Whether you are a small business, huge corporation, or simply a writer trying to find his or her way in this world with your one of a kind blog – building an email list is an essential part of your success, the people you reach, and the connections you make. Many of us know what it feels like to look at our current list of subscribers over and over and not know what the heck to do with them. And many of us also know what it feels like to want more subscribers and have no idea where to start.
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This is where building an email list for your business or creating an email list for your blog comes in. In this blog post, I am going to walk through the importance of an email list, how to start building one, and how to manage and maintain your list once you reach your first milestone. Let’s get right to it!
If you’ve been doing research on how to build an email list, or why an email list is important, for a while before making it to this specific blog post, you’ve probably seen a million different definitions for what an email list even is. Maybe you’ve seen it described as a simple list of people you send emails to, or a collection of contact information, or maybe even your business’s lifeline. And hey, various definitions are important to get a feel for what your email list is and means to you. But today, we’re going to walk through my philosophy, also known as: what I believe an email list is.
An email list is a relationship tool in your business; designed to help you build relationships with new leads, maintain relationships with existing clients or customers, and stay top of mind for your overall audience. This list is like a house plant. You need to water it by sending out emails, nurture it by providing information that creates leads or connections, make sure it has enough light by letting your personality shine through your content, and graduate it to a bigger pot along the way by moving and grooving with your email list as it grows.
Now, something important to keep in mind as you continue reading is that the email list you build for your blog or business will not look like anyone else’s – and it shouldn’t! You have different offers, goals and audiences than any other person or business you have or haven’t heard of. And just like you wouldn’t want to copy someone else’s designs or ideas, you wouldn’t want to copy their email list. It probably won’t work for your specific audience (or niche)! Your email list is meant to be unique to who you are and what you are offering to your audience.
You’ll hear me say this many times over the course of this post – we want to build an email list that brings in connections and leads. Keep reading to find out what that means and how to do it. Now that we’ve cleared all of this up, let’s dig into the nitty gritty of what the process of building an email list for your business or blog should look like.
First things first – if you haven’t built an email list already, this should be the first thing you prioritize in your marketing strategy before taking any further steps. In other words, listen up – this is important! Implementing an email marketing strategy is a necessary component of your business or blog. It is a foundation to achieving the goals you have set for yourself. Without something to follow along, people will not pay attention – and if you’re without people who are invested in your emails, your business’s leads will not increase. And that’s what we’re here to do, right?!
Have you ever made the mistake of signing up for an email list for an offer code or free sample only to receive what seems like a never-ending amount of emails over the days following? If this hasn’t happened to you, I applaud your self-control – those offers are just too good to pass up sometimes. And if it has happened to you, I am so sorry. This is something we are trying to avoid when building our lists. We don’t want to be too general and spammy, we want to be inspiring and personable! And building an email list full of all the right people will help you move in the right direction. I promise. Now you may be asking yourself, “where do I start?” And to you I say: “no matter where you start, there’s a right way to do it – and a wrong way.”
The wrong way consists of buying contact lists. Then importing them directly into your email marketing platform and spamming those poor inboxes. This is a big no no! For the sake of your subscribers and those inboxes, please don’t take that route. I know sometimes it is easy to believe that having thousands upon thousands of subscribers is what will help you achieve your goals. Unfortunately, this is one place where those numbers do not speak to your success! Building an email list the wrong way will leave you with low engagement, a high spam score, and low conversations. And eventually, leave you to throw your hands up in the air and declare that email marketing is dead. I’m here to help prevent any of that from happening.
The right way to build an email list is by attracting a very specific person to your email list. Side note: this means before anything else, you need to decide who your audience is and what you are providing them with. Once you start to build out emails based around those two very important components, the person you attract to your list will not only engage, but eventually convert. Connection, relationships, engagement – that is where your success will start to skyrocket. And when you build your list the right way, you will have an email list that has a purpose and is filled with your ideal (future) clients. Segmentation will become easier. Personalization will start to feel more natural, and your overall ability to develop a strategy will become a piece of cake.
The conclusion of this section is that building your list the right way will help you in the long run. Start here and trust the process. Without further ado – let’s start building that email list!
When it comes down to it, you simply need to start building your list and collect email addresses based off of the connections that you already have. In this section, we’re going to talk through how to use your current audience from other platforms and turn them into email list subscribers through a variety of email signups.
