Creating a list of your customers personal email addresses is a good way to keep in touch with those very important people, but just how do you get them to part with their personal data in an age where that information is becoming such a personal and in most cases vital part of their daily lives?

It used to be the case that a website could simply ask visitors to their sight to ‘sign up’ to receive updates. But the public is wising up to exactly what they are giving away.

Emails touch almost every part of our lives, from banking, to shopping, to leisure activities and holidays, and that’s without thinking about all of the promotional emails that are sent every day. Simply asking for an email address is not really an option anymore. There needs to be an exchange of information. The business needs to provide something of value for that personal information.

If you want to keep in touch with your customers then you need to give them something they need – for free! Yes, you will need to sacrifice a bit of your expertise to gain the trust of someone, enough that they will allow you to email them. Sounds fair right?

So what can you give away? Well as long as it solves a problem or a need that your customers have, then it can be pretty much anything, but the simplest way to provide that information is written. For example:

You have a clothes shop, you can ask for your site visitors email address in return for telling them about the top 5 looks for the coming season.

You are a plumber, you can explain what a household can do to prevent pipes from freezing during cold weather.

You own a garden centre, so tell people about the best way to keep different types of flowers in peak health.

You have a beauty salon, give tips on the best products to use to create a particular look.

Giving information away makes receiving an email address much more of an achievable objective. But why give this information away at all? Surely people will just start doing these things for themselves and using your information to avoid having to pay for, well your services.

Consider this, have you ever tried to decorate a cake that you have seen a picture of, or make a dress because you got the pattern from somewhere, or apply some tanning products to give yourself a lovely glow, or fix that part in your car because it looks so simple using the instructions? Most people have. But even with that information, those things are often a lot harder than they appear.

Giving away information also provides proof that you are an expert at what you do. Sure, you can tell someone the best way to cut a fringe into their hair, but they will get the perfect cut if they come and have it done by a professional hairdresser.

Don’t be afraid to give a lot of value upfront in exchange for being able to have a conversation over a much longer time frame with the people that sign up to receive your emails.