Your email list is one of the most important assets you have, whether you run a small local business or a multinational corporation.
Why? Because it’s yours. You built it.
Social media followers are nice to have, and we definitely recommend engaging with your audience on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. (Or even TikTok, maybe). But you can't rely on social media too heavily because you don't control the channel—the social media companies do.
Businesses learned this the hard way back in the early 2010s. After many organizations built large followings, Facebook changed their algorithms and organizations’ organic visibilities plummeted, making it more difficult and more expensive for companies to reach the audiences they worked hard to build.
This won't happen with email marketing because there's no third-party between you and your audience.
Email is the most reliable way to reach your buyers and prospects, build relationships with them, and encourage them to make purchases. But before you start cranking out top-notch marketing emails, you need to build a list of subscribers.
In this article, we’ll discuss how to do exactly that.
How to grow your email list (the right way)
As your email marketing list grows, each message you send will have a bigger potential impact for your company. Here are five tips you can use to increase your subscriber count.
1. Collect email addresses everywhere
The easiest way to grow your email list is to simply ask people to join.
Consider adding sign-up forms in strategic places across your website, such as your site's header and footer, in the sidebar, and throughout your blog posts.
You can also experiment with pop-up boxes. These are forms that appear in the middle of users' computer screens after they take specific actions, such as scrolling down web pages.
Most e-commerce companies collect email addresses during the checkout process. This is a fantastic list-building technique because it will allow you to keep customers updated on order statuses in the short-term, and send them marketing messages in the future. SaaS companies can do the same thing by collecting the email addresses for any visitor who signs up for a free trial.
List-building isn’t just for digital-only businesses, of course. If you own a brick and mortar store, create a sign-up sheet and put it near the register, then transfer those email addresses to your email marketing software each week.
2. Offer incentives for joining your list
Here's the thing: Even if you consistently ask people to subscribe to your email list, most of them won't unless you give them a compelling reason. That's why you need to offer an incentive, AKA a lead magnet. There are plenty of ways to do this. For instance, you could offer...
Discounts: Many retail and ecommerce stores offer one-time percentage discounts to people who subscribe to their email list. You know what we're talking about: "Join our list and receive 15% off your first order."
These offers are effective because we all like saving money—especially on products we already plan to purchase. Using discounts to drive email signups isn’t as common in the B2B world, but they can still be effective for B2B products with a short sales cycle.
Downloadables: A downloadable is any resource that can be downloaded in exchange for an email address. The best downloadables address specific problems and provide quick solutions to them.
The most common examples are ebooks and white papers, although templates, checklists, and exclusive videos are popular as well.
Email courses: An email course is similar to an online course, except lessons on specific topics are emailed to subscribers at predetermined intervals. They allow companies to offer value, while building relationships. They also don't require fancy design—plain text messages often work well—and can be automated.
Free tools: If you have the ability, consider creating a free tool that your audience can access for free after giving you their email address. The free SEO data provided by Ubersuggest is a good example.
By helping your audience accomplish a goal, you'll become a trusted resource, so when you email them product offers in the future, they'll be more receptive.
Remember, if your lead magnet isn’t genuinely helpful, users will not want to share their email address to obtain it.
3. Use social media effectively
Earlier we talked about the perils of relying solely on social media, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use these platforms at all. They can be useful, especially when used for building your own list. Here are a few ways you can use social media to grow your subscriber count:
- Add a CTA button on Facebook: Facebook enables page admins to add CTA buttons to their Facebook pages. One of these buttons allows companies to collect email addresses. Add one to your page to help generate subscribers.
- Advertise your lead magnets: You can also use your social media pages to promote your lead magnets. Post a link to your gated ebook, free email course, or discount offer. Then watch as your followers click on it and join your list.
- Promote a giveaway or contest: Looking to step outside the box with your list-building efforts? Promote a giveaway or contest that people can join by giving you their email address. If your prize is enticing enough, you'll gain subscribers.
