As soon as you set up your online store, you should start collecting addresses to add to your email list. This is one of the very first things that all small businesses should do – before they start creating unmissable videos or running competitions and sales, and well before expanding their product range.
With a well-populated email list, you can reach out to customers whenever you need to. Because they have signed on via your site, email contacts will probably already have an interest in what you sell, leading to high conversion rates. That’s why email lists are indispensable. There’s no better way to communicate with people who are engaged with your business.
But what are some surefire ways of quickly building a solid email list?
Design Your Site to Attract Sign-Ups
Your landing pages and home page are the most important part of the list building process. These are the places where casual browsers will find out what you have to offer and decide whether they would like to know more.
This means that your site needs to direct customers towards easy to use, accessible sign-up forms. Don’t tuck them away on separate pages or hide them at the bottom of the screen. Include them in the body of the page, right underneath persuasive content that motivates people to enter their details. Try to keep the information required to a minimum. People don’t like giving away their phone number or address, so stick to emails. Anything else can be added in email surveys or post-purchase feedback forms.
In some cases, you might also want to consider adding a pop-up to be shown when visitors leave your site. This can be limited to people who visit for a certain amount of time (to ensure that it is seen by engaged visitors). However, pop-ups can be irritating. People leaving your site may still intend to return, even if they don’t engage. An intrusive pop-up form could turn them off for good.
Provide Content that Encourages People to Sign-Up
A well-designed site needs to be complemented by well-written and produced content. This is the bait that hooks site visitors, turning them into engaged fans of your company who are intrigued by what you have to offer. Badly written landing pages and blogs won’t cut it. You need to source or produce copy that informs visitors who you are, what you do, and what you can do for them.
Always include language that energizes and inspires, and try to lead customers from discovery to understanding and then to engagement. By following this three stage process, you can quickly introduce yourself and spark their interest. After a concise call-to-action, they should be ready to enter their details to join your list.
Make Your Content and Email Newsletters Shareable
When you have signed up engaged customers to your email list, that shouldn’t be the end of the story. A single list member has the potential to spread the word about your company to everyone they know. Friends tend to have similar interests, so awareness of your products or services can quickly spread through social networks, if you make your content shareable.
It should be common sense by now to add Twitter and Facebook buttons to your blogs and other content. However, it’s less obvious to add them to your email messages. When you work via email, you can also harness networks of friends on Google+, so offer contacts the option of telling their friends en masse if they desire. Alternatively, a simple “email this article to a friend” button will do the job.
Offer Real Value to Subscribers
Most email lists provide regular messages, but very little actual value for subscribers. That’s probably why they tend to experience high attrition rates as people drop off the lists, having been sent uninspiring, dull marketing materials.
You need to avoid becoming seen as spam. That’s a fundamental of email marketing. But it’s not easy to achieve. Every message you send should offer a new angle or piece of information about your products, and it should feature relevant videos and blogs that help readers use your products.
Offering a reward for existing and potential subscribers is another essential element of a good email marketing strategy. If people know that your company offers competitions, free items and discounts to subscribers, they will be more likely to spread the word, and less likely to unsubscribe.
Promote Your Email List on Social Media
You’ve probably already set up a Twitter account for your business. That’s great, but is it generating leads for your email list? If not, be sure to tweet every few days about the reasons to sign-up and include a link to the subscription form. Tweet about your competitions as well, and engage with customers when they make enquiries. If they ask about your products, there’s nothing wrong with giving them the information they need, along with a short ad for your email list. They will appreciate the help and may well choose to engage because of it.
Whenever you release content via social media, you need to include a CTA directing readers or viewers to sign up. That applies as much to expert blogs on your site or others, as it does to YouTube videos. Always include a link to your landing pages on every piece of content you create.
You can also use Facebook ads to attract sign-ups. One great way to do so is to include a giveaway contest in your ad, and make entry conditional upon entering an email address. That way, you can attract subscribers using the free product as an enticement.
Don’t Treat Email List Building as an Optional Extra
Building email lists is not an add-on for small businesses, it’s a necessity. Some studies from the Direct Marketing Association have found that email marketing returns $40 for every $1 spent, with a much higher conversion rate than paid ads or SEO.
Don’t ease up on your list building efforts. As long as you are growing your online business, you should be building your contacts and providing them with inspirational marketing material. Don’t relax when you have 10,000 subscribers. Keep going, and turn those 10,000 into 100,000 or more. You’ll find it gets easier, the more engaged customers you accumulate, and you’ll also see revenues going through the roof.