Five Ideas to Grow Your Email List

Email is Still King

There’s so much pressure to be involved in social media nowadays that it’s easy to forget about the only form of marketing that YOU OWN and CONTROL.

I’m talking about your Email List.

You might have the feeling from all of the hype about social media that email is a dying form of marketing.  I’m here to tell you that it’s time to wipe that feeling away.  Email continues to be a major player in the marketing world and should be an important part of your strategy.

That’s why it’s so important for you to have a solid email list. Then you write regular emails because they matter to your overall marketing scheme and drive business to your golf course.

What strategies do you have in place in order to grow your list?  If you’re depending on your snack bar staff or tee time booking agent to do all of the heavy lifting, you’re going to be sorely disappointed.

For years, I depended on my staff to get the emails from our customers for my list.  This really isn’t a very smart way if you’re wanting a good list.  In my case, some staff members would leave off the .com to the email address while others had a hard time hearing on the phone while typing at the same time and would put in a B for a D in the email.  In addition, there were some staff members who simply felt uncomfortable asking for it.

You know where that got me?  A pretty junky list that didn’t grow much every year.  Until now…

My goal is to add at least 20 new golfers or prospects to my list EVERY DAY.  Here are some of the strategies that I have put in place in order to make that goal happen.



The starter is a better touch point to ask for an email than the person who is running the check-in process.  Golfers are anxious until they have paid their fees and have their bags loaded on their carts.  If the counter staff interrupts the process by asking for an email address, it just bogs down the process and causes delays.  When there is time, it is perfectly logical for the starter to talk up the many advantages to joining your list.  There are advantages to joining your list, right?  We’ll cover that in a minute.

Many email services have an app that is downloaded to an iPad.  My tee time service can be viewed online, so my starters use an iPad to check tee times of golfers and mark turn times.  I’ll be perfectly honest.  I do have two starters who still use paper to check in golfers and don’t get email addresses.  Their age gave some technology limits, so we improvised.

The rest of my starters use an iPad to view which golfers have checked in and can easily see how the tee sheet is shaping up for the day.  On the iPad, we
use my email service provider’s app to gather email information.  The app asks for their email address and first name.  The golfer types it out in the tablet and ka pow!  They’re on the list!

This method works like a charm!  More personal attention is given to the golfer with information about the list, and the starter is able to explain in greater detail why joining is advantageous.



Set up an area in your clubhouse that is dedicated to signing up people for your email list.  iPads or tablets are pretty inexpensive these days.  Grab one, plus a stand.  Like this one on Amazon.  Bam!  You’re set up to start taking emails to add to your list.

They will be quality leads because your golfers are the ones typing in their emails.  To be on the safe side, you can even set it up to have them write in the email twice as a confirmation.  When you have a confirmed email address on your list, it’s more likely to be delivered directly to your golfer’s inbox rather than showing up in the spam folder – or worse – the promotions tab in gmail.

At my golf course, we just have a printable form without a kiosk.  Some day I plan to add a kiosk, but for now a printable form is working great.  The forms are placed near a sign explaining what they’ll get when they sign up for the list.

I keep referring to using this to gain more golfers to your list, but that isn’t really accurate.  There are many other types of people who want to get information from my golf course.  We have wedding couples, new golfers looking for lessons, parents who want a birthday party at the mini course, businesses who want a team building seminar, and so many more!

I’m sure if you gave it some thought, you have more people than just golfers who would like your marketing information, too.  Perhaps you have a restaurant or a high end practice facility.  These people would like to know about the promotions you’re holding on your range or restaurant.  Don’t leave them off your list!

A kiosk allows you to attract more than only golfers to your email list.

When you’re creating an offer that entices someone to join your email list, you’ll want to make sure it appeals to many people and not just golfers.  This will help you attract more types of leads.  An even better option would be to have multiple offers available that your customers could select before providing their emails.

Here are some ideas to include when someone signs up for your list:

  • Restaurant Patron – provide a coupon or a buy one get one half off deal
  • Lesson participant – 3 part video series on how to select the perfect set of clubs or type of golf balls to use – or you could give them a 30 minute lesson for free when they sign up for your xyz package
  • Wedding Couple – provide a complimentary wedding planner book or maybe a worksheet with ideas on the top ten ways to host a wedding on a budget or a worksheet with tips on what questions to ask when looking for a venue
  • Beginner Golfer – an email series for 7 days with daily golf tips or a worksheet with strange golf terminology
  • Golf Outing Coordinator – a worksheet with tips on how to raise more money – maybe a worksheet with time saving tips for planning an outing

By your customer selecting which one of these offers they’d want when they sign up, you are segmenting your list.

If you don’t want to create a bunch of worksheets or video series as I have mentioned above, you can create options that the customers will mark with what types of things interest them.  Select the categories that will help you to segment your list.

On the printable form, you create checkboxes that they select.  In the kiosk, you would create buttons with different questions that would help you to segment your list.



