Trying to grow your email list?
If you are here, it means that you have made the wise decision to use email as part of your marketing strategy. That’s great, but how do you start?
There is a fundamental thing that you are missing, which is an email list to send your communications to.
In this post, we provide a practical guide to help you understand how to build an email list.
Are you ready to master the art of email list building? Here we go!
What is an email list?
An email list is a list of names, details and personal information of people who have given you consent to receive updates and offers from your business via email on a regular basis.
Why building and growing your email list
When built properly, email lists contain details about people who specifically gave you permission to send them updates and promotions from your business. This, therefore, means that they will be interested in receiving regular updates from you and in what you offer. They are a highly engaged audience.
Building an email list is not an easy task. However, it is an extremely effective marketing strategy. In fact, email marketing is 40 times more effective at converting prospects into customers than social media or any other online medium. The reason why you should do it, then, is to create engaged contacts who will turn into loyal (paying) customers.
What are the advantages of having a large email list
In general, people think that the more contacts in your list, the better it is for your business, as this will mean that you have a wider target reach.
So many fall into the trap of buying or acquiring contact lists.
This is not only an easy fix that is detrimental for your business, but it is also, since May 25th, against the new European Data Protection Regulation – GDPR, for friends. By building your contact lists in this way, you risk incurring into severe financial penalties.
Instead, you need to build your contact lists using the right strategy, which is by earning rather than buying permission to get in touch with people.
Yes, okay, the money is in the email list, we all know that. But do you think it would be more valuable for you to have a list of 100,000 contacts who don’t even open your emails of one of 2,000 subscribers who actually engage with your content? You already know the answer.
Now that we’ve established that purchasing contact lists is a big no-no, we can focus on why you should put effort into building, growing and nurturing your email list.
How to build an email list effectively?
Building your email list effectively, means that you allow people to decide that they want you to be in touch with them.
Forcing them to receive your communications is not good for either of you. For them, because they never opted-in to receive your communication and they don’t want them in your inbox.
Come on, think about it, don’t you get annoyed when you find yourself flooded with emails you don’t want to receive? Well, the same goes for them – yours is just another business.
For you, this means two things: bad stats and low deliverability.
People won’t open or click your emails.
You will start getting hard bounces, and people will want to unsubscribe. You won’t allow them to unsubscribe not to lose contacts? BAD!
That’s just bad emailing practice, and again, not GDPR compliant (Fines, fines, fines, coming your way…). (Unwilling) subscribers will start reporting spam, and your deliverability and sender reputation will be impacted.
Purchasing contact lists is just a big, bad idea. But how do I do this, then – you may be wondering – if I ask my friends, relatives and other people I know for their email address, I won’t get nearly enough people to use to build a contact list.
Don’t fret, we are here to explain to you how to do this in the best possible way. And without having to ask your grandma and aunt for their email addresses.
How to grow your email list with the right strategy
The first step in building your email list properly is to create opt-in offers that people won’t think twice about. This is a critical step as not crafting the right offer means that you won’t obtain the desired outcome, and critically, it will not convert, regardless of the amount of traffic it gets.
Finding the right messaging and offer will take time and probably a few attempts. Once you find the best opt-in offers, you need to place them in front of people who could be interested in them.
Build and Grow your email list organically
Following email list building and growing best practices upholds your brand and sender reputation, ensures higher engagement and ultimately improves deliverability. To get people to sign up to your email and to give permission to be added to your contact list you can use a variety of channels.
Here are some examples for you:
- Adding widgets to your website: You can place sign-up widgets in many places on your website, like on the homepage, on blog posts, on resource pages… And you can even decide to implement a pop-up page that comes up in front of visitors. They won’t be able to ignore it. 😏
- Get social: Your business social media accounts are another great way of promoting your sign up offer. You can use CTAs on your profile page or use Ads for promotion.
- Email signature: Maybe you hadn’t thought about this one, but your email signature is a great place where you can place a newsletter opt-in or where you can promote your most recent content. People with whom you have established a personal relationship through email exchange may be more interested in hearing from you regularly.
Other places that you can get people to opt in is through live events, partnerships and guest blogging opportunities, or even through existing relationships.
