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Welcome to the latest edition of my new weekly blog series, “Free Marketing Ideas”. Each week I will identify and explain a simple marketing idea that you can employ at low or no cost. Last week’s topic was Develop a Referral Program.

This Week’s Topic = Start an Email List

Anyone who had ready my blog in the past knows that I am a big proponent of email marketing. And getting started with email is one of the best free marketing ideas you’ll ever hear. Here’s why:

The first step to start an email marketing campaign is to start putting a list together. This is easy. And it allows you to do many different things.

To start a list, all you need to do is create a simple signup form somewhere on your website (or in store). If you’re using an email marketing tool like iContact or Constant Contact, they will have tools to help you plug their own signup form into your site. You can usually customize it, add fields aside from name and email that you want to keep in your list, and tell you exactly how to add it to your website.

Once the signup form is installed, you can start promoting it. Promote it in your Twitter feed, on your Facebook page, and from different sales channels on your website. Incentivize people to sign up by offering special sales or discounts, or promising free content that they would otherwise not get.

Make sure you are also collecting the emails of your customers as they purchase or become members. You can add them to your marketing list or create a separate list just for existing customers. Both of these channels will start to grow your reach as a company. Soon you’ll be able to announce new products, new sales, and new offers to a large database of emails.

Share your thoughts on this idea, and other free marketing ideas in the comments section below and keep the conversation going!