People understand the value of having an in-house email list, but many small businesses haven’t found the time to build their list or plan their email marketing strategy. That’s a shame since email marketing results in a strong return on investment. Did you know that for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $42 in ROI?
As the foundation of your content marketing strategy, building an email list is the process of generating quality inbound leads by providing content that helps your target audience through the buying process. This activity is extremely important to your online marketing and should be high on your list of strategies to pursue.
Email marketing is not the only channel that you should be focusing on to increase revenue. But improving your email marketing could have an impact on revenue, especially when other aspects of marketing are being improved as well.
Why build an email list
Email popularity has not decreased, and in fact is still very much a solid marketing and communications tool. There are also five reasons why you need to build an email list now:
- Ownership of the list is yours. Subscribers opted-in, giving you permission to stay in touch. You don’t own lists of your friends or followers on social media.
- Access is direct to all of your subscribers. Email goes directly to their inbox, enabling you to share and communicate more effectively.
- Communication is targeted and proactive. You set the schedule and topics to share, reaching these interested parties at the right time with the right information.
- Email is personal. Subscribers can read your email privately and communicate back to you one to one, building trust in your brand.
- Email is a valuable asset. If you ever want to sell your business, your email list, like your client list, will increase the value of the business to your potential buyer.
If done correctly, email is still the most effective way to communicate online. It continues to work for many small businesses because people get your message in their inbox where it stays until they are ready to read it, unlike the social media news feeds. And since opting into your list is voluntary, there is a much better chance that your subscribers will read your material and convert into a customer.
What are some effective email list building techniques?
Before you can email your list, you need to build it. This is at the beginning of the inbound marketing process. As a reminder, the inbound marketing process includes:
- Attract – create great content that drives traffic to your website
- Convert – get these visitors to become a known lead
- Nurture – build a relationship with the lead that turns them into customers
- Delight – continue to provide value to your customers to turn them into fans
Make your sign up form simple and visible
Visitors who don’t see your form and offer can’t convert. Be sure to display your form prominently on your website. Make your form easy to find. Don’t just have it on a separate page that people have to find because they won’t. The more you make people click, the less conversions that will happen.
You can use more than one of these options on your website as long as it is not too intrusive:
- At the top of the sidebar
- In the navigation bar or footer
- As a pop up or feature box
- In a bar at the top of your page
- At the end of a blog post
Now make the form easy to fill out. The important piece of data is the email address. If you’re trying to build an opt-in email list, you really only need the email address. If you want to personalize your emails, ask for their first name. But don’t ask for what you don’t need. Less is more in email list building tactics.
- Give people the ability to signup at the end of a post. If they have read that far, they are more likely to want to get more content from you.
- Include a very visible button with a specific call to action. You need to help people know what to do when they land on your page.
- Don’t ask for what you don’t need. Less is more in email list building tactics so keep it simple with email and first name so you can personalize your email and nurture a relationship.
- Add your sign up form to your landing tab on your Facebook Page to encourage new fans to sign up as well as like your Facebook page.
- Include the link to your your form in your email signature.
Use a strong call-to-action and a compelling lead magnet
You may have the best content in your blog, but most people won’t sign up for your email list unless you ask them to. Give people a reason to sign up. An eye-catching call to action that elicits an immediate response such as watch a video demo, download a useful tool or join our challenge.
Couple that with a compelling lead magnet that provides something of value to a prospect in exchange for their contact information.
When these two work together, you will encourage visitors to opt-in to your email list and give you permission to send them more useful content.
Further Reading: Create a Website Call to Action that Converts
Further Reading: Lead Magnets: Compelling Offers to Attract Quality Leads
Offer content upgrades
Content upgrades are highly targeted content offerings aligned with specific blog posts. These lead magnets work because they are not generic email lead magnets but are additional incentives for signing up for your list.
The reason these offers convert at a higher rate than your evergreen lead magnet is that they are specific to what the reader is already consuming. Content upgrades can be:
- Templates and worksheets
- Lists of tools and resources
- PDF of the post (for long form articles)
- Webinar replays
- Swipe files
- Transcripts (especially if you have a podcast or video)
- Quick start guides
Content upgrades take lead magnets a step further by offering timely, relevant content to what the reader is already researching. If this is something you want to implement, be sure to understand the technical details required to successfully deliver the content upgrades to your subscribers.
Set up a landing page to capture leads
If you are running a marketing campaign to drive visitors to your website with the specific goal to capture leads, you must use a landing page. A landing page should be aligned with your offer to reinforce your message and dramatically increase your conversion rate.