In case you’re living under a rock, podcasts are huge right now.  I can’t remember the last time that I listened to the radio because I always have a podcast playing.  Podcasts are digital files that can be downloaded to your phone or tablet or can be listened to from your website or by a podcasting service such as iTunes.

On an airplane, I was listening to a podcast where the host was talking about his favorite podcast.   He had listened to it while he was visiting Paris.  The podcast was a walking tour of the streets of Paris.  Someone had created just a single episode podcast that took people on a personalized tour of the streets.  The podcast lasted over an hour and the person talked about how he was so sad that he didn’t actually know the person because he enjoyed the walking tour so much, he really wanted to tell them, “Thank You!”

This got my brain wheels moving full steam ahead because I LOVED the idea of a walking tour of the golf course.  As I introduced this idea to my team/family, it morphed into creating an 18 episode podcast where tips are given for each hole as well as the meaning behind the names of our holes.

Those 18 episodes are hosted in my website and on iTunes.  In order to access them, the user has to fill out an opt-in form.  An opt-in form is where the user provides their name and email address.  Once the form is filled out, the thank you page to the form or the follow up email confirmation contains a link to the page on your site where the podcast is stored.

To make it even easier for golfers, I use a product called Leadpages.  Leadpages is great at creating quality opt-in forms and landing pages.  They have a product that is called Leaddigits.  When you activate Leaddigits, the user can get the opt-in form in a text format.

On my scorecard and in the cart sign, I have the five digit code they text in order to gain access to my podcast with tips for every hole on the course.  I just introduced it this year, and I get about two golfers a day who download the podcast by filling out my opt-in form. All of the information is on the front of the scorecard.

With this example, you’ll see the front of my scorecard.  At the bottom, it instructs the golfer to text the word TOADTIPS to a five digit number.

I have a follow up email that comes out after they have downloaded it thanking them for coming to my golf course.

SIDE NOTE:  This might sound a bit difficult, but it really was not.  My brother wrote the short tips for each hole in an afternoon (2 hours), the next day he recorded himself separating each hole in its own recording (2 hours), then he passed everything to me where I took about 3 hours loading it to the website and connecting the information to the email service.  It took about 8 hours all together to complete, but it something that we can use for years to come to gain more golfers and emails.



I know.  I know.  I HATE pop-ups, but they really work when you position them, so they aren’t so in your face.  Smart pop-ups can sense what your visitor is doing on your site, so it might come when they look like they’re leaving your page or maybe after they have scrolled through a percentage of your homepage.  There are many rules you can set in order to get the most from your pop-up.

If you are using a WordPress website, then there are several plugins that you can use to easily set up a pop-up.  My favorite two are SumoMe or PopupAlly Pro.  Each one offers a free trail, so be sure to take one for a spin!

They make it very easy for you to create a simple pop-up that asks the visitor for their first name and email address.  This type of form is called an opt-in form because your visitor is opting in to your email list.

Have you thought about creating your own website? It isn’t nearly as difficult as it seems, and you can save a lot of money! Check out my tutorial on how to build your own WordPress site.

The key to having a successful pop-up form is that you need to give away something that your website visitors will find valuable.  It could be something super easy like a coupon for a percentage off their next green fee all the way to something a little more intense like a three-part video series on how to fix their slice.

In order to get your pop-up to work well for you, it is best if you use A/B testing.  This type of testing is built right in to those plugins that I mentioned.  A/B testing allows you to have two different types of pop-ups running at the same time.  The plugin will sometimes show the A version and sometimes show the B version.  Then, it keeps track of which one attracts the higher number of people who opt-in.  Once you know that, you can continue to change different things on your pop-up until you are getting a higher and higher conversion.

For instance, you might start with two different types of offers if they opt-in.  One offer might be 10% off a sleeve of balls while the other might be a worksheet with the top five mistakes golfers make when trying to teach someone how to play golf.

When the golfer signs up for your email list, they would get one of those offers.  After you know which offer is attracting a higher number of conversions (people who opt-in to your email list), then you start testing other options like:

  • Font selection
  • Images
  • Color choice
  • Copy/Word selection
  • Size
  • Location of pop-up



As I mentioned in this post, Facebook is currently really pushing their Facebook Live option.  If you’re a smart golf course operator, you’ll jump on this bandwagon.

You’re probably scratching your head wondering how in the world do you use Facebook Live in order to grow your list.  In my opinion, this might be the most intelligent method of all the ideas that I have provided in this post. It does take some planning on your behalf, but we’re talking quality leads of customers who like what you’re producing and want more of your golf course!

Going Live is currently a great way to gain some organic traffic on Facebook.  As mentioned in this post, I have a few scenarios where I plan to go live at my golf course this upcoming season.