How to Optimize Your Email List Building Conversion Rate
One way to organically grow and build a healthy, permission based email list is on-site retargeting. It works by monitoring the behavior of your visitors in real-time on your site. When a visitor’s behavior indicates they might be looking towards the exit, an additional message can be displayed to them – usually in a pop-up overlay.
This exit-intent technology works by monitoring the movement of the mouse. When the system detects that a visitor is about to leave your site (by the movement of their mouse towards exiting the page or clicking bookmark links) a secondary message pops up to appeal to your visitors and engage with them further. Let’s see specifically how you can use this to maximise the number of visitors signing up for your newsletter.
- Create an email list: Include a sign up offer in an exit-intent pop-up
There are several types of pop-ups that can be used to keep otherwise departing visitors engaged. But when it comes to list building, the most effective ones collect contact details. A well-timed and controlled sign up pop-up is a strong way to keep your prospects engaged at the right time and get them to opt-in to your email list.
- Build your email list: Use YES-NO pop-ups in multi-page campaigns
The average website visitor prefers to click first and then fill in a form. You can take advantage of this and create multi-step on-site retargeting campaigns to increase your subscriptions. One approach is a simple YES-NO pop-up which appears before the subscription form.
- How to build an email list: Personalize your message
Visitors are more likely to stay engaged with your business if the pop-up is relevant to their specific needs and interests. This means you’ll be able to organically increase your subscription rate by communicating the right message at the right time to each segment of your audience. For example, if a visitor shows a specific interest, the most relevant pop-up will appear.
For more advanced personalization, use Dynamic Text Replacement in your pop-ups to alter the text based on any variable you wish. This way, you can display highly targeted messages to individual visitors using only one pop-up.
- Use nanobars to grow your email listJust like a less flashy on-site retargeting pop-up that appears on exit intent, a nanobar or notification bar, can be used to gather subscribers. Nanobars are also called “sticky bars” because they “stick” to the top or bottom of a website.
Nanobars are typically triggered based on engagement. If you feel your visitors find exit-intent pop-ups too intrusive, nanobars are a great alternative that can be adapted to fit your site’s user experience.
- A/B test your messages to optimize your list building
A/B testing gives you the power to test which on-site retargeting campaign generates more subscribers. You can learn what design and content elements should be changed, what should be removed and what should stay.
You can improve your subscription rate by eliminating your under performing pop-ups. This can boost your opt-in subscriptions by as much as 40%.
- Create an email list: Include a sign up offer in an exit-intent pop-up
- Build an email list: Promote a free giveaway
Your visitors are more likely to provide their email address if they receive something useful in return.
Your giveaway should be easily consumable content and helpful for your prospects. We’ve found the following giveaways usually work well: e-books, cheat sheets, checklists, case studies, webinars or video series.
As you can see, there are a variety of great on-site retargeting methods and tools available to engage your visitors and get them excited to opt in to your emailing list.
That being said, make sure to only email consumers about the information they signed up to receive. For example, if they sign-up to receive a freebie, it’s not cool to automatically add them to your newsletter list without asking them first.
A suggestion? Include a newsletter opt-in check box directly on your retargeting message or if you are capturing sales leads, be sure to remind your sales team to ask the prospect if they wish to sign up to the company newsletter before adding them to your organisation’s marketing list. Last but not least, always remember to have your data privacy link readily available on your main website.
How to Build an Email List from Scratch Fast
An email contact list is a huge asset for Marketers in terms of lead generation and customer retention. It is especially useful in gaining insight into how a customer base consumes and reacts to your brand over time.
However, despite its many benefits, list growth often gets a bad rap. Not only does it takes time to organically acquire new contacts, customers are opting out on a daily or weekly basis.
First of all, to build an engaged and profitable contact list, here are three rules of permission you should never forget:
Permission is earned, not bought
Promises are the currency of permission. You’ll only get people onto your email list by making a promise. And they’ll only stick around if you fulfill that promise. Here’s what does work:
- Acquire contacts organically. Commit to never buying a list or tricking people into getting on your list. When contacts engage with you on their own terms, they’re far more likely to stay engaged and become customers.
