Any marketing expert will tell you one of the most valuable assets your business can have is a good, strong email list. The best lists grow organically and increase in size due to hard work on the part of the site owner, but how do you achieve this? Here is my straightforward five-step plan for building a great e-mail list and keeping them engaged.
1. Sign Up to an Email Marketing Provider
There is a huge range of great email marketing software providers out there, many of them free or available at a range of subscription prices and they offer insight and analytics based on your campaigns and make it easy to both build lists and send out your content.
The most popular and regularly used email marketing providers are:
A company with over 10 million users who make it easy for you to send marketing emails, create targeted campaigns and send automated messages. Detailed reporting helps make MailChimp so popular.
A company who offers a constantly evolving opt-in email marketing service which is used by over 120,000 businesses, bloggers and entrepreneurs.
A company with over 350,000 customers in 182 different countries and often described as the easiest email marketing platform to get to grips with. This is also a provider I use and praise a lot!:)
Once you have chosen your email marketing provider it is time to create your sign-up process and a recommend a two-step process or double opt-in for the best results.
Two-Step Opt-In Process vs Double Opt-In
A Two-Step Opt-In Process means you provide a link or button on your website and then readers will click this link and the opt-in form will pop up for them to subscribe and sign up. The logic behind the two-step process is that the user has already made the decision to sign up when they’ve clicked the button and therefore you get a higher number of people signing up as with a simple form they can just scroll past.
Whilst with double opt-in, subscribers complete the double opt-in process by filling out your signup form first and then confirming subscription to your list.
I use double opt-in in my process, but I heard some have very good results with a two-step opt-in, so decision is yours:)
2. Offer Something Helpful (and Free!)
Why should anyone sign up to your email list? What’s in it for them? The answer should be something worthwhile, valuable and interesting to them. You want them to engage with your content so offer them something for free.
This could be anything from an in-depth guide like my SEO eBook, to a simple checklist in your skills area, an informative webinar, free short course or a handy cheatsheet. In all instances, these free resources will score you bonus points with your users and the idea that there’s a freebie coming when they fill in a simple form is very appealing to many people.
Of course, your freebie can’t be just anything, it needs to provide a real added value for your target audience. You need to provide them with something helpful and informative and that shows you have plenty of great content to offer.
3. Make it Visible
How will anyone know you even have email content to sign up for? You have to make it visible and ensure people know you’re offering something they won’t want to miss out on! The first step in this process is to create your landing page. Your landing page should be as simple as possible, include a great call to action and make it clear what you’re offering in return for the email sign up. Once you have your landing page in place, it’s time to start putting it out there.
There is a wide range of methods and ways of adding a sign-up/subscription form to your site and you can use a combination of the below or select those which work for your needs:
Lightbox Pop-Up Forms
These work by standing out whilst the rest of the site is darkened, which focuses the whole attention of the reader on your form.
Exit Pop-Up Forms
A great way to capture users who are just about to exit your site. Exit forms pop-up just as users are about to bounce or have just bounced. They are a great tool for preventing lost leads.
Do just what they say they do! With a good scroll form, you can choose exactly when you want it to pop up or slide in, to suit the content you have written and ensured it is timed perfectly for the reader.
Having a form positioned in your widget area is very straightforward and easily seen by all readers.
A further subscription form at the bottom of blog posts in the footer space ensures that people who have read and enjoyed a post aren’t missing out on the chance of enjoying more.
Including a form within your blog posts is a great idea if you’re writing a promotional post or want a great way of concluding a post in a positive way.
Top Bar Forms
Plugins like Hello Bar are a great choice as they are one of the first things a reader on your site will see. It is a narrow bar on the top of a page that reminds about benefits of subscribing to the newsletter or just includes the email, signup form!
4. Promote It!
Once everything is ready and setup, you can’t expect your target audience to start pouring in unless you actually target them!
Promoting your new content is essential but it’s important you are careful not to flood the market and become annoying.
You need to first have a good relationship built up with your target audience community, this can come from commenting on other blogs and interacting on social media.
Once you have a good network of like-minded people in your sector, you can start approaching them for guest post opportunities and ask if they’d like to interview you.
Similarly, you can link to other bloggers in your posts and articles, and this is more likely to encourage them to share and expand the reach of your content.
5. Test, Test and Test!
Every element of your campaign should be rigorously tested. Without testing, you can’t possibly know how successful the campaign will be and you might feel very disappointed when it doesn’t deliver the results you were expecting, but also the financial cost of growing your email list may skyrocket! You should test every element of your campaign to ensure it is primed to deliver.
Start from testing different designs, the triggers, the form types you plan to use and of course the freebies you’re offering as well. Every test should be carried out with your target audience in mind to ensure your content is entirely focused on their needs and requirements.
Many of the email marketing software providers, offer a built-in A/B testing solution, which is a simple functionality that helps you compare two versions of a web page to see which one performs better.
An email list which you can be proud of is a great tool for spreading the word about your blog and growing it naturally through your own hard work is incredibly rewarding too! There are decisions to be made such as which software provider to use and choosing between different designs and forms but once the subscribers start signing up you’ll feel great. Do you have any email marketing experiences you’d like to share? What’s your number one tip for email marketing success?