Plummer Cobb is a writer and communications consultant based in Arlington, Texas.

A Simple, 3-Pronged Approach to Building Your Email List at Events

A Simple, 3-Pronged Approach to Building Your Email List at Events

Whether on-site at your business, at an event your company is hosting, at your convention or festival booth, when you encounter potential customers in person, you have a chance to add them to your email subscriber list. At that time, you might be tempted to rely on the old pen-and-paper sign up list.

The problem with pen-and-paper email sign-ups is that someone then has to go enter those addresses, and all too often, that process gets put off until a later date, when the subscribers themselves may not even recall signing up for the list. Or, they miss out on the communications you’ve been sending in the time between writing down their email address and actually getting that first email from you.

Below are three ways you can collect email addresses at events more easily, efficiently, and with better long-term outcomes. I recommend trying all three of the methods below and then adjusting your approach as you gather more data about subscribers and which methods work best for your customers or attendees. 

Tablet Form - Have subscribers enter their email address directly into a tablet form. Personally, I love MailChimp’s easy-to-use MailChimp Subscribe tablet form, which is a cinch to set up and also offers a QR code option (see below). Be sure to place the tablet where it is visible and easily accessible. You can set up the tablet at single location or have someone working the crowd with tablet in hand (not being too pushy, of course).

Printout of a QR Code or Short URL - Display a QR code (using a QR-code generator like this one) or a short-URL link (using Bit.ly or similar service) that takes subscribers directly to the sign-up form. Make sure these are visible and easily accessible. Print one (or both) on a poster, or pass out sheets of paper or business cards with the code or URL on them.

Social Media - If you are actively engaged in social media at the event (using Periscope, live-Tweeting, posting real-time pictures on Instagram, etc.), be sure to include the link to your sign-up form. This has the added benefit of grabbing some subscribers from among the people following an event online. (And because social media feeds move quickly, you may need to repost the link multiple times during the event.) 

Warning: If your goal is to build your email list, make sure your links are taking people directly to the sign-up form, not just sending them to your website. Directing them to your website can work, but it adds a step that will drastically reduce sign-ups. If you insist on sending customers or event attendees to your website, make sure the form is one of the first things visitors see, tell them exactly where to find the sign-up form on the page, or have the form set as a pop-up.  

4 Characteristics of Effective Email List-Building at Events

4 Characteristics of Effective Email List-Building at Events

Copywriting Critique: Microcopy at a Self-Checkout Kiosk