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From the minute I mentioned to people that I was writing an article on building your email lists, the interest has been huge.   I asked four experts to share their top tips with you.

I chatted first to Ashlee Bloom of Raffingers, who is shortly opening a marketing division.  She told me that for all of us, marketers, business owners, and consumers alike, the world of email marketing can be overwhelming.  In the physical and digital world, we are all bombarded with messages that it is difficult to form strong connections through all the noise.  Email marketing, when it is poorly done, Ashlee warns, can hinder, instead of connecting you to customers.

Your audience

Ashlee’s first tip to build your email list is to understand what content your audience engages with and show them the value of what you provide.  To do this, offer items or services free in return for their details.  Examples are whitepapers, free consultations, discounts, competitions, and more.  Each audience responds to different lead magnets.  You need to find which ones your audience will go through the hassle of giving you their details to get.

Estelle Keeber is a serial entrepreneur and best-selling author, currently the founder of the wonderfully named, The Immortal Monkey.  Her company helps people find success online.

Estelle agrees that it is vital to know your audience if you are going to successfully build an email list and expands that.  We have all heard that phrase, but Estelle has a more exact instruction:  know their pain points.  By connecting and offering help or solutions to those, you are providing value they especially need.  Once you know their pain points, you can figure out what to provide to get their emails and ensure it is valuable and relevant.  The picture becomes more apparent over time through tracking and watching what does and doesn’t work.  “Ask your audience what they would like from you,” advises Estelle.

Lead Magnets

Ashlee says that she often sees businesses make the error of simply sharing blog content to their email list on marketing communications. While it’s absolutely acceptable to repurpose your content for different channels, you need to remember that if they have signed up for your newsletter, they are looking for something exclusive that they couldn’t have had otherwise.

For example, if you sell a product, then competitions, pre-orders, limited editions, and discounts are great ways to provide value to your subscribers. Consider exclusive white papers, subscriber-only events and webinars, and free consultations if you provide a service.

Matthew Hughes’s company is King of Video, so he is all about clarity of content and engaging an audience.  He also emphasized the importance of lead magnets and offered some different thoughts on building an email list.   Use different subscriber levels, including a free tier, where they still have to sign up for content in the “club.”  He is a big fan of 5-day challenges to engage people, be it on YouTube or Facebook.  They take a relatively small amount of time to organize, but people still have to sign up to be involved.

Matthew also includes calls to action within video and YouTube which he says people often forget.  Use Linktree, he advises, and you can put offers in there to encourage people.  Matthew also mentions online events.  Consider holding a virtual summit, he says.

Content and Layout

email marketing building
Puzzling over how to build your email list?

Rachael Dines is the founder of Shake it up Creative, a creative marketing agency based in West Sussex.   Her very first tip for building an email list is to “Invest in content; strong, captivating, regular content that readers want more of.”  Rachael says that when they want more, it is the moment to ask them to sign up for extra or first-look educational content and then make sure you deliver.

How you are asking them to sign up to your email list is crucial too.  Rachael says to keep the sign-up simple and only gather essential data.  She suggests thinking about both entry and exit signposts.  Ensure that website visitors can subscribe from your homepage, but also use an app or plugin to ask them to opt-in just before they leave your site too.

Ashlee advises you need to think about where a sign-up form is located.  Naturally, businesses include their sign-up form on their website, but should it be on your blog after each article or in your email signature?  Think about where you can position it in your marketing communications to generate interest in your audience.

In addition, Ashlee says to consider the copy you use for your form. Is it simply titled ‘Newsletter’ with the relevant data boxes and a ‘subscribe button, or does it mention the value they get from signing up and have an engaging call to action?   That is not going to inspire people that much.

Another great piece of advice from Ashlee is to remember hyperlinks throughout the email you send out. Your logo, images, text, CTA buttons, and more should all be linking to relevant places. While you can see how people engage with your email, you don’t know how everyone’s brains work; therefore, if you miss the opportunity to link an image, and that is where your ideal customer clicks, you are missing an opportunity.

She also reminded me how important it is for the emails that go out to your email list reflects your brand and make sure it stands out in that inbox of spam that everyone suffers from.  She suggests:

  • Ensuring it sits in line with your brand identity (logo/colors/ fonts/ tone of voice)
  • Making sure you personalize the text. This is possibly one of the most crucial steps to take when creating an email.  You need to ensure your data is clean so that you can pull in the relevant personalization tokens to make sure your email looks like it was created specifically for your customer. Something as simple as addressing it to their first name and having their company name in the copy has a big impact.

So how do you promote to get people there?   Estelle advises using all social media to cross-promote, regardless of you being in the process of creating an email list.  Both Estelle and Rachael included collaboration in their top tips.  Estelle says that collaboration is vital, be it through podcasts, interviews, or guest blogs.  There are so many ways to open up new audiences.

Collaboration for building an email list

Rachael suggests taking collaboration a step forward and working with a collaborative brand to get on their newsletter, and you can reciprocate too, sending them out to your email list.  Affiliate marketing and variations of the same have always worked well.  Rachael also suggests trying a viral promotion.  A big-ticket competition that not only encourages social media sharing but rewards entrants with extra entries for sharing directly with friends is ideal.  However, Rachael warns that a nurture email campaign has to be followed up to convert entrants into customers later.

A great point to end on is Estelle’s advice of “Don’t just post and run!  If people have signed up for your offer, they are interested, build on this, keep offering value until they are at a point of trusting you and buying into your product or service.”

The experts have as always been hugely generous with this.  Please don’t hesitate to contact them if you would like to talk to them further.  Meanwhile, I am sure, like me, you will be expanding your to-do list with all these very actionable pieces of advice to vastly improve and expand your email list..

If you want to read all our series on digital marketing, this is the first one here on how to achieve it on a budget.