How to Build an Email List for Email Marketing Success

Building your list is the first step to reaching your audience in email marketing, and it should be repeated often.

After all, if no one receives your emails, the content is irrelevant, and engagement is zero, so your conversion is also zero.

Email marketing is all about relationships. And a strong email list grows organically (never purchased).

A bought email list rarely works. Remember, you want a willing audience. However, if your recipients haven’t opted in and stated that they want to subscribe, you’ll have deliverability issues and those that do get through will likely not convert in any meaningful way. Warning: many purchased email lists contain spam traps — i.e., bad email addresses that can cause your IP to be blacklisted. Making this one shortcut won’t help your long-term email marketing campaigns.

So how do you create a list that grows organically as you feed it? Our best advice!

1. Make it easy to subscribe

Website opt-in forms are a great way to get email subscribers. They’re both manual and automated, so once set up, they’re completely hands-off.

Website forms include pop-up and embedded. A pop-up is a small window that appears on the screen when a user visits a certain page. However, an embedded form is a static invitation to sign up for email communications or provide user information in exchange for resources.

Most businesses use a pop-up on their homepage or other high-traffic pages, and an embedded form in the header or footer of certain landing pages (more on that in a minute).

The more ways to opt-in, the better, but there are a few tactics that can help. You may offer a discount for signing up if you run an eCommerce site. Providing a lead magnet like a downloadable resource or access to a webinar may be appropriate for a service business.

2. Know Your Crowd

While gathering contact information, research your target demographic. See how customers interact with your content — what do they linger over or return to frequently?

Examine your buyer personas. What will most likely appeal to your CRM segments? Changing interests based on location, gender, or other demographics? Consider what these personas have in common and tailor your early messages accordingly.

Knowing your audience and what content they want will help you create an email campaign that meets their needs.

3. Develop Useful Content

Make sure your content is useful to your readers. People are impatient with emails that offer nothing. Find or create resources for your industry and share them with your audience.

Creating great content extends beyond your emails. Ideally, you should be blogging regularly, sharing videos, and offering gated educational resources like webinars and white papers. All of this content marketing will increase brand awareness and position you as a thought leader.

As a bonus, happy customers and subscribers are more likely to share your content with their networks, resulting in more signups!

4. Build Landing Pages

Let’s return to one of those methods for getting people to subscribe: forms. These forms are found on landing pages and allow access to valuable content like ebooks, how-to guides, case studies, whitepapers, and reports. Use Google Ads or LinkedIn in-content marketing to promote the content, then direct those who click to a landing page where they can provide their name and address in exchange for the asset.

This form can be used in two ways. You can include a checkbox for people to sign up for your email list, or a line that says they agree to sign up for your email list by filling out the form. In either case, make it clear that they can opt-out at any time, and make the text on the form easy to read so they don’t feel duped.

Remember GDPR compliance with forms. The GDPR is a set of rules designed to protect EU citizens’ data and privacy. Even if your company is based outside the EU, you must comply with GDPR because you never know who among your subscribers may be an EU citizen. To comply with GDPR, you must obtain consent for any data processing measure, including email marketing. A disclaimer or checkbox before adding an email address to your list and an easy way to opt-out of your marketing if desired.

5. Links to Your Site

Creating valuable content also allows you to use your emails to drive traffic back to your site. Sending a fun craft how-to infographic with a product or category link or a ‘Read more’ CTA after an intriguing teaser of your latest blog post is a great way to get subscribers back to your home base.

This way, your emails and website (along with social media and other outreach) feed each other, encouraging your audience to engage with your brand in multiple ways. They’ll do it gladly if you keep adding value.

6. Webinars

Webinars are a great way to build your email list by showcasing your thought leadership skills and attracting new subscribers. This is doubly true if you co-host it. Choose a brand with a similar audience to yours, and both of you will benefit.

To turn your webinar into a list-building event, attendees must register by providing their name and contact information. After the webinar, send additional resources and add registrants to your email list. As with other gated content, make it clear that providing contact information constitutes consent to receive emails, and that opt-outs are available at any time.

Hold a giveaway for registrants to increase conversion rates from visitor to subscriber.

Email marketing is only one component of your overall sales funnel, but it is vital to its success. These suggestions will help you build an organic list that is compliant and increases conversion.

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