Imagine you can reach thousands of potential customers that are interested in you at the click of a button. At one point that was considered a miracle. But once you learn to build an opt-in email list, this will be your reality.
Every business needs to take their email list seriously
Every single one of your current and future customers has an email address. It is a direct line into their day. Email is one of the most personal and economical ways to stay in touch.
In fact, email statistics show that email marketing performs better than social media, PPC, content marketing, offline direct marketing, online display advertising, mobile marketing, and affiliate marketing. So where do you begin?
You Need An Email Service Provider
An email service provider is a company that gives you tools to send marketing email. Here are some of the most important criteria for choosing an ESP that is right for your business:
- Deliverability. You need to make sure your emails make it to your inboxes. Otherwise, the rest of your work is wasted if the email remains undelivered. The most reputable ESPs hover around 99% deliverability.
- Setup. Setting up your ESP account should be a painless process. Whether you’re uploading a list or designing your first email, you shouldn’t need hours to make it happen. The best ESPs are user-friendly and intuitive.
- Easy to use. Managing your email campaigns should be easy. If you find it difficult to navigate an ESP, it will only get more complicated as you develop your email program.
- Reporting. Reports should be beautiful and straightforward. Make sure to look for analytics integrations and see what reports your ESP offers before signing up.
- Support. An ESP should be easy enough to use without any support, but there will be times when you need a hand. It’s important to know that someone will be there for you.
If you want to build a massive email list, find a great ESP to host your list and make it easy to design and send emails that are beautiful and mobile-friendly.
You Need To Send Amazing Emails
It goes without saying that in order to build an email list, you need to send emails that people care about. Without awesome content, you can use all of the list-building tactics in the world, but nobody will want your emails. How can you develop great content?
- Do the research. Subscribe to competitors to see what types of emails they send. Make a list of content categories and brainstorm the types of emails you want to send. Use competitor emails as inspiration but seek to create a program that is truly original.
- Create an email content calendar. Once you determine content categories, create an email content calendar with specific email topics and dates for delivery. Sending frequency should be consistent but test multiple delivery dates and times, content types, and designs to find what works best.
- Design a branded email template. Use your email editor to design a beautiful template that reflects the look and feel of your brand – in minutes. You can easily replicate each newsletter and create variations for testing.
Here are a few email content tips to help you…
- Make emails easy to share. You can add social sharing buttons.
- Share your best content. Whether its your latest blog post or ebook, make sure to share your best performing content via email.
- Curate. Shine the spotlight on someone else. Promote content from industry leaders and let them know you will be sharing it in your newsletter.
- Ask your audience what they want. Instead of just trying to read the minds of your customers, ask them what they want. Who doesn’t want to have their voice heard or their questions answered?
- Tie in current events. Try to find ways to integrate important holidays and major events within your email content.
- Experiment with subject lines. Check out our post on email marketing statistics to find a few subject line tricks that might work for you.
- Give extra value. I’ll cover this more extensively under the “Incentives” category in the deck below but the idea here is to run subscriber-only contests or give them something they can’t get anywhere else.
Once you have your email plan ready to go, it’s time to start building your list…
- Sidebar. Add opt-in form to your sidebar.** **Add a subscription form to the sidebar of your blog with WordPress plugin or develop a custom opt-in form.
- Hello Bar. Add a Hello Bar to the top of your website. You can encourage email signups directly in the Hello Bar or drive traffic to a subscription landing page.
- Main Menu Page. Add an “Updates” or “Subscription” page to the main menu of your site. This should link to a page dedicated to your email subscription. Highlight the most important benefits of your email newsletter.
- Custom. Create a custom opt-in form on your homepage. This is important if your primary goal is to convert visitors to email subscribers. Great for bloggers.
- Popups. Annoy people with popups. There is evidence to support that popups work but it is up to you to decide if the conversions are worth the interruptions.
- Blog Footer. Create a custom opt-in form for the footer of your blog posts. See the bottom of this post for an example.
