If you’re new to email marketing and you’ve just started growing your first-ever subscriber list, the process may seem slow and grueling. Most first-time marketers don’t really understand how to grow their email list and may be tempted to buy one (don’t – first, it doesn’t work, and second – it can backfire quite badly – resulting in email vendor blacklisting and permanently harming your IP reputation) or harvest emails online (don’t do that either – for the same reason).
The good news is, with a good strategy, collecting subscribers is much easier than you think!
I am going to walk you through the process in 5 simple steps.
1. Always start with a why
Not your why. You probably know why you want people to read your newsletters – maybe because it can boost sales by 21 % or make people spend 138% more than they would otherwise if they didn’t get your offer by email.
But in order to get people to want to get your newsletters, you need to focus on their why.
People have to have a very good reason why to subscribe to your newsletter.
Melyssa Griffin is making it very clear *why* I should get her Blog Business Plan – she will help me meet a very specific need I have (more traffic / more sales / developing more products) = to solve my *very important* problem. Also, she’s covered my whole screen with her sign-up form in bright yellow so I will-nilly *need* to read it before I scroll down to the blog post I visited her website for in the first place.
If you have designed a good email marketing strategy, you have probably already thought through what your existing and potential customers want to read about and why they would open your newsletters:
- To learn something interesting (ranging from lifestyle tips that are related to your product or service, a method of solving a particular problem in your industry, to a piece of news or trivia)
- To get updates about your new products, features, or special offers.
- To sign up for events, webinars, meetups, etc.
- To get their problems solved.
Use this ‘why’ to create irresistible content promoting your newsletter both online and offline:
2. Market the content of your newsletter through a blog, on social media (Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn), guest posts, free ebooks, reports, or white papers
Now that you know why people would like to read your newsletters, you need to package a small *teaser* of the newsletter content and leave it in an easy-to-find place:
- Write a *really* valuable blog post that solves a major problem of your target customers and includes a big CALL-TO-ACTION button ‘subscribe to our newsletter to get more tips like this
- Create an infographic that presents the content of your newsletter in an attractive way, add appropriate hashtags that will attract the audience you are looking for, and post it on social media with a link to a subscription landing page in the photo description.
- Create a useful report/ short ebook/ webinar (preferably with a guest who already has a lot more subscribers than you and can invite them to the event) and promote it through sponsored / guest posts on social media – with a CTA requiring people to leave their email address in order to get the useful content.
3. Invite them to online and offline events
Regardless of whether you have an Indian restaurant or an online SaaS business, you can organize events that would require participants to sign-up using their email addresses:
- If you have a traditional brick-and-mortar business with physical premises, you can organize a special theme night to celebrate a particular occasion: Halloween party; St Patrick’s Night Dinner; Christmas Shopping Discount Night; you can find inspiration for more quirky occasions here (happy chocolate mousse day, btw.)
- Organize networking events for professionals – reach out to local organizations and offer them to host their events for free – you can find a list of events happening in your local area on meetup.com, eventbrite.com, or internations.org.
- Collaborate! Invite a local up-and-coming star (or two) to entertain your guests. They will be more than happy to share your event all over their social media to promote their personal brand as well.
- For knowledge-based businesses, B2Bs, or SaaS tools: you can share your inside knowledge about how to solve your customer’s problem by creating an online webinar using e.g. gotomeeting.com you can also record it and recycle it on youtube later; invite a few experts (micro-influencers, bloggers, etc. writing about the topic) to share their knowledge as well; again, they will help you promote your event on their social media to get more credibility.
- Promote your events on Facebook, and all your other social media (ask your guests to share the event as well to get a special discount!) plus on dedicated event-sharing platforms (meetup.com, Eventbrite, international, etc.)
4. Bribe them.
If you already have some customers, you can ‘bribe’ them with a discount they will get only if they subscribe to your mailing list.
- Add a discount button next to your checkout with a CTA ‘leave your email address to get 10% off your purchase now’.
- Do you have a traditional business? Print out leaflets with a discount offer and a QR code/ short URL taking people to your email subscription landing page. If your customers want the discount, they will need to subscribe to your mailing list here and now.
5. Make it easy to subscribe and use every opportunity to collect emails
Add sign-up forms to your blog posts and make them so prominent that they are impossible to miss whether the reader reaches the end of the post or not: e.g. cover the top of the page with them or include them in the side-bar of your website:
Add pop-up windows and sign-up forms to your popular pages:
Add links to your subscription landing pages to your social media posts. Add CTA buttons to all your social media profiles…
The list goes on and you can be as creative as you like with where to include your sign-up link: HubSpot even recommends adding it to the email signature of all your employees…
What you need to always remember though, is that no matter where you put your links and pop-ups, people will not sign-up if they don’t see clear benefits of receiving your newsletters – so, as always – the key is producing valuable content (and reminding people what problem it solves).