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On her Minding the Miles blog, writer Lisa Watts makes some interesting observations about the digital marketing world. In her post "Instant Gratification in the Digital World", she discusses how easy it is to get caught up in tracking every campaign every second:

"These data-rich reports stir up the latent competitor in me. I want each new e-blast to top the last one's stats … It seems quaint to think of the days when we'd send off a new issue of a magazine — a print magazine, in the U.S. mail — and then eagerly wait for the return mail — print letters, with stamps on the envelopes — to hear what readers thought. How did we fill the time in between?"

The idea of using only a direct marketing piece through the postal service and awaiting reply does indeed sound quaint.  Lisa is also right when she says we, as digital content creators and marketers, can instantly get feedback on our creations and mailings through send reports, click-through data, and more.

But while we can send emails at the speed of light and view who opened them and when almost as quickly, it still takes time to build a successful digital marketing program, particularly when it comes to permission-based email marketing. You can't go from zero to 60 overnight.

It takes time to build a contact list of people who want to receive information from you. Yes, you could go out and rent a list of email addresses, but in reality people only pay attention to emails from people they know and respect.  On top of that, when I receive email from someone I don’t know I consider it spam and them to be an un-reputable business.  

Instead, you should be building your list by asking for email addresses at every customer touch point. When a customer purchases something at your register or online store, ask if they want to join your mailing list. Add a Join My Mailing List box to your website to collect email addresses there. And when doing so, make sure to put the box on every page, so no matter how someone enters your site, he or she is presented with the option to join.

Staff at retailers, restaurants, or any location where customers can visit should be asking guests if they want to join your mailing list. Make it a contest to see who can collect the most addresses over a given period of time, providing greater incentive to carry through on asking for customers' email addresses.

Using this approach, your list will grow organically and expand over time with people that want to do business with your company. Once your list has expanded, you can then go back to constantly checking reports and getting that instant gratification when you see people are reading and interacting with your marketing campaigns.