- Opt-ins Everywhere. Flood your site with opt-in forms. Ok, maybe not flooded, but consider adding an opt-in form to every page of your site. Visitors should always have an easy entry point.
- Brilliant Copywriting. Write amazing copy for your opt-in forms. Grab attention with the headline, nudge with the body, and trigger with the call-to-action. Communicate the incentives.
- Something Extra. Add something extra to your opt-in forms. Including a dollar value of your incentive or a testimonial or adding social proof can spice things up.
- The Simple Ask. Don’t ask for too much information before opt-in. Generally, all you want to ask for is an email address. The more you ask, the less visitors convert.
- Special Promotions. Customize opt-in forms for special promotions. Are you anticipating a traffic surge from a new campaign or guest post? Tailor your forms to the guest audience.
- Optimization. Optimize opt-in forms to improve conversion rates. Test small changes to your opt-in forms such as location, design, copy, call-to-action, and more. Something as small as changing the voice from first to third person can have a major impact.
- Interactive. Develop a super unique opt-in form. Want to really stand out? Create an interactive signup form or video game that prompts signups. This can quickly turn into PR opportunities.
Learn more: 16 Opt-in Tricks To Grow Your Email List
- eBook. Create an ebook on a popular industry topic. Combine your most popular blog posts or choose a topic based on industry demand.
- Email Course. Create an email course. This series of emails should educate your audience on an in-demand industry topic. Use autoresponders to schedule emails.
- Webinars. Run recurring webinars. Live video conferences can educate your audience and encourage them to sign up for emails.
- Contests. Run recurring giveaways or contests. Select a product or service to give away every so often and announce winners via email.
- Special Club. Create a club for subscribers. Brand your email subscription as a special club and offer a variety of incentives.
- Audio Gift. Record an audio. Take one of your ebooks or popular blog posts and record an audio version. Give this away as a free gift with a subscription.
- Discount. Offer a discount. Select a special deal or discount on a product or service for new email subscribers. Deliver the deal in the welcome email and set up a reminder email for subscribers who don’t make a purchase.
- Free Trial. Offer a free trial. In exchange for an email and other information, give people an opportunity to try your product or service for free for a select time period.
- Free Samples. Offer free samples. Do you have product or services that you can afford to give away for free? Offer to send free samples to people who sign up for your emails.
- Video Gift. Give people a valuable video. Create a screencast video for your audience and teach them new important insights. Or create a tutorial video and learn new skills in a step-by-step way as you would practically do.
- Unique Tool. Develop an online tool. Companies like Hubspot offer online tools that require an email subscription, or Neil Patel, who believes tools can be a better investment than content, offer tools for free without requiring subscription.
Learn more: 10 Powerful Opt-in Incentives That Will Get You More Email Subscribers
- Confirmation Page. Create a custom email subscription confirmation page that welcomes new subscribers into your email community.
- Gratitude. On the confirmation page, show gratitude to new subscribers by offering them a genuine thanks and links to free content they might find valuable.
- SPAM Avoidance. On the same page, request subscribers to add your email address to their contact list to avoid SPAM filtering.
- Sharability. Near the bottom of your confirmation page, add social media links and encourage subscribers to share your subscription with friends.
- Confirmation Email. Create a custom confirmation email that redirects subscribers to your confirmation page after they confirm subscription.
- Welcome Email. Create a custom welcome email that effectively delivers on the opt-in gifts you promised in your opt-in forms.
- Friends & Family. Tell your friends and family about your email subscription. People closest to you are likely to help you in the beginning, and you never know who they know.
- Reengagement. Reengage your old email list. Send an email to subscribers from your old opt-in list inviting them to join your new one.
- Old Contacts. Send individual emails to old business contacts. Even if you haven’t stayed in touch with all of your connections, they might be interested in your emails.
- LinkedIn Connections. Find connections on LinkedIn that work in industries relevant to your email subscription. Send each potential subscriber a unique private message.
