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The best way to expand your email list

Adam Covati
The best way to expand your email list Adam Covati

Are you looking for a good way to grow your list? Let's be honest, who isn't? Forward to a friend is an important feature to include in your email to accomplish this. Although it usually doesn't provide a wealth of clicks -- often times only between 0.1 and 2 percent -- it does provide the opportunity to distribute your message further and expand your audience base with individuals of similar buying behavior, likes, dislikes, et cetera.

If a current subscriber is willing to pass along your information to a friend, it's valid endorsement for your company from a trusted source, essentially giving you an easier chance of gaining another subscriber or customer.

You may know forward to a friend by any of its other names, such as send to a friend or tell a friend. It's not a new feature, but it is still a valuable tool for finding new customers that bear a resemblance to your existing ones. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your forward-to-a-friend program.

Location, location, location
Just adding a forward-to-a-friend link in your email isn't enough; you will only get clicks if your recipients can find it. Often times, these links are placed at the bottom of your message, and this isn't a bad practice since many people look to find them there.

What about placing a link at the top of the message as well? Providing a forward-to-a-friend link above the fold will help raise visibility to this option. It can fit in well with a top navigational bar or even be placed in the top corner of your email for greater impact and visibility.

If your forwarding link is just text, it may work sufficiently in a menu of other links. However, when placed at the bottom of your message, you run the risk of it getting lost among legal disclaimers and links to privacy policies.

Make a visual splash
Making the link an eye-catching graphic can help as well. Be careful not to make it too catchy, as you don't want it competing with your main message. It should be more than just plain text for the reasons talked about above.

Here are some examples of forward-to-a-friend links from a few major name email newsletters and promos that stand out from the rest of the email.

Apply your theme
This can be taken a step further by incorporating your forward-to-a-friend link with a theme. eBags has been doing this for some time. It creates something a little more interesting and fun. Below you can see some examples of previous images the company used for its links.

Don't neglect the recipient
Including a forward-to-a-friend link in your email isn't enough; you need to properly introduce yourself to the new prospect in the forwarded message. This is your chance to persuade the person to sign up for your list.

Including some text identifying that this has been forwarded from the recipient's friend may help pique his interest, "John Harvard ([email protected]) thought you'd be interested in this message from us." This is the first step in building your new relationship: Start from a position of trust.

You also have room for a few lines to introduce your mailing. This isn't the time or place for flashy calls to action, coupons or sales pitches. Use this opportunity to communicate information about the content and frequency of your messages. The final item is the intro, and most important, a signup link. Always be sure to give the recipient an easy route to get on your list.

Keeping this simple is very important; you need to let your email do the talking. John thought this was valuable enough to send along, the new prospect should see the value, too.

Content is king
I can't stress enough that at the end of the day, it's not how pretty your link is, where you place it or how easy the sign up process is, but rather how compelling your content is. If you provide quality, relevant content, then your recipients will be more likely to pass it along, and those friends will see the value in joining your list. So while you should put some thought into your forward-to-a-friend program, never forget that relevant content is of paramount importance.

Adam Covati is a product manager at Bronto Software. Read full bio.


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