How Offline Retailers Can Also Build An Email List

small business owner

A mailing list is a great way to promote and strengthen your brand. It enables you to stay in touch with your customers and entice them with the latest offers. While it’s easier for online businesses to gather emails via blogging & social media, how do offline retailers build a valuable email list that they can use to communicate with their customers, and promote their business?


Here are 7 ways offline retailers can gather more email addresses to reach a wider audience.


1. Use Text to join services

Almost every mobile phone user knows how to send text messages. So why not use it to gather email addresses?


There are many text-to-join services such as JoinByText, Call Loop & TXTImpact that allow you to get email subscribers offline via any phone, and add them to your email marketing platform. You can even use it to collect additional information like names & zip codes that will help you segment your email list and send highly targeted emails.


Whether you’re hosting a public event or promoting your business on local radio, let people know what keyword (e.g ACME) they need to text to the 5-digit shortcode (e.g 55444) of your text-to-join service, to subscribe to your offers and promotions.

sms marketing tools

2. Use Flyers & leverage print materials

Offline businesses use various print materials, and each one provides a unique opportunity to grow your subscriber list.


For example, you can leave colorful flyers with instructions about how people can subscribe to your newsletter, wherever your potential customers are likely to visit – restaurants, shopping malls, beauty salons. Only ensure that you get the permission of the store owner/manager before you do so.


Similarly, have you thought about adding instructions about subscribing to your email list, on your receipts & invoices?


Make a list of all the different things your business prints out, that you hand out to your customers:

  • Instruction manuals
  • Pamphlets
  • Menus
  • Business cards
  • Product brochures
  • Trade show handouts
  • Carry Bags
  • Packaging Materials used to ship your products


Print your subscription instructions on your print materials, and provide an incentive (e.g learn more about a product or your company, get discounts & offers) to join your mailing list.

3. Collect business cards at checkout

It’s painful and error-prone to manually write down email addresses, and this can seriously prevent your business from building an email list.


Luckily, most people have their contact information (email, phone number) printed on their business cards. You can simply place a fish bowl at the checkout point of sale or reception desk, inviting people to drop their business cards, for a chance to win a prize or get a gift card.

4. Use Email Capture Apps

People love dabbling with tablets – to stream NetFlix, watch movies, or simply shop online. Use it to your advantage. Instead of asking them to write down their email address, type it directly into your tablet or smartphone.


If you use a tablet for checkout or to get customer feedback, then it’s a great opportunity to ask for a sign up, by offering a discount to join your email list. Use an email capture app like OnSpotSocial or SignUpAnywhere to easily add subscribers with or without an internet connection.


Even if your potential subscribers are not near a tablet, you can get their attention by showcasing your offers using a screensaver, that they can tap to get more information.

email capture apps

When they touch the screen, you can show them an opt-in form, like the one below.

email capture apps

5. Trade Shows, Seminars & industry events

Trade Shows, Seminars & industry events are important sources of email addresses. Here are some ways you can collect email addresses at these events:

  • If you’re conducting a seminar, pass around a clipboard during your session to collect emails.
  • If you’re attending a trade show, then run a contest and advertise your presence ahead of time, by posting about it on your Facebook Page.
  • Live tweet as you set up your booth, or when you’re about to pack up and leave. The trick is to increase footfalls by building anticipation and excitement.
  • Setup a tablet or laptop at your booth and have visitors enter their email address and other information (name, company, phone number), at the end of your conversation.
  • Ask for business cards to your booth visitors, or collect them from interested seminar attendees.


You can improve your chances of getting more emails by mentioning that they’ll be automatically entered into a grand prize draw.

6. Use your merchandise to get emails

When you attend trade shows and conferences, you’ll also need to give away a lot of goodies like magnets, water bottles and t-shirts, to promote your business.


In exchange for the free merchandize, you can ask visitors to sign up for your newsletter, directly via smartphone.

7. In-store promotions

In-store events are a great way to promote your retail store and get more customers. They also provide an opportunity to collect email addresses in a non-obtrusive manner. Set up a refreshment table with free food, drinks and giveaways, and place a box where people can sign up for prizes, and leave their business cards.


Include a field for email address, on your entry form, that people fill out as they enter your in-store events.



You don’t need to run an online store or spend a lot of money, to build an email list. If you approach people the right way and offer something of value, they’ll be happy to give you their email addresses.


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