These freebies and resources might sound a bit daunting or unfamiliar, but I promise you – you’ve participated in this strategy as a consumer. Even if you didn’t know. Free resources for your list is a great way to draw in people who are looking for specific help or to solve a specific problem. These resources could be a Guide, an E-Book, a PDF one-sheeter, etc which you can place on your website, social media account, or landing page. The strategy behind these super valuable resources is to call in a very specific person – one that’s struggling with something you can help with.
You can access my 5-part Email Strategy Series and get one (or five) steps closer to a thriving email list here.
This is the most common way to build your list as a product based business. By offering an exclusive discount for anyone that joins your list not only gets these leads one step closer to purchasing, but it allows you to retarget them if they abandon the process of buying.
It honestly all starts with people that you know personally or who are already in your circle of subscribers. An easy place to start? Loyalty and referral programs. When you identify who these people are, ask them to take their commitment a step further. Join your list and eventually join a program that you put together that gives them an incentive to invite others to join in, too. A good example is: “invite 10 friends to sign up for my newsletter and receive 10% off your next service”.
If there is one thing I have learned about bringing people over from social media to my email list it is that people love exclusivity. There’s something about announcing a special offer that makes people curious. It makes them want to tag along for what you have planned. Simply make a post that you will be announcing a special “one-time offer” during your next email campaign. Watch how quickly people join your email list! All in all, they don’t want to miss out.
Do you already have traction on your website, but want to drive people towards your email list? Include embedded opt in forms on your website. These can be placed on the home page, inquiry page, about me page – practically anywhere. And the nice thing is, with many platforms you can even set it up to where when they fill out the form, the information is sent directly to your email inbox. Save their contact information and then ta-da! They are a new subscriber.
Over time you will meet new people and form new connections. If you do things right they will decide to subscribe to your email list on their own and follow along – maybe even using some of the strategies above that you put into place.
Moving on to the next, and very important, part of this whole process. This is the step where you create a email campaigns and can shout “it’s showtime” from the rooftops! At this point you have learned how to build an email list and have email subscribers for your business or blog (the right way) and you’re ready to start discovering the place you will stay for a long, long time – the management and maintenance zone.
Now, your email list should have a specific job. And when it does, you will have the ability to create a marketing plan for your email list that becomes easier and clearer each time you send out an email. Don’t just send, just to send, friend! You should be sending the right message, to the right person, at the right time. And that message should specifically be centered around your goals – every time.
We all know how hard it is to keep up with things sometimes. The honest truth is, life gets busy. But trust me when I say this – if you want the purpose behind your email list to be impactful, you must stay on track here! Successful marketing doesn’t just “happen”. You have to put in some serious effort behind what you are doing with your email list. Make sure that you are consistent. This will build confidence for you, trust for your audience, and status for your conversion rate.
In order to build trust with your list of email subscribers, you are going to need to plan how often you send out your emails, what they contain, and which segment of people you are sending them to. People will know how many emails to expect from you without feeling overwhelmed or spammed. When you specifically choose content based on groups of subscribers (or segments), people will also be able to expect to receive emails that make them feel heard, welcomed, and understood. This – this is how you maintain your ideal list of subscribers, and say goodbye to the ones who are never going to turn into leads.
What is the true secret behind managing and maintaining your email list, you ask? Stick to the basics, focus on the right audience, and always come back to your “why”. People want something to connect to after they decide to follow along. And the thing that is really going to help them stick around and eventually want to take things a step further with your business or blog is when your emails carry a specific purpose. Give them clarity, vision and touch-points (or action steps) to follow next.
There are many ways to reach an audience. But for most of us, the main two ways we place our focus on, and the ways that make the most sense for a small business or blog, are social media platforms and email marketing. There are clearly many differences between the two, but many things overlap. Therefore give you the opportunity to spend time on one overall strategy and in turn, spread content over multiple platforms.
When a business takes a social media focus with marketing, it uses platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Facebook. We can eventually get into the nitty gritty of the type of content to promote on each platform, but I will save that for another day. Social media marketing uses pictures, videos and (usually) short captions to promote a person, product or service. Now that we are in the three second attention span era, the most successful type of marketing strategy includes content that can capture an audience’s attention quickly, keep their attention with relevant information, and can propose an action step to take right then and there so they don’t forget to do it later.
Now that we’re this far into the post, we can all agree we are really here to learn about the email marketing side of things. And like I said, there are many overlaps between the two which is why we are able to take all of the things we promote on social media and repurpose them to send out to our email list and vice versa. Easy peasy! When you build an email list and keep a consistent type of audience, target audience (or subscribers), there is more room to build out your content organically. Yes, you are still going to want to create attention worthy content and use calls to action, but it will look more like a written letter than a quick five second video this time around.
