Let’s talk about growing your email list to grow your business. Any seasoned entrepreneur will tell you that one of the most important aspects of running a successful online business is to maintain a strong relationship with your customers. In this day and age, there are a number of ways to stay in touch with your customers (and leads) but one of the most effective, and often overlooked, is through email.
Having a mailing list allows you to connect with your customers on a more personal level, and it gives you the opportunity to share updates, promotions, and other content that might be of interest.
If there’s one important message to take away from the words that follow, it’s this: you are always going to be focused on list growth. There won’t ever be a day when you’re going to look at your mailing list and say, this is enough – I need no more – at least I hope you won’t!
Having said that, this does NOT mean you have to obsess about having a BIG list, though! Please don’t get caught up in the idea you must have a huge mailing list to succeed. There are too many successful businesses out there with relatively small lists for that to be true. The ‘big list’ ideal works against people, in that they focus so much on getting a big list, they fail to build relationships with the subscribers they already have.
When it comes to list building, approach it with the attitude that you’re building a community of people you care about – not a nameless, faceless list of email addresses. This attitude has served many successful business owners really well over the years and I believe it will for you too. Growing your email list requires a sound strategy, and that’s what I’m sharing with you here.
So, drop small list/big list from your head for now. What you want is a growing list and you can make that happen if you commit to some important actions and ideas. Here are 8 to focus on right now.
#1. Being clear about who you want to have in your community
All good marketing starts with knowing your target market. If you haven’t invested time and effort into building a target market avatar, do it now.
There’s a helpful resource over here at Digital Marketer if you need a jumping off point as you’re growing your email list.
#2. Your primary subscriber offer appeals to a common need
Your target market is interested in a wide variety of topics but they’re not carbon copies of one another so they’re not all interested in the exact same thing – still, there’s likely to be some interests shared more than others.
Your primary offer needs to be one that just about anyone in your target market will want to say yes to.
Note: If you have a product or service to offer right now, your main subscriber gift could be focused on leading them to it. If you don’t have an offer to share right now, it’s time to brainstorm.
It’s not usually difficult to brainstorm a list of possible topics for a subscriber gift. Where people tend to get caught up is in trying to be unique or clever – you know, different from everyone else.
Having a unique offer to make sure you are growing your email list in the right way is great, but that can be developed through format and branding so don’t overthink in the brainstorming phase.
Here’s a simple brainstorming process you can use:
- Create a list of common interests.
- Identify top problems associated with each interest.
- Decide which interest would be easier for you to develop and promote.
- Choose the idea to move forward on.
Next, consider format options. Is the topic served well by a written report of three thousand words? Would it be better delivered as an audio or video? Would it be most awesome offered as a webinar with Q&A time?
Yes, a webinar can be a primary subscriber offer. Once the webinar has been held, you’ll simply be offering access to the replay rather than the live event.
Other formats to consider are resource sheets, checklists, workbooks, assessments and eCourses. Perhaps you’ll arrive at a format choice that includes a combination.
When you think about all these ways to develop a deliverable gift, you realize you don’t have to worry about choosing a common topic at all. More than a thousand people could create a subscriber gift on the same exact topic and still deliver something quite unique. Growing your email list is more about your relationships than anything else.
Two decisions you’ll make before publishing will be key to you standing out to your chosen community – the name you choose for your gift and the visuals you create to represent it.
If you were to undertake a massive audit of the internet, you’d probably find hundreds of business coaches offering a subscriber gift about increasing business profits. It’s a common need, right? Who’s looking for a business coach that isn’t also looking to increase profits?
95% of those coaches might be doing something blandly similar but 5%, the cream of the crop – they’ve done something to set themselves apart and most of it has to do with the name they gave their gift and the graphics they had created to promote it.
Bland example: How To Boost Business Profits
Creative example: 3 Ways Savvy Entrepreneurs Make More Money Every Year
Be the cream of the crop in your niche. Take time to craft a great title. Show your creativity and personal flavor in the graphics. You’ll stand out from the crowd, I promise.
