Building an email list is the best way to create relationships with prospects. That’s because people will only subscribe to your emails if they want to hear from you!
With a return of $44 for every $1 spent, email marketing remains the king of all marketing channels. So if you’re a small business, building an email list is probably the best marketing asset you can have for generating revenue in the long term.
Think of it as your database of potential customers. It gives you the ability to reach the right people who are interested in what you offer.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to build an email list from scratch. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Email List Strategy
Before you start out on the journey of building an email list, you need to think about who your potential subscribers will be. Try building an ‘email subscriber persona’ who’d like to hear from you. Think about the following questions:
- What topics would be of interest to your audience?
- Who would like to hear from you?
- What’s a solid reason for these people to sign up to your email list?
- What kinds of blogs are they already subscribed to?
- What do they usually read about?
- What types of problems are they looking to solve by subscribing to this content?
Then look into creating a strategy to collect email addresses from them. Think about the following questions:
- Which online and offline channels would you be using to collect email addresses from?
- If you’re collecting emails via your blog, what tools/plugins would you need to use?
- If you’re collecting emails via social media, what tools/chatbots would you need?
- How would you funnel these email addresses to your list?
- How would you filter genuine email addresses from hoax ones?
- Where would you store all of your collected emails?
Thinking about the questions above will give you a solid foundation to build an email list that works for your business. It is good to have a specific goal for the number of emails you want to collect. It will help you work with a sense of purpose and create the strategies that will get you there!
Step 2: Create Great Content
To attract people to become your email subscribers, you need to give them a reason to look forward to your emails. One such ‘hook’ is great content. It can be written, visual, or video content, that’s entirely your choice. The essential part is that it’s valuable, educational, and engaging.
There are a few tactics to create great content your audience would like. Firstly, it should aim to solve a real problem for the readers. Secondly, you can use tools like “BuzzSumo” to get an insight on the most shared, popular topics in your space, and then create content with your own unique spin on it. Thirdly, you can interview thought leaders and influencers in your domain and then create content based on their wisdom.
With the amount of content being published online every day, it’s an absolute must that you try to differentiate yourself. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. To make people want to subscribe to your newsletter, you need to stand out.
Try using content formats like:
- Blog articles, eBooks, whitepapers
- Videos, interviews
- Infographics, GIF images, memes
- Interactive content
You might grab the attention of your audience by giving them something unique to look at! You can use the above content types for getting people to become email subscribers, as well as sending it to your current subscribers. So you’re using the same content for attracting new subscribers and nurturing existing ones.
Step 3: Build Traffic to Your Website
If you’ve started to create and publish great content, you’ve already won half the battle! Now it’s time to build traffic to your website and social media channels where people can become your subscribers.
- Facebook Ads: If you want to attract website traffic fast, Facebook ads do the trick. Just start by investing a few dollars to A/B test your results and build on it. You can use Facebook ads to direct traffic to your website, Facebook chat, and even directly subscribe to your email list. So use it judiciously!
- Guest Posts: You can publish content on blogs and websites with existing traffic to attract attention to your website. Doing even one guest post a week can be a great approach to building traffic for your email list.
- Influencer Marketing: Reaching out to influencers to create and share content to direct traffic to your website is probably the smartest thing you can do. Influencers have large audiences. By collaborating with them, you’ll generate more subscribers.
- SEO: Great content is a necessity for great SEO. By putting the right links and metatags, and consistently publishing great content, you will do great SEO over time.
Step 4: Collect Email Addresses from Website Visitors
Just like you need nets to catch fish from the ocean, you need email collection tools to collect email addresses from website visitors. While you may have considered this in the strategy part in step 1, now it’s time to get more detailed and specific on the ‘how’ of your email collection approach.
Pop-ups are absolute gems when it comes to email collection. Through the use of sophisticated email pop-up plugins, you can strategically time pop-ups to appear once your website visitors have consumed a certain part of your content. This improves the odds of users subscribing to your email list. Use tools like OptinMonster, Bloom, or SumoMe List Builder to name a few.
You can also make it easy for people to subscribe to your email list by having a subscription opt-in form on the side of your blog. This could be a form that’s always visible as people scroll down your content. This way, it’s in your readers’ peripheral sight and plays on their subconscious mind, enticing them to give their email address.
Content upgrades are another great way to collect email addresses by offering gated content. You attract people to read a generic content piece first, then you offer them something more specific or detailed in the form of an eBook or whitepaper in exchange for their email address. This strategy works like magic as your readers would be curious about the gated content.
Step 5: Enable Your Current Email Subscribers Share Your Emails
One of the fastest ways to grow your email list is to leverage your current subscribers to spread the word through their network. It’s like building a referral network for your email list.
A smart way to do this is to create email/social share buttons within your email templates, so your current subscribers can share your email content with one click. You can also incentivize them for sharing your emails with their friends. People are more likely to listen to people they already know!
Step 6: Engage Your Audience to Retain Them
It’s one thing to attract new subscribers but retaining them is a different story. If you’ve ever subscribed to an email list, you know that at some point you would lose interest or have subscribed to too many lists, leaving you overwhelmed with the number of emails in your inbox. At this point, you’ll usually want to ‘organize’ your inbox by unsubscribing from some of the lists. You’ll only want to stay subscribed if the emails you get are worth the read.
That’s why engaging your audience is critical to retaining them in the longer run. You can use a few strategies to engage your readers so they look forward to receiving your emails.
- Giveaways & Incentives: If your emails have special offers that others would not normally have access to, then remaining subscribed to your email list makes sense. Incentivise emails with bonus offers or discount deals to keep your subscribers happy.
- Customer Reviews: Put customer reviews in your emails to act as ‘social proof’ for subscribers, reminding them why they should stay with you. Customers should feel like testimonials resonate with them personally in order to connect with your larger community and remain with you for the long term.
- Webinars & Surveys: A great way to know if email subscribers are satisfied is to ask them! Webinars and surveys are a great way to keep in touch with subscribers to find out what they think. You’ll get plenty of ideas on how to fine-tune your business approach.
Step 7: Be Analytical about the Email Collection Process
Now that you’ve got a process to collect emails, you need to analyze your email marketing efforts. This will help you get better at growing your email list. Here are a few specific things you can do:
- Heatmaps: By using heat maps with tools like Hotjar, you can figure out what attracts the attention of your website visitors. You’ll also know when they decide to leave their email address. With this information, you can optimise your email subscriber conversion rates.
- Analyze Existing Subscribers: By doing this, you’ll know exactly who’s subscribing to your email list and why. That way, you will do more of what’s working, and eliminate the efforts that don’t produce results.
Wrapping It Up
Hopefully, you got some insight into how to build an email list. Remember, building an email list is a marathon, not a sprint race, so be patient with it!
What efforts do you put into building an email list?