- LinkedIn Groups. Introduce your email subscription to targeted LinkedIn Groups. You want to have a presence before promoting your emails so get active early.
- Public Announcement. Make a public announcement on all of your social media accounts to encourage your fans, followers, and connections to sign up for emails. Tailor the post to each audience.
- In-House Promotion. Develop a system for in-house promotion. Encourage your team, but do not require, to reach out to family & friends and promote your subscription on social media accounts.
- Craigslist. Promote your subscription on Craigslist with an ad that highlights the benefits of your subscription. This works best if building a list for a local event or product launch.
- Email Signature. Add a note and a link to your email subscription in your email signature. This gives everyone you email a chance to sign up.
- Paper Sheet. Add a paper sheet at your business where visitors can sign up. Make sure to highlight the incentives of subscribing and place the sheet where people can see it.
- Conversation. Ask people to sign up for your emails in conversation. This works particularly well for B2B. After a meeting with a prospective client, tell them about your newsletter and ask them if they want you to add them.
- Phone calls. Turn phone calls into subscribers. If someone calls you trying to pitch you on their business or you have a call with a prospect or customer, give them a chance to subscribe to your emails. It doesn’t hurt to ask.
- Signage. Use your outdoor or window signage to promote your emails. Let passerby know about the benefits of your emails and give them an easy URL or QR code to easily find your subscription form.
- Print Materials Add-On. Promote your email subscription on all print materials. This works best when you offer irresistible opt-in incentives.
- Dedicated Print Materials. Create postcards or other print materials dedicated to your email subscription. This works great if you have a special club for subscribers or run recurring contests.
- Trade Shows Display. When you have a booth at a trade show, give people an opportunity to sign up for emails. A contest can be encouraging, but make sure people know what they are signing up for.
- Hosting. Organize industry events. Put together a one-time or recurring Meetup, seminar, blogger dinner, or hackathon, and collect emails at each event.
- Industry Events. Attend key industry events such as marketing conferences. Bring your email subscription print materials with you to the next event you go to. Beyond making connections, you might attract new subscribers.
- Direct Mail. Include email marketing in your direct mail campaigns. Request an email address or include a URL and QR code to your subscription page. Encourage direct mail recipients to go paperless.
- Phone Line. Does your business have a phone line? Replace that dreadful elevator music with recordings about your website and email sign up. Even your answering machine can help you get the word out!
- Website Advertising. Advertise your subscription on a site with similar audiences. Getting featured isn’t easy, and advertising placement can get you powerful results.
- Google Advertising. Run an AdWords campaign. Make sure you already offer compelling opt-in incentive and have a landing page for your subscription to direct ad clicks to.
- Social Media Advertising. Run social media ads. Promote your email subscription on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, with highly targeted social advertising. Drive traffic to a subscription landing page.
- Checkout. Place an opt-in form on your checkout page. Checkout is a great time to convert one-time customers into email subscribers. Offering a product discount on a future purchase is a great opt-in incentive.
- Email Receipts. Offer an opt-in option on email receipts. Some people are weary of subscribing during checkout, so make sure you reinforce your subscription benefits and offer an opt-in option directly in email receipts. This could be the reinforcement they need.
- Abandoned Cart. Send abandoned cart emails. When someone leaves your site with products in their cart, it’s important to send an email reminder. Once they come back and complete a purchase, they should have an option to subscribe for email on checkout and in their receipt.
- Special Offer. Offer a product discount in exchange for subscription. This is a great incentive to encourage visitors to sign up for emails. Who wouldn’t sign up for emails if it saves them 10% on their first purchase?
- Recurring Deals. Run recurring deals only available to email subscribers. Give people a reason to sign up for deals. This keeps retention up and gives visitors incentive to sign up.
- Goodbye? Offer an option for subscribers to tell you why they are leaving when they unsubscribe. This helps gives you ideas on how to improve your campaigns.
- Come Back! After subscribers unsubscribe, give them an option to sign back up. This seems contradictory, but you’d be surprised at how quickly you can turn them around with a special deal or a funny photo.