- Make a compelling promise. A great promise is what will get people on your list and position your new relationship with them. The more relevant and personal the promise is to your prospect’s life, the stronger the relationship and the better your chances of converting them into customers.
- Put your promise in the right place. Go where your prospects are. If you have an active blog, place opt-in offers there. If there are popular websites in your niche, guest blog on those sites and point readers back to an opt-in offer. Advertising on social media is another excellent way to get your offers in front of people.
Permission is a journey, not an event
When a contact opts in, you’ve earned the lowest level of permission. The goal is to continue escalating the relationship to higher and higher levels of permission until, eventually, customers decide to buy whatever you want them to buy. Here’s are a few tips to help get started:
- Build your permission ladder. What are the levels of permission on your list? How can you escalate relationships from opt-in to sale? Most email marketers haven’t clearly defined the steps they want subscribers to take between opt-in and conversion. This is an important place to start.
- Segment your list by journey. Your subscribers are not all identical. Different customers are on different journeys and their motivations for engagement will vary. Define the different pathways to becoming a customer and segment your list accordingly to make sure your content is always anticipated, personal, and relevant.
- Automate permission-building. The real power of email marketing lies in automation. Once you’ve built your permission ladder and segmented your list, make good use of autoresponders and other automation tools to put the process of escalating permission on auto pilot.
Permission is temporary, not permanent
The idea of losing permission is a scary thought. It’s the marketing equivalent of a breakup.
But the great thing about email marketing, as opposed to relationships, is that you’re able to see the warning signs long before you lose permission for good. To do this, you must pay attention to these three numbers:
- Open rates measure how much subscribers anticipate receiving your emails. If your open rates start to drop, it’s a good sign that you’re not consistently delivering on your promise or the topic itself isn’t as interesting to your subscriber as it used to be.
- Click rates measure how effective your content is at inspiring action. It’s nice when people read your email, but if they’re not taking the intended action, that’s a sign that you’re losing permission.
- Unsubscribe rates track when you’ve finally lost permission for good. When someone unsubscribes from your list, it means they’ve gotten to the point where they’d like to formally revoke permission and never hear from you again. Marketers tend to focus on unsubscribe rates as the ultimate measure of when permission is lost. But the truth is, you probably lost permission far before your subscriber reached for that unsubscribe button.
Always ask customers to opt-in. Double opt-in, if possible
The purpose of asking customers to opt-in to your email marketing is two-fold; to protect your sender reputation and to ensure customers are engaged and receptive to your brand and content.
Some may argue that asking for opt-in results in a smaller contact list since customers have to perform this extra step. However, not asking for permission before sending puts you at risk of being marked as spam or worse, being blacklisted by an ISP – and obviously at risk of fines, since May 25th. Just one abuse complaint can lead to having both your Domain name and IP addresses blacklisted.
We, at Mailjet recommend using a double-opt in process. As an added layer to the standard opt-in, customers receive a triggered confirmation email that they have to click on to reconfirm their email address and subscription preference.
First you sign up
This ensures that the customer provides an active, accurate email address which helps avoiding spam traps and bounces – both of which ISPs look at very closely to judge the quality of your emails and decide whether or not you are allowed to enter through their pearly inbox gates.
Never buy email lists, no matter how tempting it may be
Yeah, we’ve said this already more than once, but… It may seem like a quick and easy way to a high ROI, but buying email lists is forbidden by ISPs.
Not only is there is no way for you to determine the quality of the customers on your purchased or rented list but, more importantly, these customers are unfamiliar with your brand and will be quick to penalize you for sending them an unsolicited message. You run the big risk of being blacklisted and/or marked as spam in a matter of seconds.
Start with good content
Engage customers by first presenting them with rich, relevant content through your blog, ebook or white papers. Provide these users with an option to subscribe to this content via email.
This indirect approach will ensure a higher list quality and sender reputation because customers who opt-in to receive your messages are already familiar with your brand and will be receptive to your contact and stay engaged.
Leverage other social channels to grow your list
Beyond awesome brand recognition and content, online sweepstakes may be an additional way to to grow your brand recognition and contact list but be careful, it has to be done correctly.
