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So, you know why you need an email list for your business – but, how exactly do you build an email list from scratch? Is it as simple as just adding a box to your website and asking people to sign up for your newsletter? No, it’s not. Here is how to build an email list for your business.
I recently wrote about some of the best free ways to market your business. Email marketing is one of these, and today we're looking at how you can start building an email list.
If you missed my podcast interview with Two Girls and a Laptop, we spoke about how important email marketing is and what great ROI it can have for your business. Sure, it can cost a bit to build your email list (if you're trying to grow it quickly with Facebook ads or Google Adwords etc.) but once these people are on your list, you can market to them for free. That's pretty awesome.
Besides, there are plenty of other free ways to grow your email list too. The legit way, that is. Not the dodgy way. I'm all about growing your email list the right way and not building it the wrong way by spamming people and doing other dodgy things.
We spoke about this briefly in my chat with Two Girls and a Laptop. Basically, if you're using any method of adding people to your email list, where they have not specifically opted in, then you're not doing it the right way.
One thing I see quite often is people going through Facebook Groups and finding threads where people have put their email addresses. For example, if someone has put a call out for help and people have responded with their email addresses. People often go through those threads and copy all email addresses in it. I know this because I've been one of those people who've been spammed and I'm sure a lot of you have too. So, just don't do it. It's not a good look for your brand.
The easiest way to build your email list is to give them an incentive to sign up. My favourite type of incentive is a free piece of content, so something like a cheat sheet, an ebook or a template.
In this post, I'm going to run you through the steps in setting up your email list-building system so that you can grow your email list on autopilot. And when your email list growth is on autopilot, it means you don’t have to stress about where your next sale is from.
I use and recommend Kajabi for both. It is an all-in-one tool you can use to build everything in your business, from your website through to creating and selling digital products (like online courses).
This is a freebie that you offer someone in return for their email address. It’s usually full of value because you want to give people something really fair in return for giving you their email address. This might be a a free ebook, a cheat sheet, a free training – the list goes on and on.
It should be of value to your audience, so it should be something that they actually want. If you're going down the free voucher route, you need to consider the value of your voucher. For example, a $5 voucher when you sell $1,000 handbags isn't really enough of an incentive for someone to hand over their email address.
You also have to consider where you place the opt-in form. For example, if it's a pop-up that pops up immediately when they land on your website, how do you know that they actually want a $10 voucher, when they don't even know what you sell yet.
Your free opt-in doesn’t need to be a huge freebie, but it should be valuable enough that it incentivises your audience to hand over their precious email address. It should add enough value that the subscriber starts to trust your brand and becomes curious about how great your paid products or services are.
The real trick is to give away as much value as possible without removing the need for them to buy from you. That’s why it works well to create an opt-in that gives them a desired outcome.
For example, you could teach them a skill inside a 5-day challenge, or you could give them a checklist that will help them achieve something.
Maybe you could try a checklist? A cheat sheet? An e-book? A webinar? An in-person event?
There are so many different types of content you can give away for free – you just need to decide what format it will be in.
Write down everything you can think of including as a part of this freebie and then cull all the unnecessary stuff that doesn’t bring them any closer to achieving the desired end result.
Once you’ve done that, rearrange it to give it a bit of structure.
Usually, it’s going to feel like you’re giving away a little too much for free, but chances are you aren’t.
Now you’ll want to go through everything you’ve written down with a fine-tooth comb and make sure it flows and makes sense. Proofread it at this stage if you’re doing a written lead magnet, like an ebook or a cheat sheet, because once you’ve put it into a PDF or slides it becomes really painful to fix typos.
Ask yourself: what does it mean to the audience? If it doesn’t add value to your audience – delete it.
How you do this will depend on the format of your opt-in. If you head to my small business marketing tools page you’ll find some of my favourite resources for creating opt-ins that look pretty. Apps like Canva make creating a pretty PDF really simple and available to anyone, regardless of whether you have design skills or not.
The key here is not to overthink it and keep it really simple. Remember: White space is a good thing! Also, make sure your lead magnet aligns with your brand look and feel – meaning it has consistent colours, fonts and imagery to all your other brand touchpoints.
For example: If the colours on your Instagram are red and white, don’t suddenly go and make your ebook green.
Find someone you know who fits your ideal customer or client profile and ask them to take a look at your free opt-in. Once you’ve got their feedback, make any further edits.
Now you’re ready to upload your opt-in.
I personally really like Kajabi. It only just recently brought out webinar capability, but it’s really good for building your entire funnel in one place, so you don’t need to have a separate email marketing tool and a separate landing page tool. I have a free trial available for you and I highly recommend trying it out.
If your free opt-in is an ebook or an audio or video file, you’ll need to host it somewhere too. You can host it on your website by uploading the file, but if it’s quite a large file this will take up some of your website’s bandwidth and potentially slow down your website. I recommend hosting it on Dropbox or Google Drive, but make sure that when you do that the link sharing is set to public.
This step doesn't apply if you're using the $10 voucher type of opt-in, but it does if you're using a digital freebie or any other kind of opt-in. You want to have the opt-in form on a landing page.
What's the landing page, you ask? It's a page designed with one single goal in mind, and that goal is to get that visitor to opt in and join your email list. You essentially want to make the page as simple as possible – so, no distractions that would take them away from the goal. That means even removing your usual navigation links that you'd have in your header menu.
Your opt-in download page is the page where somebody can fill out a form with their email address and be sent the free opt-in in return. When they fill out the form, it will add them to your email list, and it triggers an email that sends them the freebie.
You also want to include a few lines or bullet points of copy that tells the reader what's in it for them.
Most small business owners will start building an email list, but never do anything with that list. Maybe, 4 weeks down the track, they'll run a promo and they'll email the list then – but it's too late. The people who signed up aren't as hot as they were when they opted in. They might even have forgotten that they opted in and report you as spam. Which means you then end up in people's junk mail folders and in fewer inboxes.
So, stay front-of-mind by using a nurture sequence.
What's a nurture sequence? It's a series of emails that you send automatically when someone signs up. How many emails you send and how far apart is something you should test. Generally, 3 emails over the course of a week works pretty well.
I've written a step-by-step blog post on how to build a nurture sequence here.
I’ve come across a lot of people who manually send out their freebies to each and every person who signs up, simply because they don’t know how to automate it. This makes me really sad because it’s so easy to automate, and it seems so overwhelming and complicated if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Once all the systems are in place, all you need to do now is promote your free opt-in. So, advertise it with Facebook Ads. Tell your Instagram followers about it. Put it on your homepage. Anywhere where people are coming into contact with your business, you want to take the opportunity to try and capture them onto your email list. Remember, once they’re on your list, you can build trust with them and start to nurture them into paying customers or clients.
Don't only email your subscribers when you want to promote something. Email them value – like blog posts or other content that they might find interesting. It's a “give, give, give, ask” kind of mindset. Give them lots of value before you ask for the sale.
Not sure what to write? Here's what you should send to your email list.
And that's all there is to it. Email Marketing is a pretty easy topic, but it's so often over-complicated by small business owners. So, just try to keep it as simple as possible. And, if you haven't already, go out there and start building an email list.
I've looked at each step in more detail in each of these blog posts:
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I help online entrepreneurs (like you!) to build a profitable online business that keeps growing even when they're offline.