#3. Your primary subscriber gift is offered in multiple ways
Most commonly, a list offer is made on the upper sidebar of your website. Web browsers expect to find an invitation there so it’s good to follow suit – just don’t stop there.
A Welcome Gate is a full page optin offer that appears to first time website visitors instead of the link they clicked on. It welcomes the new visitor and offers them your gift. Welcome Gates are obtrusive but easily passed through by clicking on a ‘no thank you’ link. The Welcome Gate will reappear to the user if they visit from a different computer or device but otherwise, they won’t be pestered by it again.
Pop up and slide in plugins are another way to invite a visitor to subscribe. Usually achieved with a WordPress plugin, it is best set up to appear a few minutes after the visitor arrives or set to appear as they click away. Also obtrusive, take care that your settings aren’t going to torture your visitor with an appearance on every page.
If you have the perspective that you want to keep your list offer ‘polite’ and not annoy your people, like you may find yourself feeling when seeing pop ups and other attention grabbing offers on other sites, it’s time to gain a new perspective 😉 It’s better to be intentional with your list invitation, if your offer is on target and truly fulfilling a need they have, of course you want to make sure they see it!
Finally, in addition to these visitor focused offer tools, you can also set up a dedicated Optin Offer Landing Page so you can send traffic directly to it. The page doesn’t have to be complex, in fact, the simpler the better. An Optin Offer Landing Page can be as simple as a Headline, one paragraph and 3-5 bullets describing the download, a graphic representing the resource and the optin form. Sometimes it can also help to add a photo of yourself and a short bio too.
If your WordPress theme gives you the option of creating a page without headers, footers and sidebars, you can design a perfectly good offer page and insert code for the optin form according to instructions from your email management tool – no fancy tool, like LeadPages, needed!
Having an Optin Offer Landing Page set up means you can send traffic there directly from social media, guest blog posts, podcast appearances, speaking gigs, and more. It’s good to send them to this dedicated offer page where they won’t be distracted by other content and options on your site.
#4. Your best content is connected to a content upgrade offer
As widely appealing as your primary subscriber gift offer is, it is not enough to reach everyone and it won’t be enough to keep your list community growing over the long term. For that, you want to develop multiple other invitations to join your community by targeting specific topics.
A simple way to do this for evergreen impact is to make sure your best content marketing efforts have a content upgrade offer attached. For example, say you’ve written a helpful blog post giving advice to your target market about a task they must complete to be successful. Step by step content is well received and often shared, so good for you! But let’s take this post and create a content upgrade for it.
It can be something as simple and easy as creating a printable checklist based on the content. Something they can grab and use the next time they have to tackle the task. Or it could be a video demonstration of the process, one that goes slowly through every step, explaining your actions. Even better? Both the printable checklist and video would be so appreciated by your visitor. People are more apt to drop their email in the box if you offer to show them something they need help with.
There’s no limit to the number of content upgrade offers you can develop over time and it’s truly great for growing your list and deepening the relationships with your community.
Think outside of blog content too. Think about content upgrades that compliment a podcast episode, yours or one you’re a guest on. Look also for ways to offer easy to act on upgrades on your videos. Sometimes just offering the same content in another format is perfect, for example, you can offer a transcript of your podcast for subscribers only.
Note: The idea of having an ever-growing list of optin offers may make you curious about the technical aspect of how it will work. Since there are dozens of email management tools out there, all working differently, it’s not helpful to attempt to explain the how here. So, the best thing to do is take advantage of the tutorials and trainings provided by your email tool and provider choice. They want to help you with growing your list!
#5. Your list community is valuable at any size, even if it is only one person
It doesn’t matter how many subscribers you have – if there is one, you have a reason to email! From the day you put up your first email optin form, you need to be ready to engage with your list community.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking you’ll email regularly when your list is bigger – because if you don’t do it when you have one subscriber, you probably won’t do it when you have a hundred or a thousand either.
