The Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Email List
By Olivia Dello Buono February 13, 2017
You could be starting from 10. (Or zero.) But you need to start somewhere, right? Find out how you can start growing your email list from scratch.
This blog post is the third installment of our new series, The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. For eight weeks, we’re featuring a new article that covers a specific area of focus in email marketing! Last week, we wrote about planning your email marketing strategy. This week, it’s all about list growth! Want a sneak peek into the content? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing.
Growing your email list is one of the best things you can do for your business. That’s because, unlike other channels, you own your list.
Here’s what Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media, has to say about it:
“Email marketing means ownership. Along with direct traffic (which is difficult to control) email marketing is the only source of traffic that isn’t coming from a company. It’s not Google. It’s not Facebook. It’s not Twitter. It’s mine.”Email marketing means ownership. It's not Google. It's not Facebook. It's mine. - @crestodina Click To Tweet
Think of it like this: Growing an audience on a platform like Facebook or Twitter is a lot like renting a space. You wouldn’t spend a lot of time and effort building something that wasn’t really yours. Your email list, however, is yours alone to take with you. Those subscribers opted in to your list because they want to hear from you.
But when you’re just getting started, you’re probably wondering how on earth you’re going to get people over to your list in the first place.
You could be starting from 10. (Or zero.) But you need to start somewhere, right?
Read on for quick and easy-to-implement ways you can start growing your email list today!
Audio learner? Check out the podcast version of this post or watch the YouTube video:
Think quality over quantity
You might think the key to success is getting 10,000 subscribers overnight. But it’s not about having a massive list. It’s about having the right people on your list who are engaged and interested in your products and services.
“As my list has grown, I’ve just remained focused on the next metric right ahead of me. First it was just to hit 200 subscribers, then 300 subscribers, then 400 subscribes. Eventually the goal was 1,000 subscribers, then 2,000 etc. etc. As I’ve gone past 10,000 and 20,000 and beyond I’ve actually started to focus more not on the sheer number but on engagement.” – John Corcoran, Smart Business RevolutionFocus more not on the sheer number but on engagement. - @JohnCorcoran Click To Tweet
To start growing your list and attracting the right subscribers, here are 10 key tips that you can follow:
1. Create a sign up form
A sign up form is where your website visitors submit their email address and other information in order to subscribe to your email list. These forms typically live on the sidebar or header of your website, but can display as a pop up or slide-in form as well.
A good sign up form is a key part of your email marketing strategy, as it’s essential to growing your list. Without one, people wouldn’t have any place to subscribe to your emails and you’d be missing out on potential leads.
Your sign up form is also the place where you convince those visitors as to why they should sign up for your emails. The more thorough you are with your headline and description, the easier it’ll be to convert those visitors into leads.
2. Add your form to your website
As we mentioned before, your sign up form doesn’t have to be a static element on your page. There are a few different types of forms that can give you very different results.
Static form – An embedded sign up form is one of the most common types of forms that you probably think of for attracting website visitors to subscribe to your list. These are static blocks that you can embed on your homepage, sidebar, at the end of a blog post or even on its own dedicated page.
Pop up form – Perhaps the most “in-your-face” option, these types of forms have a high likelihood of conversion. A pop up form appears over your web page and gives more attention to convey the value of your list. Many sign up form creation tools will allow you to customize the length of time at which a pop up form appears on your site (we recommend ~45 seconds, but testing is key).
Notification bar form – These types of forms sit at the top of your website or blog. They’re nice because they’re not as invasive as a pop up form and won’t get lost like a static form. It’s a great way to capture new visitors straight from your site!
Slide in form – This is a less invasive form than a pop up, but still helps capture your visitors’ attention when they are scrolling through your content. As they make their way through your content, a slide-in form will appear about 3/4 down the page. This is the perfect time to get people who are engaging with your content to sign up for your list.
Take advantage of your most highly trafficked pages and make sure your sign up form is prominently displayed. This could be your website homepage or blog. The location can also influence which type of form you decide to use, so keep that into consideration to create the best experience for your website visitors.
3. Emphasize the value
Your sign up form should clearly explain the value someone will get when they subscribe to your list. What will they get when they sign up? How often should they expect to hear from you? Setting those expectations up from the beginning will help to attract quality subscribers – and alleviate any potential spam issues.