- See You Soon. When you have to take a break, whether it’s for a vacation or family situation, let your audience know. This builds trust and makes sure they don’t forget about you.
- Inner Circle. Develop an inner circle. Do you have a few subscribers that seem to really love your emails? Give these fans an option to become a part of a more exclusive subscription and offer them special deals.
- Spotlight. Feature subscribers. Ask your subscribers to offer their tips or ideas and feature a new subscriber in every issue. This gives subscribers an opportunity to become a part of your team, on a deeper level.
- Suggestions? Ask for suggestions. Don’t be afraid to ask subscribers what they want to see or hear about in your emails. This can help you tailor your content before subscribers do that awful thing they should never do and unsubscribe!
- Check This Out. Tweet a link to your subscription form and tell followers why they should sign up.
- Coming Soon. Tweet about upcoming deals or content available only to email subscribers. Tell your Twitter followers to sign up for emails to get access to the deal or content before you send your email.
- Bio Link. Include a link to your email subscription in your Twitter bio. Use a URL shortening service like bit.ly to avoid taking up too many characters.
- Content. Make sure you have opt-in forms on every page you link to on Twitter. When you promote a new blog post or eBook with a tweet, visitors should be able to easily subscribe.
- Direct Messages. Send a welcome direct message (DM) to new followers and include a link to your email subscription. Some people hate automated DMs, so consider personalizing them to each follower. You can also link to specific content that might interest them.
- Email Tweet Links. Include “tweet this” links in your emails. You can use a service like Click To Tweet to add links to your emails that encourage subscribers to share your emails on Twitter.
- Embedded Tweets. Include tweets in your emails. You can use content from Twitter in your newsletter, and when you do, reach out to those Twitter users and let them know that they were featured. You might want to request permission before using their tweets.
- Incentive Promo. Develop a Twitter campaign to promote one of your eBooks or email courses. As long as you have your opt-in process optimized, driving traffic to your content is always a great way to build your list.
- Miss It? Send a “did you miss our newsletter” tweet. No one enjoys feeling left out, especially if other people that follow him or her received something that they didn’t.
- Thank you. Thank people or send retweets to people who are tweeting about your business, newsletter or emails. This adds exposure to those who may have missed your tweets about your emails.
- #Hashtag. Join discussions and mention your site. You can target your audience by observing hashtags and joining appropriate discussions. Once followers begin reading and retweeting, it’s easier to grab their interest in your newsletter signups.
- Subscription Tab. Add a subscription tab to your Facebook page. Design a beautiful call-to-action image for the tab and link it to your subscription page. Or use Facebook Email Sign Up to create one in minutes.
- Content Tab. Create tab for gated content in your Facebook page. You can build a custom tab that houses your free ebooks, email courses, or other content that requires email signup to access.
- Contest. Run a contest on Facebook that collects emails for entry. Learn how to do this in my recent post on how to integrate email and social media.
- Cover Talk. Add a call-to-action in your Facebook page cover. Include a message that encourages people to sign up for emails in your cover.
- Pay To Play. Run a Facebook ad or create a promoted post that highlights your subscription.
SOCIAL MEDIA CONTINUED
- YouTube. Promote your emails in YouTube videos. At the end of videos, encourage viewers to sign up for emails. Include an ending slide with a visible URL for your subscription page. This also works well with explainer video’s you may use on your own site but have a copy on youtube. In video descriptions, you can add a link to your subscription page or a piece of related content.
- Communities. Share your email subscription in a community. Just like any other social network, online communities can live everywhere,
- Vine + Instagram. Create a short video for Instagram or Vine that tells people about the benefits to your emails. You can share your video on other social sites and embed it in a blog post.
- Pinterest. Promote on Pinterest. Create “Pins” that link to blog posts and especially content on your site that requires email signups, like eBooks or email courses.
- Leaders. Learn from the best. Want to know how to use social media to better reach new eyeballs? Take a peek at what other prominent bloggers and other thought leaders are doing in your space to build their email audience via social.
