- Why is building an email or newsletter subscriber list important?
- How can I help people understand the value in signing up for my emails or newsletter?
- How can I use my online content to convince people to sign up?
Imagine you’re at a business conference, networking like a pro. You meet someone who seems like a great contact to have in future. But you wait too long to ask for their business card and lose them in the crowd of people rushing to get free conference T-shirts. It’s a lost opportunity. Now, imagine this situation is about your business engaging with a new customer.
If you don’t ask to keep in touch with the customer, you might lose the chance to reach out to them later. However, if you ask for their email address at the right moment, you can add them to your email marketing list. But is email marketing really worth all that effort?
“91% of people check their email every day, and you can tailor your message for different recipients. Plus, email marketing is fairly straightforward to set up – which is why a lot of businesses use it as one of their first marketing channels. On top of that tracking engagement rates is easy, so you can know whether your marketing is working.”
In order to do email marketing, you need to build an email list of current and potential customers who’d welcome seeing your business in their inboxes.
Buying a pre-populated email list might be tempting. But, think about how you feel when you get unsolicited emails from random people or companies. Not great, right? You most likely hit the trash or spam button.
So, you don’t want your business to be seen as a nuisance and put on the dreaded spam list. That’s why it’s best to build your email list organically – AKA, get the people you engage with to say, “yes, I’d love to hear from you again.”
Tip: The content of your emails is a hugely important part of getting people to sign up and not unsubscribe. Emails are valuable when they’re useful, timely, or interesting to recipients. For example exclusive discounts, holiday gift reminders, relevant tips and tricks, etc.
Getting people to sign up for your list is a bit like being a salesperson for your emails. You need to communicate their value quickly and persuasively.
What are the benefits of receiving your emails? How can you put those benefits into calls to action (CTAs) that would encourage sign-ups? For example: “What’s for dinner? Get delicious, easy recipes delivered straight to your inbox.”
Make sure your CTAs stay true to your brand voice and personality and try not to get too pushy. Let people know that it’s okay for them to say no. Make sure you include both a “Sign Up” button and a “No Thanks” or “Sign Up Later” button.
Put the same amount of thought into the forms you’ll use to collect people’s email addresses. It can be a make-it or break-it moment for your email list.
Make it as easy and as streamlined as possible for people to give you their information. Instead of sending them to another page when they click your sign up button, let them enter their emails on the same screen as your CTA.
Also, don’t ask for too much information. The more boxes people have to fill out, the less likely they are to finish the form. Yes, ask for their name and email address, but maybe leave out “What city do you live in?” and “what’s your spirit animal?”
Tools: Email list and newsletter managing tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact usually have form builders that you can customize and then embed on your site and other online properties.
When you have your CTAs and forms ready, you can have them appear in a variety of locations and at different times, and then test what works best.
Some locations you can try are your site’s homepage and product pages, a sidebar and splash screen on your blog and social media pages.
Also, play around with the most effective moments for your CTA to appear. For example: when someone finishes reading your blog post, when they create a profile on your site, or when they complete a purchase.
To help see which mixtures of CTA message, location, and timing are most effective, you can do A/B testing – which is pitting different combinations against each other to see which ones win out (get the most email list sign-ups).
Remember: You want to deliver the right message in the right place at the right time. Let people fall in love with you before you propose. A new site visitor may not understand your business’ value yet, so having your CTA appear the moment they land on your homepage might not be effective.
Of course, your CTAs can only succeed if people are engaging with your site, blogs and social media activity – which is where content strategy comes in.
A good content strategy can draw people to your site, blogs, and social media profiles, help them appreciate what they see there, and encourage them to sign up for more (AKA get on your email list).
By content, we mean articles, posts, whitepapers, infographics, etc. Just like your emails, they should be useful, timely, or interesting to your audience. A smart strategy is to have your email link to this content on your site or blog.
You can also try social media strategies. Use social media to spread your content and get people interested. Then ask them to sign up for your email list. You can even embed an email signup form into your social media posts.
As a general rule, check with your legal department or a lawyer to make sure you’re complying with email marketing laws in the area your business is operating in.
Do this now: As we mentioned before, email marketing can be fast and relatively easy to set up. To help, let’s create a to-do list of steps you can take to prepare yourself:
- Set up a website, landing page or blog that can host your email sign up form.
- Set up social media profiles.
- Research and choose an email marketing provider/tool.
- Make a list of email content ideas that are useful, timely, or interesting.
- Evaluate the value of the current content on your site, blog, and social media profiles.
- Brainstorm useful, timely and interesting ideas for the future site, blog, and social media content.
References: Google Webmasters, Think With Google, Google Primer