  • Golf Tournament Prep
  • Wedding Day Prep
  • Bi-weekly Golf Tips
  • Golf Outing Coordinator Tips
  • Fundraisers
  • Specials events on my Marketing Calendar

Let’s take a look at how I might use these times of going live in order to build my email list.  The key to success in this method is in the copy that you write BEFORE you go live.  When you first go live on your page, it’ll ask you to write a post explaining why you’re going live.  In this post, you’re going to explain why you’re going live, with a link to an opt-in page that is relevant to why you’re going live.

Now, don’t let this intimate you.  I know it’s going to take a little bit of time, but hear me out.  Let’s look at what this process might look like on your end.

Imagine you’re going live on Golf Tournament Prep day.  This might be a day where you have a really high end golf outing taking place.  It might have a lot of community draw to it, or perhaps it’s an incredible fundraiser or the outing is having an anniversary.  You would go live and walk through the silent auction items; maybe you interview the outing coordinator, or you show your staff doing their thing behind the scenes.

Your post before you go live might be:
Welcome to the O’Donnell Open!  Today, the O’Donnells are going to hit their million dollar mark in charitable gift giving.

To find out their five secrets to a successful golf outing, go to this link: (This is just an example, so you won’t actually be able to download the guide.)

When visitors watch your Facebook Live, they’ll also go to your opt-in page where they get free tips from these experts on charitable golf outings.  Are you following along with how amazing of a marketing tool this would be to help you grow your list?

If you segment your email list using this opt-in form, then you might assume that this list might be interested in either holding a golf outing or possibly improving one they already have at a course.

Let’s break down some options for each of those going live suggestions:

  1. Wedding Day Prep – You go live with a tour of the ceremony and reception site.  Point out the 7 things you like best about this bride’s decorations.  In the post, you drive them to a page where they can sign up to get a worksheet (PDF) that is titled Three Simple Tips for Selecting Centerpieces.
  2. Bi-Weekly Golf Tips –  You go live on the range or practice green with a 3-5 minute video with one specific tip.  In the post, you direct them to a worksheet that has a few more pointers about the topic or a summary of the tips.
  3. Golf Outing Coordinator Tips – Go live with interviews of your top outing coordinators.  In the post, you direct them to your opt-in page where they can sign up to receive a worksheet (PDF) with a List of Terms Everyone Should Know Before Planning a Golf Outing.
  4. Fundraisers – Go live during the fundraiser you’re hosting and show off the silent auctions items and raffle prizes.  In the post, you direct them to an opt-in page where they can sign up to receive a worksheet that includes the Day of Event Planning Timeline for a Fundraiser.

Of course you aren’t going to do all of these at once, but I wanted to get your creative juices flowing on how this can help you to grow an amazing email list!  When you use this method, you will want to tag the person for every opt-in they decide to grab from your website.  This is how you segment your list WITHOUT DEPENDING ON YOUR STAFF to do it.  The golfers/customers are segmenting themselves by selecting the items that are the more relevant to them.

This method helps you to gain leads to people who are thinking about planning a golf outing, wedding, or fundraiser.


In an effort not to overwhelm you, when I’m referring to creating a worksheet, I’m simply talking about a one-page word document with your logo on the top and the checklist or words in an easy-to-read format.  When you save your document, make sure to save it as a PDF.  The PDF format is the one you want, so the worksheet shows up correctly on all computers.


Do you know how many people sign up to receive someone’s newsletter?

NONE!  That’s how many!

As golf operators, we have a HOT commodity that everyone wants!  We need to make it count.  Are you wondering about that hot commodity?  It is learning to play golf.  I can’t think of a single golfer who doesn’t feel they need to improve their game.

When someone signs up for your main newsletter (this is the one that doesn’t do the segmenting that I mentioned in a few of these options – picture the opt-in that the Starter or Counter Staff executes, the main one on your pop-up of your website, or the one at the kiosk in your Pro Shop), you need to reward them for their willingness to give you their email.  No one truly enjoys more email in their inbox. That’s why it’s so hard to get it from them!

When you’re asking for their email, you need to give them something in return that is worthy.  This might be something as simple as a coupon for a percentage off of a purchase to something more slightly more difficult to design like a 5-Day Challenge to a Better Golf Swing.  Golf Digest has a great example in their 30 Days of Golf Tips.  People who sign up for their list get 30 days of emails in a row of very detailed tips on how to improve their golf game.  Why?  Because EVERY GOLFER likes help with their golf game!

This isn’t rocket science!

If golf tips aren’t your speed, then think about another option that might entice your golfers.  Consider the questions you are most frequently asked, then create a worksheet answering those questions.

I just gave you many ideas for growing your list.  Don’t freak out because they seem too hard.  Pick one and implement it.  Make it a goal to get new emails on your list every day.  Develop a strategy because you OWN your email list.  It’s worth the extra effort.

Which strategy are you going to use?  How many emails do you think you can get a day?  Let’s set some goals and ACHIEVE them!

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