Social media is a valuable tool—especially if you use it to build your email list. Implement these ideas to connect with new subscribers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others.
4. Run an email list-building campaign
Are you ready to get serious about your email list building efforts? Then it's time to run a campaign to net your company new subscribers. Here are a few proven strategies:
Well-executed Facebook ads will help you turn Facebook and Instagram users into email list subscribers for your company. Social Media Examiner has a great, in-depth post on this topic, but here's a quick run-down to get you started:
- Create your lead magnet: Your Facebook ad needs to advertise something in order to convince users to subscribe. Create a lead magnet that speaks directly to the audience you're targeting and pack it with as much value as possible.
- Design a landing page: You want to drive Facebook traffic to a specific landing page, not your website home page. That way potential subscribers don't get confused and/or distracted from the task at hand: signing up for your list.
- Build an email sequence: Once someone subscribes to your list, you need to send them your lead magnet. Build an automated sequence that delivers your offer in the first message, then works to build a relationship with them in emails three through four.
- Start your Facebook campaign: Access your Facebook page and create an ad in the Ads Manager section. Make sure your copy is enticing and well targeted. We also suggest tracking your efforts to make sure they're effective.
Writing guest posts on high-traffic websites can be a great way to connect with potential subscribers. But you have to go about the process the right way:
- Target the right blogs: Where does your ideal audience hang out online? Seek guest blogging opportunities on these sites. It probably doesn't make sense to post on wellness websites if you work for a SaaS company—even if the site has a lot of traffic.
- Write great content: Once you've locked down a guest posting opportunity, work hard to create stellar content. Nobody will join your list if your post is subpar. This kind of content may even hurt your brand's reputation.
- Drive traffic effectively: If your goal is to gain new email subscribers, then you need to promote your lead magnet in your guest posts. But most blogs won't let you do this in your content. Instead, post a link in the author byline section.
Partner with other brands
Who says list-building has to be a solo venture? Partnering with other brands who serve a similar target audience, but aren't direct competitors, is a fantastic way to introduce your company to future subscribers. There are two main ways to do this:
- Promo swaps: You have an email list, they have an email list…why not promote each other's brands to your own audiences in your next email newsletter? Like always, make sure the email promoting your brand promotes your lead magnet. This will give your partner's audience a reason to check out your company and subscribe.
- Co-marketing: Co-marketing happens when two companies create one piece of content together. Both companies then market the piece on their own and share the leads they generate. It's a great strategy if you can find the right partner because it reduces the burden of both content creation and content marketing.
5. Create amazing email content
Last, but certainly not least, create amazing email content that your audience loves. If you do, your subscribers will keep subscribing. This is important since the average email list decays by 25% every year. You can't build a thriving email list if your subscribers don't stick around.
Happy subscribers are also more likely to forward your emails to their friends, family, and colleagues, thus exposing your brand to additional people who may subscribe as well.
There are three main criteria for an "amazing" email:
- Valuable: Every email you send should offer genuine value. Just remember that value comes in many different forms. For example an email that teaches subscribers how to do something important to them (or links to an article or video that does) is valuable. But so is an email that entertains them or makes them laugh.
- Targeted: What's valuable to one subscriber might not be valuable to another. That's why it's vital you target your emails, which you can do by segmenting your list. To segment your list, divide your subscribers into like-minded groups, based on their industry, interests, or other shared attribute. Then only email each segment the kind of content you know they'll enjoy.
- Engaging: Finally, your emails need to be engaging. Valuable information delivered to the right people won't benefit your business if it's a chore to read. Write in a conversational tone, use images if it fits your brand, and otherwise spice up your emails so that they engage your readers from the first word to the last.
You have to have subscribers before you can send them amazing emails. That's why we put this list-building tip last. But high-quality content is the fuel that makes the entire email marketing engine go. So don't skimp out and send subpar communications!
Build your business with email
Your company's email list is incredibly valuable, which is why you need to constantly work to grow it. The five techniques listed above will help. Just remember to analyze every strategy you try to determine if it works for your organization or not.