- Talk To Audience. Engage your audience while you create your emails. When you’re working on a newsletter design or content for your next send, don’t hesitate to tweet about why you like working on it and why you find it interesting.
- Something New. Get out of your Twitter and Facebook comfort zone, and jump into the world of Pinterest TikTok. The more platforms you’re on, the more opportunity you have to reach new users.
- Follow Us. Encourage users to follow you on different platforms. If someone already follows you on one social network, give them an option to connect with you on another channel and you build a deeper connection. The deeper the connection, the more the chances they have to find your content and eventually subscribe.
- Become The Solution. Were you hoping to find a way to integrate your social media with your email acquisition but found the options available lacking? Create a better way! There’s no better way to become an authority than creating the next great tool.
- Buttons. Make your content easy to share on social media. Add social media buttons at the bottom or on the side of your blog posts and emails to encourage readers to share your content with one click.
- Content. Create posts that highlight specific incentives that you use to promote your email list. Promote each incentive separately on all social channels.
OTHER ONLINE TACTICS
- Guest Blogging. Guest blog on industry sites that target an audience likely interested in your emails. Make sure to link to your email subscription page in your author bio. You can also link to your emails in the post, but only if it is genuinely relevant.
- Partner Up! Team up with a partner or affiliate site and run joint promotions. Hosting a webinar with a partner site or running a collaborative blog series can help you attract a valuable audience, or people who instantly trust you, to your site and your emails.
- Blog Link. Mention your email subscription in the context of your article. Try to tastefully slip in a hyperlink to your email signup. It makes for a good article.
- Industry Talk. Engage on industry sites. Is there a blog that you read regularly? If you have true value to add, leave a comment. People will recognize your tips and click on you, finding your website, and eventually will find your email. Don’t comment just to comment. There is enough noise already online.
- Interviews. Unless someone wants to interview you for a site that goes against your beliefs, do the interview. Showcase your expertise and make sure to drop your URL and tell the audience about your emails. Embrace your inner celebrity! 😉
- Outside The Box. Contribute outside of your niche. Take your expertise to a leading site in another industry, create a guest post that benefits that audience, and watch your list grow. This is a great way to reach new markets and try new guest blogging tactics.
- Start A Conversation. Content marketing expert Andy Crestodina wrote a great article on how to start a conversation online. A new connection can often lead to a new email subscriber, directly or indirectly.
- Speak Up. Turn any interaction into an opportunity. Anytime someone engages with your site by posting a comment or doing anything interactive, try to get a prompt in front of them to get them on your email list.
- Be The Answer. Actively seek out questions on discussion boards, like Quora, on topics related to your industry. Provide detailed, thorough responses for people. This establishes your expertise and will ultimately drive traffic to your site and help you grow your list.
- Get In Touch. Contact key targets in your industry. Don’t be afraid to reach out to important thought leaders in your space via email or Twitter. Let them know about your emails and you might open up a world of cross promotion or add value to them and their business.
- Go Local. Don’t sleep on locality. Look for prominent businesses and bloggers and news publications in your community. Reach out to them, and let them know about your emails. People are generally more likely to support other locals to help enrich the community.
- Clean It Up. Get rid of your website design clutter. When you give people too many options on your website, they often walk away and choose to do absolutely nothing. Clean up your website and watch your list grow!
- Patience. Email marketing can be quite a bit like fishing. Just because something doesn’t take at first doesn’t mean you should completely abandon your fishing hole right away. Take the time to test out your ideas before moving on and trying a new one.
- Keep Learning. Never think you know it all as there is always something new coming on the horizon. Every list like this you read is merely capturing the best practices of internet marketing today.
Building an email list is a long-term commitment. To implement the tactics above, consider an incremental approach, testing each tactic individually to discover what works for you. Along the way, I’m sure you’ll come up with dozens of tricks of your own! How do you grow your email list? Any ideas to add here? Leave a comment below and keep the ideas flowing! 🙂
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