I’m going to the Traffic & Conversion Summit this week. I’m very excited! I’ve never been to this conference before and I’m looking forward to it. As always, I’ll go armed to promote myself and the company I’m working for. (In this case, FunnelDash. If you’re going to be at T&C, please swing by our booth and say “hi.”)
I know I’m not the only person who attends conferences and networking events, or finds myself in a situation where I can grow my email list and add new customers. So, I figured I’d offer up 3 tools you can use when you find yourself in this situation.
1. A Way for People to Opt Into Your Email List
This may sound more complicated than it really is. All you want is to get someone to give you “permission” to put them on your email list.
You are an honorable marketer and don’t do weird things like buy convention email address lists or put people on your list without their permission. (Right?) So, you’re always going to ask that person to opt-in and be upfront about what you’re doing.
There are a few ways you can go about this.
An SMS Text Message Marketing platform
I have one of these set up for myself, and one for my client, FunnelDash, to use at T&C. I use Leaddigits, which are part of the Leadpages system. There are other systems out there, but this is my personal preference.
You automatically get 10 Leaddigits with a Pro account. I recommend them highly.
You can set up a Leaddigit in a couple of minutes. Then, you’re ready to start collecting leads by getting people to text a specific word to a phone number or short code.
If you’d like to see how an opt-in works with a Leaddigit, follow the instructions below. I’m going to use the Leaddigit I set up for FunnelDash as an example. (Please note – If you opt into this Leaddigit, you’ll be added to FunnelDash’s email list and you’ll get email from them, not me.)
Here’s what happens when you opt into a Leaddigit:
- Open your texting app.
- Type “44222” into the area where you’d normally add a contact’s name or phone number. (FYI, if you’re outside the U.S., this short code won’t work. There are also some U.S. carriers that will give a warning message when you do this, and a very few might not let you use this short code.)
- Type “FUNNELDASH” into the area you’d normally put the message you’re about to send. (Upper or lower case, it doesn’t matter.)
- Hit “Send” or “Enter”.
- You’ll receive a text message asking you to enter your email address.
- Type in your email address and hit “Send” or “Enter.”
That’s it. Once you’ve done this, your email address and phone number are entered into FunnelDash’s email list.
If you’d prefer to try this with my Leaddigit, follow the same instructions above, but text WRITEMYCOPY to 44222.
From the standpoint of the person collecting the email addresses, this is an incredibly easy way to get people to opt into your list. And because you’re right there with them, you can walk them through the process if you need to.
The typical opt-in rate with a Leaddigit is about 98% of those who text your unique identifier (that’s the fancy term for the word you have people text to opt into your list) to your short code or phone number.
You can use a Leaddigit just about anywhere, but phone numbers are only available for the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. Short codes are only available for the U.S. Anyone from a country other than the ones listed will be charged for an international text if they opt in.
For more information about Leaddigits, please visit the Leadpages website.
An Opt-In Landing Page or Form
If you’re not quite as high tech as using a Leaddigit or other SMS Text Message Marketing platform, you can set up an opt-in page or basic form where you send people during or after you meet them.
Again, I personally use Leadpages for my opt-in landing pages. However, you should be able to create a form on your website or through whatever email service provider (ESP) or CRM you use. Once you have this set up, you can just share the link with people you talk to during your event.
If your link is long and hard to remember, you can redirect it toward an event-specific domain name. You can also use apps like Bit.ly to shorten your link so it’s easier for people to remember.
When your opt-in landing page or form is ready to go, add the link to all of your marketing collateral and share it with people whenever you get the opportunity.
Collect Email Addresses by Hand
When I was a full-time musician, I had a clipboard with a mailing list sign-up sheet at every show. (I was also very specific about asking people to write as legibly as possible when they signed up on that sheet.) After each show, I’d enter people’s names and email addresses into my mailing list.
You can also collect people’s business cards, which are usually easier to read. If you do this, make sure you ask, “may I add you to my email list?” That way, when your ESP questions you on whether you have permission to email a new subscriber, you can honestly say “yes.”
It also helps to include something like, “You joined this email list when you signed up on my mailing list at (include the type of events you attend), or when you handed me your business card and I asked you permission to add you to my list” in your email footer. This just reminds people that you’re not sending them unsolicited emails, they really did opt in.
2. A Way for People to Contact You
This may seem silly, but sometimes when you focus on inbound marketing strategies, you forget about basic things like giving people your contact information.
There will always be people who don’t want to opt into your email list directly and who won’t want to take your printed marketing materials. For these folks, you need to have a simpler, smaller, but equally impactful way to connect.
The obvious way to give people your contact information is on a business card. Yes, this is a bit old-school. But it works. They won’t always follow up with you, but some will. And, of course, if you exchange business cards and ask if you can add them to your list, you’ll be able to follow up with them.
If you don’t have business cards printed already, you can get them cheap or free from companies like Vistaprint and Moo.
If you’re in a hurry, you can always get the sheets of Avery business cards from your local office supply store and print them yourself. It may not be the most professional looking card, but it’s far better to give someone a way to contact you than to have nothing at all.
3. Your Outgoing Personality
This may seem like a strange thing to mention as a marketing tool. But it’s probably the strongest one in your toolbox.
When you attend any sort of event, whether it’s a big conference, like T&C, or a get together with friends of friends, you must be willing to introduce yourself and talk to people.
I know this can be a challenge for some folks. I personally am one of those extroverts who is always happy to chat. If this is not you, you’re allowed to give yourself a bit of a crutch.
For instance, you can write yourself a short script and memorize it. One of the major points your script should include is your elevator speech. (If you have no idea what an elevator speech is, check out this blog post. It’ll explain the elevator speech and show you how to write yours.)
Whatever you do, make sure you’re starting a conversation, not just blurting out information about your business. Events like these are about building relationships. Yes, you want to self-promote, but you want to learn about others as well.
If you’re really nervous about speaking to strangers, ask a friend to role-play introducing yourself to people with you. It may feel silly at the time, but it will help you feel more prepared when you’re at your event and looking at a bunch of new faces.
What Tools Do You Use to Build Your Email List at Conferences and Events?
I’m always interested in new tools to talk about and try. Please tell me about your favorites in the comments.