural, organic way vs buying or renting them. Ultimately you need to have people sign up for your email list and then begin providing regular releases of quality content to build up a following and subscriber base.
A few ideas to build a list:
- Have a contest in the publications, mail campaigns, etc. that encourage signup
- Have pay-wall type content behind login that is worth people signing up for and ask them to maintain subscription to get to this content (such as job postings, trader board, materials they’d want to download, etc)
- Make arrangements with partner organizations to send one welcome/signup email to their list of users to get new people to subscribe
- Attend or sponsor tradeshows / events in which you get a list of all the email addresses of attendees and send them a welcome/subscribe email
- Rent/purchase lists from different email / prospect list companies and send those users one welcome/signup email to get new users
- Become members of different industry organizations in which you are allowed to promote by banner ad/or tag-along email or perhaps that allow you to send one welcome/signup email
Ultimately, though, if you are newly getting into the arena of email marketing, then you need to understand the rules and penalties that are around if you are spamming users. It can be worse than just unsubscribes. Be sure to learn about email marketing online or attend a seminar to help get you started!
The following are just a few links and articles to get you started: