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Take a minute to think about all the times you’ve been asked to join an email list.

Now, think back to when you actually agreed to sign up.

What’s the difference?

For most people, signing up for a mailing list starts with an excellent customer experience. And there’s a good chance that experience comes from a positive interaction with your friendly and knowledgeable staff.

Your employees can deliver an unforgettable experience for your customers, but it’s up to you to train your staff to extend that interaction even further by collecting contact information.

Here are four easy-to-implement ways to get your staff involved in growing your email list:

1. Lead by example

This is one of the simplest and most effective management techniques out there. If you want your employees to see the importance of asking for email sign-ups, make sure you’re doing your part as well.

Putting in some effort and asking for email sign-ups yourself reinforces that your request is an ongoing priority, rather than an offhand request. They’ll follow your lead, and find it easier to make the ask after hearing a few examples first.

2. Train them how to make the ask

“Would you like to join our mailing list?” We’ve heard it so many times — it’s practically etched into our eardrums.

But imagine: A new customer walks into your secondhand store and is thrilled by your collection of vintage Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses. She and your employee spend a couple minutes expressing their mutual admiration for Furstenberg’s bold and timeless prints, as your new customer makes their purchase.

Then, your staff member suggests: “If you want to know when we get new dresses in, you should sign up for our mailing list. We send updates about every two weeks to let you know what’s new in store. We also provide styling tips, and let you know about any major sales that we have, especially around the holidays.”

Isn’t that better?

You can make sure your staff is asking effectively by providing these tips:

  • Make the ask feel conversational: Move beyond the stale question at checkout. Instead see if you can find an opportunity to bring the mailing list up in conversation in a way that highlights its value.
  • Make it about them: When you’re helping a customer with a purchase, you’re learning about what products or services they’re is interested in. Use this information and tailor the ask to each customer so they can clearly understand what’s in it for them.
  • Set expectations: People will be more likely to sign up if they know what they’ll be receiving. Let them know what you’ll be sending and how often.

3. Provide an incentive

Now that your employees know how to ask, you need to motivate them to ask as many customers as possible. One of the best ways to do persuade them to take action is to hold a competition and provide an incentive.

Print out a new sign-up sheet for your store, this time with a “Who helped you?” column where contacts can reference a particular employee. Nail down the details like how long the competition will run and what the prize will be. For example, whoever collects the most email sign-ups in the month of July will receive a $25 gift card to the local ice cream shop.

You can choose the terms that you think will work best for your work environment. If you’re worried about having your employees compete against each other, switch the rules to something different, like every employee that collects 30 addresses in the month will receive two free movie tickets.

4. Remind them how to ask online

Not all your employees will be interacting with customers in person. Maybe your business specializes in personalized office supplies. A customer service employee receives an inquiry about discounts for bulk orders. After answering the question, your employee could also suggest they join the company mailing list to stay up-to-date on special offers.

In addition to encouraging employees to promote your mailing list in their communications, show them how to add a link to the sign-up page in their email signature. If they are active on social media and are already sharing your business’s content, be sure to provide them with drafted social media posts promoting your mailing list that they can share with their audience as well.

It never hurts to ask…

Not everyone you ask to join your mailing list will take you up on your offer, but if you don’t ask you’ll be missing out on a valuable opportunity to stay connected with them.

Remember that your employees can be some of your most valuable marketing assets. Encourage them to grow your mailing list by:

  • Leading by example,
  • Training them to make a strong ask,
  • Motivating them with an incentive, and
  • Reminding them to ask online

Want to see how 15 small businesses were successful in growing their contact list. Here are 15 creative ideas you can try in your store!