Using a landing page keeps your visitor focused on what you want them to do. If they land on a regular webpage, there are too many distractions that can interrupt the process and cause the visitor to leave without converting.
A landing page also provides more accurate data because they are only visible to those who click on the link from your campaign. If you land your lead generation campaign on a regular webpage, the analytics data is intermingled with regular website traffic.
The bottom line with lead generation campaigns: keep it simple, don’t make people think, and guide your visitor through the action you want them to take.
Further Reading: Landing Page Optimization Tips
Create an offer that will appeal to your target
There are many ways to re-purpose your content into formats that can generate qualified leads.
- Turn your content into a course delivered through an email series. The content can be text, audio or video, whichever is easiest for you to create. Taking content you have already created and rearranging it into an educational series can build your email list quickly.
- Take this same content and turn it into a webinar. Record the webinar and then offer it as a lead magnet.
- Consolidate your content into an eBook. Make it easy for your audience to get the content they need in one place. Link to the relevant posts on your website to enhance the content of the eBook.
- Create a challenge. Turn your skill into guided experience that helps people get to a specific end result. Challenges can be anything you can guide people through in a short period of time such as “Create your own WordPress website in 7 days”, “Take the 30 day fitness challenge” or “Write your book in 8 weeks”.
You get the idea. Break your expertise down into a step-by-step process that can be completed quickly. Challenges create a very targeted, high quality list of people who now know what you do.
Some offers will work better for some industries than others which is just one more reason why you must have a plan and thoroughly understand your target client. Like every other marketing activity you plan to do, you must understand who you are trying to attract and why.
Further Reading: Crafting a Simple Marketing Plan for a Small Business
Use Facebook to get more subscribers
There are several ways you can use Facebook to grow your email list:
- Add your sign up form to your Facebook Page. Make it visible to encourage new fans to sign up. Since most pages won’t have access to the tabs (you need 2000 followers), create a pinned post that people will see if they go to your page. You can also boost the post to get more subscribers.
- Set your Facebook Page call-to-action button to sign up. Send the visitors to a landing page. You will be able to track because it is tagged as coming from Facebook.
- Add regular posts to your Facebook Page with your opt-in offer. Use an image of your offer in the post to get attention and encourage people to click on the post.
- Run Facebook ads to drive people to your landing page to sign up for your list. You can target people who have liked competitor’s Facebook Pages or other businesses that reach your target audience. These people are more likely to want your lead magnet.
Depending on your business and the reason for you to grow your email list, you can use organic tactics or increase your list quickly through Facebook advertising.
Use an email marketing service
The days of sending email from your computer directly to your list, even if you have been diligent at getting permission, is over. Using a reputable email marketing service has its benefits:
- You will get more subscribers because it means people can safely unsubscribe.
- Your email will come from a reputable service which builds trust. No one trusts email messages coming from an anonymous source.
- The email will be more likely to get to their inbox than it will being sent from your personal email account.
Although there are many good email marketing services for you to choose from based on your email marketing needs. For a small business who wants to get started with email marketing, MailChimp or MailerLite are the best options.
Both MailChimp and MailerLite offer an “RSS-Driven campaign” which sends your blog posts to your subscribers when your RSS feed is updated with new information. This gives you the all-important “subscribe by email” for your blog posts. For their free accounts:
- MailChimp gives you 500 subscribers and 1000 emails per month
- MailerLite gives you 1000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month
Now drive traffic to your website
Execute inbound marketing activities to drive qualified leads to your website where you can educate them on your area of expertise.
- Create and share content regularly to increase your visibility.
- Learn SEO basics and optimize your website
- Get social and build relationships
Once you have their permission, continue to provide valuable content that is helpful to them. It is a privilege that they gave you something as valuable as their email address. Once you have their permission, do not abuse it.
Further Reading: Inbound Marketing – Your Lead Generation Engine
Email list building – an ongoing marketing activity
Email list building is an activity that small businesses should be doing regularly. It is the critical first step in your inbound marketing strategy. Be sure to not only drive traffic to your website, but to get people to sign up. Don’t waste time gaining traffic with no visible results.
Having an email list built on people who are interested in what you have to offer and have given you permission to send them information is a valuable asset for your business, but your work is still not done. Now that you have started to build your email list, you need a plan to provide valuable information to them and keep your business top of mind.
Further Reading: Email Marketing: Getting Permission is Just the Beginning