#6. Make full use of autoresponders to build relationships and share valuable content
The smart approach to engage a new list is to plan out a series of autoresponders so that the emails you’re writing will get sent to new subscribers as they join the list. This means creating emails with evergreen appeal. You’ll want to avoid references to a time of year, seasons, holidays, etc. For example, instead of saying ‘five years ago I started…’ – say ‘In 2012 I started….’. You want to avoid any comments that would signal ‘this is old content’ to the new subscriber.
A well thought out welcome sequence gives you a chance to impart important information you’d like everyone in your community to be aware of. For example, a successful business coach I know (and am on their list) has a five-part sequence focused on sharing their story of going from a broke single mom to a financially secure entrepreneur with multiple income streams. It’s important for new members of her community to know her story, to understand that she knows what it’s like to start from scratch.
Beyond the original welcome sequence, think about where you’d like to take your new community members next. What do they need? What content do you want to be sure they’re exposed to? What offers would be most helpful?
There’s no limit to the number of autoresponders you can add or the number of different targeted campaigns you can move them in or out of based on their responsiveness.
#7. As soon as possible, add a tripwire offer
A tripwire is a low-cost product offered to a new mailing list subscriber. The product is directly related to the gift they just claimed and the price is so low, the new community member thinks, ‘Why not?’.
Example: Let’s say your opt-in offer is a checklist for creating your own professional looking brand photos without hiring a photographer. The tripwire offer could be to sign up for your $47 DIY brand photoshoot workshop for just $7. It’s a perfect compliment to the subscriber gift and it’s such a low price point, a new subscriber would be eager to purchase at that price! This ensures you are growing your email list with the right subscribers for your business.
The key to having a successful tripwire is to offer high value for a very low price! Heck, that’s even the key to a successful optin offer. When giving something away, aim to deliver a product someone would be willing to pay for. When selling something for a low price, deliver something they’d be willing to pay a higher price for. You’re aiming to exceed expectations and make a good impression.
A clear benefit of having a good tripwire offer is that you’re creating the expectation of a give and take relationship with your community. Starting the rhythm from day one is not just OK, it’s smart.
In some circles, the experts are telling you to focus 100% on delivering value. Their advice is to give and give now so you can eventually make an offer. This can work in some situations, but more often what happens is it creates a one-sided sense of entitlement in the community. You get silly people who say, ‘I thought you actually cared about me – now I realize you only wanted to sell to me.’
Good grief. The truth is – you can care and sell at the same time! When you start out that way, nobody thinks a thing of it – and anybody that does, well – they’re not who you want to be of service too anyway. Your best leads value what you offer and are more than willing to pay for it.
Could you add a tripwire to your content upgrades as well? Sure, if you have a great offer to make, go for it. Be creative when growing your email list!
#8. Use dates on the calendar to create buzz & excitement
A date on the calendar can be a great motivation to win a new subscriber and what I mean by this is offer them a webinar.
This list building strategy can be intimidating for a lot of people – so if you felt your heart beat a little faster, you’re not alone. Stay focused on growing your email list at all times!
You can work up subscriber gift offers and content upgrades behind the scenes and roll them out on your own schedule and so long as you’re actively promoting them, your list community is going to grow.
Dates on the calendar though, they create urgency – and webinars aren’t the only way to tap into that. There are also time sensitive giveaways, group challenges and product bundles you put together that build your list and give someone a reason to act now versus later.
If webinars don’t intimidate you, go for it – maybe even take it to the next level and organize a series of webinars as a summit event involving other people.
A couple times a year, try putting a date on the calendar in some way because it gives you a reason to remind and invite people (to opt-in for your offer) several times leading up to the date! The increased frequency of promotion brings you and your brand to the attention of more people and that my friend, creates momentum.
So, there you have it, eight simple things you can start doing today to help you with growing your email list. When you put in the time and effort, and take action consistently, the payoff will be more opt-in sign ups, more customers, and more raving fans.
I’m Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author, independent publisher, and serial entrepreneur Connie Ragen Green and would love to connect with you. If you’re new to the world of online entrepreneurship please check out my training on how to sell yourself at Sell Yourself and Your Stuff and learn how to gain an unfair advantage when it comes to building a lucrative online business.