Imagine this nightmare scenario: You wake up one morning two years from now ready to start your day and discover that suddenly Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have disappeared entirely from the internet.
Your followers — Gone. Years of content — Erased. Analytics — Yep, those insights are gone too.
Bet you want to scurry back under the covers and wake up from this bad dream, huh? I know I do.
Is this an unlikely scenario? Probably. But, as a marketer or small business owner, do you really have any control or knowledge over the future plans of these social media titans?
And that my friends, is why you need an email list — and why growing your list needs to be your #1 marketing priority right now.
Why you need an email list
Although it’s considered one of the oldest forms of modern digital marketing, email marketing is nowhere near dead. In fact, it’s very much alive, and is a must-have tool for your business.
Considering the above nightmare (you can exhale now!), here are some good reasons you need an email list.
- You own your email list. Unlike social media sites that could disappear at any time, your email list is yours. If all else fails like if your website crashes or you lose access to your social media accounts, you will always have those important email addresses — meaning you’ll always have a way to connect with your audience.
- Your audience is definitely checking their email. According to recent research, 89% of Americans check email at least once a day (with 20.9 percent reporting they check their inboxes more than five times a day). Consider it this way: An email address is required for almost all internet subscription services, including social media, meaning that there’s an even better chance of someone having an email address than a Facebook account.
- Email is direct and personal. Ever feel like you’re shouting into a large, empty room on social media? Email allows you to connect in a more one-on-one setting with your community. Through email marketing, you have the chance to build real trust and loyalty with your audience.
- Your email marketing can offer valuable insights. Just like Google Analytics is a fantastic tool to measure the success of your website, your email marketing provider also provides powerful analytics that can help you make valuable marketing decisions.
How to grow your email list
Okay, so now you know why it’s important to have an email list.
And while you may have the fanciest and most well-designed email in the entire world, your campaign is only as strong as your subscriber list.
Unlike many other marketing channels, if you grow your email list the right way (no buying lists here!), you’re reaching people who have already opted-in, or in other words expressed an interest in your brand.
So how do you grow your email list while still making sure you’re reaching those most likely to engage? Here are our top six strategies.
1. Develop a lead magnet
“Sign up for my e-newsletter” is not appealing. To anyone.
Consider offering something extra to subscribers. This marketing tactic has many names: You may have heard it referred to before as a lead magnet, an opt-in or a freebie.
Whatever you want to call it, if you want people to go out of their way to subscribe to your email list, you have to make it worth their while.
Whether it’s a free whitepaper, a snazzy infographic, a free webinar or a product/service discount, show your audience that they stand to gain something by signing up.
Don’t think you have anything compelling to offer? Think again. Whether your business is brand new or has been around for decades, you have something valuable to share with your community. If you need a little more inspiration, check out Lisa Butler’s 23 simple and smart opt-in ideas.
2. Make your signup on your website prominent and simple
Of course, when building your email list, you don’t want just any random person to sign up. You want that individual to be a qualified lead.
A good way to ensure this happens? Leverage the audience that is already consuming content on your website — the folks who have already “bought in” to your brand with their attention.
Making it easy for your audience to sign up for your email list is key. Don’t bury your signup form in a sidebar or the footer of your website.
Include a signup on as many pages of your website as possible (within reason) and make it extremely easy for people to fill out (no more than 3-4 form fields).
Mailchimp and other email marketing providers offer plugins and simple code snippets to embed on your website to encourage signups. It’s foolproof!
Want more help creating a phenomenal opt-in form? Check out this post from Smart Blogger.
3. Include a plug to join your email list within a blog post
Okay, so you have an individual on your website. They’re perusing your site, enjoying your content, but let’s be honest: A lot of us have simply tuned out opt-in boxes because we’ve become accustomed to seeing them in headers, footers and sidebars.
(Though, of course, we still stand by the advice in point #2!)
However, we recommend taking it a step further. Try including a plug to join your email list within a blog post. You already have a captive audience!
For example, if you’re writing a post about how to grow your email list, you could include a box in the middle of the post encouraging people to sign up for your email list for even more tips and tricks.
Oh wait…Look below. See what we did here? 😉
4. Host a contest
We’ve already covered the fact that people love incentives. But there’s something else they love even more than that…
Winning at something! So why not give them both?
Host a contest on your website or social network where people must subscribe to your list in order to enter.
The prize doesn’t have to be extravagant, but it should tie in to your brand some way.
You want to make sure the people entering your contest would actually be interested in the content you’ll be sharing with them later.
5. Cross-promote your e-newsletter on social media
Okay, here’s where we’re really going to leverage social media.
If you have some type of following on social, you’ll want to encourage those people to subscribe to your newsletter by sharing your email signup form on social media.
Of course, you can post about your email list every once in awhile, but let’s get a little more creative. Facebook and Twitter both allow for pinned posts (meaning it’s the first post a user will see upon visiting your page), so you could use a pinned post or tweet to promote joining your list, optimizing your chances someone will see it.
If you have a business account on Instagram, you can also encourage followers to swipe up in an Instagram Story to a link encouraging them to join your list there. Consider sharing tips and tricks on Instagram Stories if you’re not already to provide even more value to your community.
When sharing your email list on social media, be sure to clearly indicate the type of content subscribers can expect to receive (and perhaps consider linking to a previous edition of your newsletter).
If they love you on social, chances are they’ll love you in their inbox.
6. Create compelling content
Here’s where the hard work really begins. It isn’t enough just to get people to initially subscribe to your email list.
You need to keep them coming back by publishing great content that meets or exceeds their expectations.
If the list you’ve worked hard to earn loves your content, they’ll be more likely to share it with friends, family and coworkers, furthering your reach and continuing to grow your email list!
Curious to learn more about 2018 trends for email marketing so you can be ahead of the game? Check out this report from EmailMonday.
Email certainly isn’t going anywhere, marketers. In fact, it’s growing and changing, every day.
If growing your email marketing program isn’t one of your major goals for the year ahead, make sure to add it to your list — or risk getting left behind.
Do you have other tips and tricks for growing your email list? Let us know on Twitter.