How To Build Your Email Marketing List
Email marketing has changed quite a lot in recent years. Its reputation has also cycled from a legitimate means for companies to stay in touch with their customers in the early days through a period of being seen as spammy, if not a bit scammy, and back to a fantastic way to keep customers engaged.
Email marketing can greatly impact your business and customer satisfaction with your service when approached with the right ethics, attitude, and goals. We've written about accomplishing this without sales-y pitches or coming on too strong. When in doubt, check your country's or region's spam legislation to ensure you comply.
Today is all about setting up your email list and how to go about growing it organically and sustainably.
Start On The Right Foot: The CRM
Where do you keep your general business contact list? Is it some combination of in your phone, a stack of business cards from interested prospects you collected at conferences that now resides on the corner of your desk, and somewhere in your email program? You're building a business and need your leads, email subscribers, and other assorted business contacts in one easy-to-find and easy-to-parse location.
You need a solid Customer/Contact Relationship Management (CRM) solution that will scale with your business.
Myriad productivity suites on the market offer different combinations of marketing tools, social media integration, CRM functionality, and even email scheduling and automation—all in one cloud-based dashboard for easy scaling. Do your research and pick one to build a solid foundation for your email marketing needs. There are free versions available that can get you started.
Leverage Existing Contacts
Remember those phone contacts and business cards? Get them all entered into your newly selected CRM and do some outreach. Email your existing business contacts with a legal basis for communication (e.g., a prospect showing interest), asking if they'd like to subscribe to your new email newsletter, and include an opt-in link. That will mark them as subscribed in your CRM, so they'll get your messages.
Then send a follow-up asking those same people (the ones who opted-in) to forward your first newsletter to anyone they think would benefit from hearing from you. Good contacts have other good contacts, so take advantage of your existing network to build your marketing list.
Craft Awesome Content
If you want people to subscribe willingly, which is the ultimate goal here, you need to offer them something they value. The best way to do that is with a solid content marketing strategy built around regularly publishing engaging, informative blog posts. Offer industry news, in-depth looks at how your product impacts your sector, personal interest stories about your team and how their work is shaping your company’s future, and anything else you know your target audience will be interested in.
Then promote that content across channels. Tweet out links to each story you publish (can be done via marketing automation), post to Facebook with additional updates along with links, and don’t forget to let your LinkedIn connections know when a piece goes live. And, of course, don’t forget the call to action in each of those updates. These CTAs are crucial for getting people to click through and subscribe for future updates.
Create Engaging Email Content
Once you generate and promote awesome content, consider what you will send to your growing contact list. You don't want to bore them with rehashed posts from the blog, or they'll unsubscribe just as quickly as they signed up in the first place. You also don't want to be off-putting and send nothing but pushy sales pitches. Instead, create a section of your content calendar specifically for your email newsletter.
Write custom articles that are only available to subscribers. Conduct polls asking for feedback on recent updates, or create contests where the prize is some branded swag or free product.
Gate The Good Stuff
Once your list grows and people read your content via social media, email links, etc., it's time to create gated content. Technically, gated content is only available in exchange for something from the viewer. For content marketing purposes, this usually means asking for email contact information in exchange for access to an eBook, whitepaper, or other special content not available more widely.
Don't just pick a blog post to the gate, however. You've got to make it something special to justify your audience giving up contact info for it. So do a deep dive into a particular topic that's been popular on the blog, or maybe write a whitepaper on the state of a certain industry segment if you're a thought leader. Anything that goes deeper into a subject you know your audience is interested in is a good candidate for gated content.
Use Pop-Ups And Slide-Ins
This one requires some finesse to do right. What you don’t want to do is send readers running away from your site when they’re hit with pop-up after pop-up or a slide-in form so tenacious they can’t get rid of it.
You want to remind visitors that you have an email newsletter that offers more value than a quick visit to the site can provide and a simple form where they can get signed up. Don’t forget an easy way to close the message should they not be interested or already a subscriber, and remember only to set these messages to appear after a pause and not to return too frequently.
Remember That Exclusivity Sells
We touched on this earlier, but it’s important enough to warrant its section. Your email must offer something beyond what a person can get by browsing your website. Special offers exclusively for subscribers or deeper dives into subjects that matter to them. Then you promote that these deals and information are only available to those who subscribe, making the form easy to find.
The fact is that exclusivity sells. People like feeling special, and having access to sales and data that nobody else has access to accomplishes this quite well. The key to these suggestions is including sign-up forms on every site page, links from social media updates, and at the bottom of every email you send. That way, an interested party won't have to dig to get on the list.