E-mail marketing is one of the most effective and profitable marketing channels available to small businesses. It is a proven way to both nurture and convert leads and create long term relationships with existing customers.
The biggest hurdle on the path to e-mail marketing success is growing a list of engaged e-mail subscribers. With the average e-mail list degrading by over 20% per year, you need to consistently add new subscribers to you e-mail list to maintain an active and engaged following. Without an active and engaged list of e-mail subscribers, your e-mail marketing strategy will fall flat. So how do you do it?
Whether you’re just starting your e-mail marketing strategy, or your list is simply not growing as fast as you would like, here are 9 ways you can start growing your e-mail list today.
Add Opt-In Forms To Your Website
The first, and most common, way to increase your e-mail subscriptions is to add opt-in forms to your website. Opt-in forms are short contact forms where visitors can submit their name and e-mail address to “opt-in” to receive newsletters or other marketing materials.
When adding opt-in forms to your website there are two things to consider:
Placement – Pay close attention to where you place your opt-in forms. Make sure that they can be easily seen by your web visitors. While sidebars are the most common area to place opt-in forms, you should also consider adding them to your website’s:
- Main navigation bar
- About us page
- Contact page
Text – When writing the title for your opt-in form, focus on the benefits your customers will gain as a result of signing up for your newsletter. Instead of simply asking them to sign up, give them a reason to. People are much more likely to sign up for something if they have a clear idea of what is in it for them.
Example: If you run a food blog, “Sign Up For Weekly Free Recipes” is a much more compelling title for an opt-in form than simply “Sign Up For Our Newsletter”.
Don’t stop with the title though. Reinforce your message by changing the text on the “submit” button on your form as well. Taking the example from above, changing the default text from “Submit” or “Sign Up” to “Get My Free Recipes” adds much more value to potential subscribers.
Use Lead Magnets
Lead magnets are pieces of downloadable content given away in exchange for the contact information of website visitors. They are available to view only after visitors have filled out an opt-in form.
Lead magnets are a great way to grow both your e-mail newsletter list and generate leads for your business. For them to be effective though, you need to make sure that your website visitors will actually want to download them. If nobody cares, nobody will download your content and you won’t generate any new subscribers.
Once you’ve chosen a topic that your potential customers will find valuable, you then need to design and create a piece of content to give away. This content can take many forms including:
- Free Trials
Once you’ve chosen what to give away, you need to build a landing page to capture e-mail addresses. For tips on building high converting landing pages, check out our article on proper landing page design.
Although they can be some work to set up, lead magnets are one of the best ways to generate a steady stream of targeted leads and newsletter subscribers.
Leverage Your Blog
Blogging is a great way to generate targeted website traffic. If you don’t convert any of that traffic however, blogging is mostly just wasted time and effort.
Convert your blog readers into e-mail newsletter subscribers by adding opt-in forms right in the middle of your blog content. Add links to your lead magnets from relevant blog posts to increase the amount of business leads your blog generates.
Create A Newsletter Opt-In Landing Page
Still having trouble getting e-mail subscribers? Try designing a landing page specifically for your newsletter. Use this landing page to highlight the benefits your newsletter and encourage visitors to sign up with a special offer. Once finished, drive traffic to your landing page by:
- Promoting it on social media.
- Adding a link to it in your e-mail signature.
- Adding links to it in your social media profiles.
- Advertising it on social media and search engines.
Add An Opt In Tab On Facebook
Social media is a great tool to increase the brand awareness and customer loyalty of your small business. It can be challenging to convert your social media following into new business leads however.
Fortunately, some e-mail marketing tools like Mailchimp allow you to add e-mail opt-in forms directly on your Facebook Page. These forms can be fully customized and appear on your Facebook Page as a custom tab.
Run A Contest
Want to grow your e-mail list quickly? Run a contest on social media where participants enter by submitting their e-mail addresses.
While contests like these can get you a ton of e-mail addresses in a short amount of time, the e-mail addresses you get will be lower quality than those you get from lead magnets or opt-in forms. This is because many people enter contests simply for the prizes and have no intention of ever doing business with you.
The key to running a successful contest is to pick the right prize. Avoid generic prizes like gift cards or movie tickets in favour of things that only your ideal customers will be interested in. These more targeted prizes will keep most low quality leads out and help maintain the quality of your e-mail lists.
Run A Paid Advertising Campaign
If you are struggling to get traffic to your website through social media and organic search engine results, consider promoting your business to a wider audience with a paid advertising campaign.
Paid advertising can be a great way to generate website traffic, leads and e-mail newsletter subscribers. It allows you to reach consumers that you normally would not be able to reach. If you don’t know what you’re doing though, online advertising can get expensive.
To keep your costs under control make sure you only target your ads to your ideal customers and avoid sending consumers to generic pages like your home page.
Pages like your home page are usually not optimized to convert website visitors. This is fine for organic traffic but if you’re paying for people to come to your website, you want to make sure that they convert. Sending them to your lead magnets or newsletter landing page is a much more effective use of your advertising dollars.
For more information on running a successful online advertising campaign, read our Facebook advertising basics and Google Adwords basics articles, or consult a professional online advertising company.
Collect E-Mail Addresses In Store Or During Offline Events
Your e-mail newsletter opt-in efforts don’t have to be confined to the online world. Add a simple paper signup sheet by your cash register and encourage everyone who makes a purchase to sign up. You can even offer a small discount or giveaway to those that do sign up.
Your offline efforts don’t need to be confined to your retail showroom however. Bring e-mail sign up sheets to trade shows, workshops, networking events and anywhere else where you may run into potential customers.
Add A Forward To A Friend Link In Your E-Mails
One of the most effective ways to grow your e-mail marketing list is to leverage your existing e-mail subscribers. The easiest way to do this is by adding “forward to a friend” links to your e-mails.
A “Forward to a friend” link is a hyperlink that encourages your subscribers to share your e-mails with their friends and family. When clicked it will open a webpage where they can enter their friend’s e-mail address and a message. The chosen recipient will then receive an e-mail from their friend with their chosen message and a link to your e-mail.
What Not To Do
Before we finish this discussion on growing your e-mail list, I thought I’d quickly discuss one e-mail list growing technique that you shouldn’t use, buying e-mail lists.
Buying e-mail lists is a bad idea for a few reasons. First and foremost it doesn’t work. E-mail lists that are for sale are usually very poor quality, being mostly made up of people that never convert into customers. The people on that list will also likely have no idea who you are. If you were e-mailed by a company you didn’t know how likely would you be to respond?
Secondly, anti-spam laws have been put in place to stop practices like this. There are entire organizations who’s job it is to prevent spam e-mails being sent. If one of them sees that you’ve been buying e-mail addresses, your e-mail addresses will be flagged as spam. This will severely hurt the deliverability of your e-mails, sending all of them directly into the spam folders of your customers.
While it is the fastest way to grow a large e-mail list, buying e-mail lists is never a good idea.
While e-mail isn’t always the most exciting marketing channel, it consistently delivers results; producing the highest ROI of any marketing strategy.
Without a good e-mail list however, e-mail marketing simply doesn’t work. With e-mail lists degrading by over 20% every year, you need to constantly add new e-mail addresses or your list will slowly become worthless as people change e-mail addresses or opt-out of your list.
To succeed with e-mail marketing requires doing a lot of little things correctly. While any one of these techniques might not make a big difference on their own, when combined they produce real results.
So what do you think? Have you tried any of these techniques? How have you grown your e-mail lists? Let us know in the comments below.