Owning a website means that at some point you're going to need to learn how to build email lists. An email list correctly used can be a valuable thing, and despite the rapid growth of social media, list building is still the most popular method used for getting return visits to a site, and for monetizing those visits.
Why Create An Email List?
Depending on your business, an email address can be the difference between making a sale or not. Many people will not buy something the first time they hear about it. Maybe they are just doing research, looking for information, or maybe they need more time to trust you and/or the product.
Keeping in touch via an email newsletter, follow up emails, or even a drip campaign is a great way of increasing trust between you and your site visitors, and warming them up to making a purchase, hiring your services, or whatever it is you hope that they'll do.
How To Build Email Lists
The first thing you are going to need is an email capture form on your site. There are various contact forms that will do this for you, but you are also going to need to link that capture form to an email management service. You can't just keep manuals lists and mail them out using Gmail or similar, you'll need a service like Aweber for mass email messaging.
Aweber also has some email capture forms for you to use. Copy their code into your site where you'd like the form to appear, and all email addresses left there will automatically be saved in a list in your Aweber account.
Once you've got the actual form set up and your Aweber account good to go, the next thing you need to do is get pele to sign actually sign up!
Here are some tips for encouraging sign ups:
What's in it for them? Give them value
1. Give Them A Reason.
What exactly are they subscribing to? An update on recent posts? A tip of the week? A newsletter? A short 7 day course?
I've seen many email capture forms in my time that just said “Subscribe!”. Did I ever subscribe to one? Would you?
However, if it said something like “receive a new tip on XYZ in the mail every week” or “keep up to date with XYZ” and I was truly interested in that thing, I'd be much more likely to sign up.
Always think about what are you going to do with this list, and how it benefits your visitors.
2. Give Them Incentive.
A free PDF or Ebook in exchange for signing up is a pretty common incentive. “Subscribe and receive my free thing!” actually works pretty well. People aren't going to give up their email address unless they get something out of it. You don't HAVE TO give something away, but it can work to boost subscriptions.
3. Prompts And Reminders:
If your sign up form doesn't stand out, you're not going to get many subscribers. One thing you'll find is that Internet users have a short attention span and need to be prompted to do things or they will just wander off.
Sprinkle some suggestions in your blog posts with things such as ‘if you subscribe to our weekly newsletter, you'll be familiar with my feelings on this subject” make sure to put a link in there to your subscribe page.
A call to action at the bottom of your page “Like this post? Subscribe and never miss another one” can also be a great way of getting more subs.
4. Test, Test, Test.
You'll find that different things work for different visitors and different niches. What one site does to get subscribers may not necessarily work for your site. You are going to have to try different things over time and see what gets the best results.
Another thing you can do is to understand what exactly it is that people who visit your site are looking for, and play to that. If people are looking for exercise tips, offer them a weekly exercise in their mail box.
Monetize That List!
Once you've got the list, what exactly are you going to do with it? Yes, you want to benefit your visitors, but there also needs to be something in it for you, otherwise there's little point to all this.
What's in it for you? Money hopefully.
It's difficult to find the balance between promoting and offering insight when sending out an email to your list. A lot of people end up promoting too much and damaging their reputation (as well as getting lots of unsubscribes).
I'd recommend not linking to anything promotional in your first couple of emails, until you get a feel for putting them together. You could certainly link to a relevant post or something else useful back on your site.
If it is befitting your visitors and getting returns visits to your site, that's only goings to be a good thing anyway.
When you DO decide you want to try a little promotion, here are some things you could try:
- Link directly to a product that is helpful for your subscribers.
- Link to a page on your site that has affiliate links which you can earn from.
- Put your subscribers onto a mini email course.
- Summarize a product or review, then link to the product.
Again, it really depends on what your subscribers are looking for and why they subscribed in the first place. Ultimately you may only be able to get them to keep coming back to your site, which will earn you higher search engine rankings, and higher earnings as a result of that. It's going to be up to you to figure out the best way to utilize your list.
An Email Course
This is slightly different from just generating a mailing list and sending out newsletters (or whatever). On an email course, you're going to pre-write your emails and have them sent automatically to your subscribers. This is called a drip campaign. Lets say you are offering a 7 day course teaching people how to do something.
They sign up to the course and receive a different email every day for 7 days. This lets you give them bite sized information and let's them slowly warm up to you. On the 5th, 6th, or 7th day, you might promote one or two services or products that will help them out, and they might just have enjoyed your course enough to follow up and make the purchase.
Drip campaigns are a tricky thing and I'd recommend you take some further education.
Check out my Auto Responder Madness review.
What It All Boils Down To – Value
I just want to show you a quick “Do” and “Don't” for building your list. This isn't going to deal with monetizing a list or using a list, just how to build one.
- Focus on producing excellent content on your site.
- Give sufficient incentive for them to subscribe.
- Don't appear spammy. Nobody gives their email to spammers.
- Focus on content before building a list.
- Know what the list is going to be for, before you try to build it.
- Use Aweber to build your list.
- Stick “subscribe!” signs everywhere.
- Use pop-ups or locked content to get people to subscribe
- Abuse those email addresses
- Advertise too much to your list. It will only get smaller that way.