Clarity is key here. Your sign up form should explain the benefits of signing up for your email list, information about the types of content you’ll be sending (newsletters, product promotions, etc.), the cadence of your emails (i.e. weekly, monthly). When you define these expectations up front, your subscribers won’t have any questions about what they signed up for.
4. Have a strong call-to-action
Your call-to-action (or CTA, for short) is where you ask your readers to take a specific action. In this instance, that action is subscribing to your list. This is your opportunity to get a little creative. A unique and creative phrase (“Sign me up!”) is far more powerful and convincing than a generic CTA (“Subscribe now”). Here’s a great example:
The reason this CTA works so well? It’s fun, fresh and makes the visitor feel good about what they’re signing up for. The reader knows exactly what they’re going to get when they subscribe.
5. Optimize the look and feel of your form
Consistency is key for creating a great experience. Your sign up form should reflect the look and feel of the rest of your website. This helps to establish brand trust, as all of the elements will feel familiar to your visitors.
Try adding brand elements to your form, using consistent colors and fonts and making sure your call-to-action button stands out.
6. Offer an incentive
Adding an incentive to your list adds another layer of value to your sign up form. People love freebies! Offering a relevant incentive (or lead magnet) is a great way to encourage the right people to sign up for your email list.
Exclusive discounts, PDF guides, ebooks, downloads and templates are all great examples of valuable incentives that can help convert passive visitors into loyal email subscribers.
Want more incentive ideas to supercharge your list building efforts? Sign up for our blog digest and get a bonus list of 25 content upgrade ideas today!
7. Promote your email list
Looking for a place to start promoting your list? Look no further than the followings you already have established! If you’re actively creating and sharing content on a platform like Facebook or Twitter, try reaching out to your audience and encouraging them to sign up to your list. After all, they’re already finding value in the content you’re sharing. Now it’s time to take your relationship to the next level.
Encouraging your social media followers to sign up for your list doesn’t have to be difficult. There are a ton of easy-to-implement ways that you can promote your list on your social platform of choice, like:
- Adding Facebook’s call-to-action button to your business page tab. By linking this button to your email list, you’re giving your social visitors a clear and easy way to stay in touch.
- Pinning your sign up form link to the top of your Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn feed to help keep it top-of-mind.
- Promoting lead generating content on your social channels with a link back to your website to capture email addresses.
Another powerful way to grow your subscribers really quickly? Host a contest or giveaway! (Just be sure to make it clear that people will be signing up for your list when they subscribe.) By offering a valuable prize and promoting it on social media, you’ll be collecting new subscribers in no time.
8. Send valuable content
One of the best – and most often overlooked – ways to get people to subscribe? Send great content. This is hands down the best way to earn your subscribers trust and get them to share your newsletter with their own networks.
Your content should always have a unique point of view and provide value to your audience that they won’t find elsewhere. You have to prove to them that they need your content.
“As email is the closest, most personal form of digital marketing it’s a matter of trust. If I can earn your trust to opt in, then I have a duty to protect that and never abuse it.” – Nick Westergaard, Brand Driven Digital
A cool way to tease your email content is to syndicate your content on a platform like Medium or LinkedIn Pulse. Or, team up with an influencer in your space to help spread the word about the awesome content you’re sending through email. The more you promote yourself to relevant communities and groups, the more likely you are to keep your email list growing and growing.
9. Add an integration to the mix
There are a number of third-party apps and tools out there that are designed to help you grow your email list. From shopping carts to landing pages, these apps make it easy for you to connect with your email service provider and start automating sign ups directly onto your list.
10. Grow your email list offline
But what if you’re not an online marketer? There are still ways to grow your email list even when you’re offline.
The customers and clients that you interact with everyday are potential email subscribers. Leverage those relationships by downloading an email sign up app to your phone or tablet and collect subscribers on the go.
More of the old school type? A pen and paper work just fine. You can manually import your subscribers into the list of your choice.
Now that you have a list of tactics to start growing your list, it’s time to take the next step. Many of these ideas take 10 minutes or less to implement! Start by creating your sign up form and adding it to your website. And remember, it takes time to nurture and grow your email list the right way.
“It isn’t a “quick fix” – relationships take time to build and email marketing is simply the medium that we use to build them – don’t rush it!” – Mark Asquith, Excellence ExpectedIt isn’t a “quick fix”. Relationships take time to build and email marketing is simply the medium. - @MrAsquith Click To Tweet
Want even more email marketing tips? Read the next post in this series, The Secret to Writing Addictive Email Content. Or get the full experience by checking out the Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing.