6 Tools Local Merchants Can Use to Grow Their Email Lists

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Email marketing is cheap and it’s effective, but it isn’t always easy for small businesses. For local merchants, the toughest part about email marketing can be generating a list of engaged subscribers. According to a survey published by Ascend2 in 2015, 67% of businesses said growing their email list was “very important,” and 43% said list growth expertise is the most challenging obstacle to success.

Email marketing vendors like Constant Contact and Mailchimp are introducing tools to make it easier for merchants to increase the size of their lists, and a number of new players have stepped in with products aimed at achieving this same goal. Here are six examples of tools that merchants can use to grow their email lists.

1. Cidewalk: Capture email leads via mobile advertisements.
Cidewalk integrates with Constant Contact to help businesses promote themselves locally and grow their email subscriber lists via mobile advertisements. Merchants create ads that appear as banners across the bottom of popular mobile apps in their local regions (like Pandora and The Weather Channel). Customers who are interested in those ads are prompted to email the merchant directly. With Cidewalk’s new Constant Contact integration, which was announced in late 2015, these new email leads can be incorporated directly into Constant Contact workflows and added to prospect lists. Monthly subscriptions for Cidewalk start at $100 for up to 50,000 monthly impressions and two active promotions.

2. Wavelength: Find merchants with similar subscribers.
As a way to help its users grow their email lists more legitimately, the email marketing service MailChimp introduced an app called Wavelength in 2012. Wavelength allows MailChimp users to discover publishers like themselves and better understand their subscribers’ other passions. Businesses can view sample emails sent by those other publishers, and they can use those samples as inspiration for their own email campaigns. More importantly, businesses can contact publishers with similar subscriber lists and link to each other—typically, with ads in each other’s newsletters—for organic list growth. MailChimp offers free plans for businesses with up to 2,000 subscribers.

3. Exact Data: Purchase geo-targeted lists for email marketing campaigns.
Exact Data offers direct marketing services and provides businesses with email marketing solutions. Using the 242 million records in Exact Data’s business-to-consumer database, brick-and-mortar merchants can build geo-targeted lists for their email marketing programs. These lists can be filtered by zip code, marketing channel, market type (business or consumer), demographics, and keywords. Exact Data says its lists are validated and run through a proprietary hygiene process prior to list turnover. Exact Data can also deploy email marketing campaigns from its whitelisted servers. Merchants can contact Exact Data for pricing information.

4. Square: Collect email addresses at the register.
In its ongoing effort to become a full-service shop for small business owners, Square added new email marketing tools to its platform last spring. Businesses can now capture customer contact information right from the register. Once the customer’s contact information has been added, all information from subsequent visits—like purchase histories or transaction amounts—is automatically added to the business’ customer directory. This data can then be used to target specific groups with email newsletters designed around their interests or spending habits. Square’s tools for growing email subscriber lists are available for free.

5. iCapture: Let customers enter their own data at the POS.
Brick-and-mortar merchants can use iCapture to collect customer email addresses at the point-of-sale. iCapture turns any iPad, iPhone, or Android device into a tool for capturing leads. Businesses create their own forms with custom logos and fields using iCapture’s Back Office software. They can then open iCapture’s customer-facing app on whichever devices they’re using in-store to let customers enter their own contact information. (Typically, this happens on a tablet displayed next to the register.) The captured data is retrievable at any time. Businesses also have the option to setup auto-reply emails or map their data to one of iCapture’s integration partners. Pricing plans start at $10 per month, paid annually.

6. Privy: Take advantage of existing websites and social media pages.
Seventy-five percent of SMBs now have websites. Privy is a tool that helps businesses use their existing websites and social media accounts to grow their email lists. Privy uses a Javascript website widgets and mobile-friendly landing pages, combined with intelligent targeting, to encourage online visitors to share their email addresses. Geo-fencing tools are available to ensure businesses are only collecting email addresses from potential customers who live or work nearby. Local merchants can also use Privy’s in-store offers to incentivize customers to join email lists and visit their brick-and-mortar stores. Privy offers a free plan for small businesses.

Know of other tools that small and mid-size businesses can use to grow their email lists? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.