They need to absolutely know that the counterpart of submitting their email address for a prize or giveaway is that you are also asking them for their permission to add their email address to your contact list. This needs to be done with full transparency and an opt-in mechanism.
Create a landing page that highlight benefits of joining your contact list
It may seem a bit repetitive to you, but including a dedicated landing page on your website for those who subscribe to your emails can be beneficial.
This is because subscribers may want to learn more about how frequently they can expect to receive communications from you and what sort of content you will be sending out.
Email List best Practice #9 Use creative CTAs that draw attention to your gated content
Using creative CTAs is a great way to direct people (AKA possible leads) towards your gated content, and obtain their email address.
Asking people only for an email address does not qualify them as good leads, but if your goal is to build a contact list, this is the simplest possible way to slowly introduce people to your brand. You can then later on accumulate more information about the subscriber, as more interest is manifested on their side.
Just bear in mind, that you state clearly that by giving out their email address to receive that piece of content, subjects are also giving consent for you to send out to them your email marketing communications.
Extra Tip: Use Side Project Marketing To Your Advantage
According to Brian Clark, the golden rule of online marketing is this:“Give something valuable away in order to sell something related.”
If you feel like your content production, advertising and other practices are not really working enough to get you where you want to be, a side project may be the answer. It is a great way not only to grow your email subscriber base but also to grow brand awareness.
No, don’t worry, we haven’t gone completely nuts. Side projects are a product or service that is clearly not your business’ main offering, but is a related and free offer provided to your audience in exchange of their email address.
Still sounds scary to you, right? It may seem like a lot of work at first, but the reality is that it doesn’t have to be. It could be just a free version or free trial of your product. Or it could be something completely different.
For example, Crew, a company who matches companies with hand-picked freelancers, offers a number of different side projects to their customers, including things like a calculator to help people figure out the cost of an app they want develop, a collection of free stock photos, and a list of what they call ‘unicorn’ coffee shops to work from that have the ultimate combination of working perfection: good coffee, good wifi, and plenty of outlet plugs.
Yeah okay, now you’re panicking cause you don’t have the money, nor the time, nor the resources to do this. But bear in mind: your side marketing project doesn’t have to be something huge and great, it can be something easy and simple that people can benefit from, like a simple spreadsheet.
Build your email list with the right tool
Several things have to fall in line before a consumer is willing to share their email address. There has to be trust, a good incentive and it has to be easy to opt-in – each additional click means a drop off in sign ups.
As far as trust and good incentives go, consumers are looking for content that is specifically valuable and relevant to them. Personalized content drives a 20% increase in sales. You therefore need to pick the right email partner, which will allow you to create and customize subscription widgets according to your (and your audience’s) needs.
The subscription widget is a no-brainer when it comes to maximizing your website for lead generation. Visitors are already interested or engaging with your brand, and email is a great next touchpoint for sharing non-promotional, value-adding content. It’s a free resource and a low commitment way for your prospective clients to get to know your brand.
Mailjet’s subscription widget allows you to easily create opt-in forms, integrate them into your site(s) and automatically see your opt-ins added to your contact lists within your Mailjet account. All with little or no design and coding experience.
As consumers tend to prefer a personalised experience, the subscription widget also allow you to collect a variety of customer information up front (first name, last name, birthday, mailing address etc.). Fields can be marked as mandatory – to strike the right balance between requesting information and making it easy for your users to sign up.
All of the data is then automatically sorted and synced with your Mailjet contact list. Collecting this data at the beginning of your touch point with customers allows you to build deeper demographic testing over time.
Create as many subscription widgets as needed and test their performance across your sites. The subscription widget’s intuitive drag-and-drop editor allows customize your forms with a few clicks of the mouse. Edit the layout, text, image, and color scheme order to fit your brand’s visual aesthetic. When you’ve landed on a design you’d like to use, the tool will generate an HTML code to be copy and pasted into your website’s source code.
At Mailjet, we know how much hard work it takes to build, grow and nurture your contact list. And that’s why, we try to make your life easier by providing you with the most intuitive and handy tools to help you at every stage of your email marketing strategy, as well as with guidance on the best practice when it comes to emailing.
And now go, make us proud, and build contact lists that will last you a lifetime!