Another thing to note is that audiences can be similar and overlap or may be completely different in regards to niche on different platforms. The people who love the content on your Instagram page may not be the same people who love the email content you send out each week, and that’s okay! There is a time, a place, and a platform for everything you want to achieve with your marketing strategy. But for now, let’s stick to building your email list. One step at a time.
Now that you’ve decided to move forward with building your email list and sending out emails on a regular basis. Let’s talk through how to put the right email marketing service or email platform in place. Although it may seem like there are hundreds of email marketing platforms to choose from (and truly, there are), finding the right platform for you is extremely important. To keep it simple: when you have a platform that makes your life easier, you will be more inclined to log in and use it every week, you know?
There are a few things that are pivotal when choosing the best email marketing service for you. First, take advantage of the free trial – just trust me. Even if it takes a few weeks to understand how the platform works, you will be so much happier in the long run when you’ve chosen the right platform. Second, avoid the overwhelm. As business owners, we already struggle with so many tools and expectations. So make sure to choose a platform that keeps the overwhelm and frustration at a minimum during this process. And finally, you have to know your goals. This is something you must stick to through. Every part of this process to get the support from your email list that you are dreaming of and hoping for.
Listed below are a few of my favorite professional email marketing service platforms that are business and user-friendly:
Flodesk is best for those of you who are looking for beautiful, yet simple email templates and layouts. Need a platform that amps up the visuals for your email list? Flodesk will be your go-to.
I like to think of MailChimp as the wise and trust-worthy best friend when it comes to email platforms. MailChimp has consistently stayed near the top of my list because of its consistency, reporting, and great integrations.
The platform that guides you through it all step-by-easy-step is the one and only ConvertKit. Simply put? We love her.
No matter which platform you choose, there is a basis for creativity, reliability and so much growth. Remember these three things when choosing the right platform to pair with your email list – usability, automation capabilities and reporting. And once you choose the right email marketing service, it’s time to start typing and scheduling away! ConvertKit is one of the largest email marketing services for small businesses and bloggers.
A question that I find a lot of clients asking me is: “why is an email list powerful?” The email list building, marketing strategy loving, content-creator gal in me loves to answer this question with a simple answer – you are building a community.
Yes, we could obviously get into the specifics of successful email marketing like segmentation, sales and lead generation, and monitoring customer journey. And yes, the importance of an email list does lie in the sales or bookings or connections it eventually generates after enough consistency and effort. All of those things are noteworthy, but the most important thing of all is that when you build an email list of trust-worthy subscribers, they become something like family years down the road. These powerful connections are the ones that believe that what you tell or offer them will make their lives better, and they are willing to invest in what you guide them to do next. These are the people who are willing to take a chance and allow you into a part of their journey. This is why an email list is powerful.
Are you starting to realize what is on the other side of an email list? What seems like something that just pops into your inbox actually takes a lot of planning from the business or person you are receiving the email from! And now, it’s time to take your email list by the reins and start typing out some amazing emails that people are excited to read and love.
So really, what do you get out of an email list? Is it just the people you send newsletters to, never ending call to action plug-ins, and a toggling number of subscribers? No! After you build an email list, you get the opportunity to go on a journey with your business or blog and audience. What once was word limits on captions and a blog post that you weren’t sure would ever reach the right eyes, is now unlimited space (but we tend to like to keep things on the shorter side) and opportunity to build a relationship with an audience of people who will eventually (and hopefully) turn into the leads that help you take a step further in the journey of your business. Who wouldn’t want to build an email list after hearing about this?!
After reading through this whole post, you’re probably wondering: “are email lists worth it?” And I am here to tell you – yes; email lists are absolutely worth it. If you do things the right way, you will build an email list that aligns with purpose and vision, which is the true goal here. We’ve discussed how to build your email list successfully, who to add to your email list, and why your email list is important – but now it is time for you to step into the next season (and milestone) for your business. Your email list will bring in more leads, revenue, and subscriber traction over time. You will see more engagement from your audience, and an opportunity for you to lead them to make the decision to move forward with their interest in your product or service.
Now, this is the most important question we can close out with – are you ready to start building your email list?! Let’s do this!
Want to keep the learning going? Grab my 5 Strategies for a Thriving Email List – this is a 5-part email series that shows heart-centered business owners how it’s possible to create an email list that attracts, nurtures, and converts leads time and time again.
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