Building an email list can seem less like a challenge and more like an enigma: getting people to sign up sounds easy in theory, but making it happen in practice is anything but.
Think about the spam currently living in your inbox from all the random newsletters you’ve signed up to over the years. With this in mind, how likely would you be to add another subscription to that mix?
People are becoming increasingly wary of providing their email addresses to companies for this very reason. With 124.5 billion business emails being sent and received in a single day, a solid marketing strategy and unique content are crucial for building an email list of engaged users.
Let’s dive into the tactics that can turn bulk up your email list and turn it into a revenue spinning channel for your business.
According to DMA’s Marketer Email Tracker 2018 report, 73% of marketers claim that email is their number one channel for ROI, beating out the likes of social media and SEO.
More than 86% of marketers for online businesses rated email automation (and the ability to send emails to customers in general) as either "important" or "very important."
Email marketing is also an incredibly personal way to reach people. Much like PPC, it can be tailored to the intent, behaviour or interests of the specific user. With email, you have the ability to segment users based on their interests, and in turn, send them content that is directly related to their purpose.
Companies that don’t have an email list can’t use this kind of timely, relevant and specific marketing and, therefore, can’t offer customers the same level of personalised communications through email campaigns.
So now that we’ve established the value of building an email list, how do you go about actually doing it? We’re going to take a look at some of the top tips to get that fat email list you so desperately want, and how some successful companies have managed to pull it off.
It’s unlikely that customers will sign up to receive your marketing emails to their inboxes just for the sake of it. More likely, prospects will want you to offer them something of value in return.
If you hop over to the Freshbooks website, you’ll see that the only thing the landing page tries to do is capture your email address. You can get a free trial of the product for a limited time in exchange for entering your email and password. That’s pretty good value for a small business looking for a digital accounting solution.
Here’s another fantastic example from Neil Patel’s blog. By packaging the process of signing up as a game to be won, the blog provides a huge incentive for the visitor to provide their email address through a web form.
Providing an email address has a direct benefit of potentially winning a “prize” for the user, which makes it seem that there’s real value to be gained from engaging with the call-to-action.
Could your business offer a similar incentive? If you can offer customers something of value in exchange for their email address - whether that’s a free trial, discount, eBooks, free content, or free shipping, it’ll make the process of building your email list that much easier.
If the purpose of your landing page is to build an email list, make sure that is the only purpose you’re trying to serve with it. A landing page should exist to support one ultimate call-to-action - if you ask your visitors for more than that, you’ll dilute your message and lose them in the process.
Check out this ultimate guide on building the perfect landing page to master the anatomy of your landing page.
While it might be tempting to ask customers for their name, phone number, favorite dog and so on, you’re unlikely to get as many signups if you do. Some of the most successful online businesses just ask for an email address: that’s it.
Once they’ve got that, they can then begin using form analytics software to find out more pertinent information about the user associated with the account, tailoring the email marketing experience.
As your business grows, it’s unlikely that the same landing page will work for every purpose. If you business targets a few different personas, industries or audience types, you’ll need a bespoke landing page to speak to each kind of customer.
Let’s consider this scenario: You run a real estate agency. Your target customers range from seasoned property investors to first home buyers. A free First Home Buying Guide might not entice a seasoned property investor to sign up for your email list, as they might assume that your content is geared towards beginners. In this instance, you would benefit from creating a range of landing pages in order to capture your wide array of target customers.
The statistics back this up too. Research by WordStream found that businesses with 40+ landing pages generate 12 times more leads than those with 1-5 landing pages.
While creating that many landing pages sounds like an outlandish pipe dream, it doesn’t have to be as time-consuming as it seems.
With a tool like Paperform, you can get a targeted landing page up and running in less than 5 minutes. For example, this newsletter signup template can be customised as much as you need to create individual email sign up pages for each of your target personas.
Just jump into the editor and start adding text, media, colours and fields.
Creating timed or exit-intent pop-up forms can be a great way to target people who visit your website or blog. Here’s an awesome example from the OptinMonster blog:
This pop-up form automatically appears when a visitor who’s been browsing the OptinMonster blog for more than 10 seconds shows the intention of exiting through their actions (ie. hovers near the ‘close’ or ‘back’ buttons in their browser). The pop-up works for two main reasons:
If this hasn’t become clear yet, let us reiterate: Incentives are everything when it comes to building an email list. Another great incentive is the prospect of a tangible prize that a visitor could win by taking a part in an online contest or a quiz.
By hosting a giveaway of free items related to your product through social media or your website, you can provide another incentive for visitors to give away their precious email address.
Digital marketers now widely accept video as the most engaging form of online content. More appealing than, say, blog posts, images and other forms of rich media - at least according to the data.
YouTube is an easy way for you to reap the many benefits of video marketing and simultaneously build an email list - thanks to a little feature called end screens.
End screens are a hyperlinked screen that appears at the end of a video on top of the content, encouraging people to engage with the CTAs. By adding a link to a targeted landing page, you can use your video content to drive email sign ups.
This strategy also has multiple benefits for your company. While building an online community requires a heap of initial investment, the benefits certainly outweigh the costs if you get it right.
By building a Facebook or Slack community group, you can engage with your customers in more conversational ways by meeting them where they hang out. For example, if your customers are largely mothers, you can create a Facebook group for mothers based in a certain city where your product has been popular and facilitate meaningful discussions through it.
The key thing to remember about starting a community is that it’s not a sales platform.
While the ultimate goal of your community should be to create awareness or advocacy for your product, it should primarily focus on providing value to your members. You can probably agree that there’s nothing worse than joining a Facebook group that matches your interests and immediately being bombarded with ads and sales pitches.
It’s better to let the community grow into a space that people look forward to visiting before linking members to your landing page. And even then, the landing page should speak specifically to your audience.
For example, your Facebook Mothers community would probably derive value from a guide about finding and hiring the right nanny. You can use this piece of content to create a landing page where interested members can provide their email addresses in order to download the guide.
Here’s a helpful guide on building an online community through Facebook Groups to get you started.
Customers want to know that you’re going to respect their time if they sign up to your email list. What they don’t want is hourly or daily advertising messages which don’t offer them value. Be clear about how often you intend to communicate with them and push past that pain point.
We’ve touched on this a little, though it deserves its own point. Content marketing is a fantastic way to create a sustainable and consistent channel for building an email list. By creating a blog for your company, you can write about topics related to your business with the intention of ranking on search engines.
Once your articles begin ranking for search terms, you’ll have a regular influx of traffic entering your website that can then be targeted through the aforementioned strategies - whether that’s pop-ups, giveaways, YouTube videos or a Frankenstein-esque combination of them all.
If you’ve got an old email list that needs reinvigorating, then you might want to send all recipients an email asking them to opt-in to your new, flashy email marketing service while promising to remove all those that don’t sign up. It’s both courteous and effective for maintaining old lists.
We’ve saved the most important point for last. None of these tactics matter even a bit if your email content sucks. Your newsletter needs to be unique, interesting and above all, extremely valuable to your target audience in order to maintain subscribers.
You can build a huge email list through the hacks listed above, but if your email newsletter fails to be relevant to your audience, they’ll eventually end up clicking the ‘Unsubscribe’ button. And even if they don’t, they’ll most likely learn to not open your emails at all, rendering them useless.
The most important trick for maintaining and building a good email list is to first understand who you’re targeting. Once you understand their pain points and problems, you can create helpful content that actually helps them solve these problems and provides them with the information they need to get there.
Not sure how to get started with this? Check out this guide on conducting market research to identify and understand your audience better and start giving them the email content they need.
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