Your business interacts with many people regularly- visitors, current users, clients, prospects, and leads. The best way to nurture these connections is via emails. Emails are by far the most effective way to communicate.
Emails are crucial for any business because they are immune to social media bans, and algorithm changes and are 40 times more effective than social media.
This creates the need to build an email list that converts and generates sales. An email list is a database with the email addresses of people interested in your business.
An email list helps you:
- Strengthen the connection by providing a personalized subscriber experience.
- Multiply the business ROI
- Ease at performance tracking
Emails have limited and easy-to-track performance metrics with a lot of automation opportunities.
So, here is your guide on building an email list that converts visitors into loyal users. It might take a few weeks or a few months to build a legitimate email list. But it gives tremendous ROI for a long period of time. After all, every $1 spent on email marketing brings in a return of $42 for the business.
How to Build an Email List? (Step by Step Guide)
Now, before you hop on to looking for strategies to grow that database, let us understand where it all starts. A simple pop-up on your website would not help in email list building. You need to create a system and an offer to capture people’s email addresses.
When you go to a restaurant, they generally ask for your number. Now, you could get away with that because you know you will get a lot of promotional messages. Something similar happens when you ask for emails as a business. People avoid it as no one wants to join the list of spammy promotional message receivers.
So, you need to provide some value in exchange for their emails. It could be a freebie, some coupon, or any other item with perceived value.
Step 1: Create Lead Magnet
To begin with, create a clear offering that adds or serves value for your audience. Start by creating a persona of your target audience to pick a lead magnet. It could be a free guide, a video course, a free sample/ product, or anything that they find worthy.
Now, a major thing to prioritize is the target audience’s needs and motivation points. You can’t offer a YouTube guide to people interested in startups. Understand what excites your target audience and align your offering accordingly.
For instance, you provide SEO services to B2B companies. You could offer:
- Site audit
- A pdf-format SEO guide for B2B companies,
- SEO course, etc.
The most common lead magnet is a content upgrade (ebook, guides, pdfs, etc.) and freebie. Nonetheless, there are many other options discussed further.
Step 2: Pick Distribution Channel
Now that you have decided on a lead magnet, pick a distribution channel to promote your offer. It could be a website, social media, YouTube channel, or any other platform where your audience is active.
Again, relevance is crucial while choosing a distribution channel and promoting your offer.
Suppose, you go to an electronics store and get a free health check-up. Not a bad deal, but surely not relevant. Now, imagine getting the same check-up during a visit to the hospital.
So, if you choose to promote men’s t-shirts for your eCommerce store, you would show the offer to people browsing in the men’s clothing section. Or if you choose an email marketing guide as a lead magnet, you would flash the deal on blogs, and pages related to email marketing.
Acing the relevance and cracking the intention of users is crucial when selecting a distribution channel.
Step 3: Design a Landing Page
You got the lead magnet ready and got in front of the people interested in it. Now? How will you collect email addresses?
You need a landing page to collect the emails. This landing page needs to clearly communicate:
- The value proposition of the lead magnet
- What people can expect in the future
- How it will benefit them
Now, you can create a landing page using website builders like WordPress, Wix, or dedicated landing page builders like Unbounce, GetResponse, Kajabi, InstaPage, etc. Compare these options and pick the convenient one.
Alternatively, a pop-up or squeeze page on website pages could help you collect the emails as well. Also, Twitter and LinkedIn provide dedicated newsletter tools that you could add to your social media.
Step 4: Pick an Email Marketing Software
Finally, pick an email marketing software to organize and send emails. Now, the main function might be to deliver emails, but you need a tool that allows segmenting and tagging. Why? Segmenting your audience based on their journey and tagging them appropriately helps you personalize the emails.
In fact, SuperOffice conducted an email marketing campaign and experienced a 94% open rate for a segmented email campaign as compared to a 42% open rate for the unsegmented one.
Tagging emails means adding more information and categorizing emails based on some information. For instance, you own a content marketing agency. You have an email list with people interested in YouTube, social media, blogs, podcasts, etc. Now, you would want to send an email related to YouTube marketing specifically to the person interested in YouTube only.
Relevance is key in emails and finding the right email marketing tool is crucial to ease the process. Some of the tools are MailChimp, ConvertKit, Kajabi, Drip, Aweber, GetResponse, Active Campaign, Clickfunnels, etc.
Step 5: Bringing it All Together
Now, it is time to put all the elements into action. After deciding on the lead magnet, distribution channel, and email marketing channel, you need to merge these all to capture emails. It will take you about a day to bring it all together.
Once you complete this, you need to focus on distributing your lead magnet and nurturing your email list. Nurturing an email list doesn’t mean increasing the number of subscribers solely. You need to ensure that there are active subscribers, no bots, and people engage with your emails. Hence, it is advisable to:
- Send at least one email per week.
- Refine your list every month (removing inactive subscribers).
- Trying to sell once a month (cause after all the main goal is revenue generation).
Is It Worth Buying an Email List?
Many businesses end up buying an email list to get started. But is it the right approach?
Buying an email list will not only hamper the quality of your email list but can create technical issues.
Firstly, buying an email list invites a lot of dead or bot emails that do not serve any purpose. Also, since you bought these, people have not willingly signed up for them. This might affect your business reputation negatively and increase the unsubscribe rate.
Secondly, it increases the chances of landing your email in spam. Also, buying a list might be legal, but sending promotional marketing emails without prior permission is illegal in many places (as per local laws).
You don’t want inactive and unqualified subscribers on your email list. Hence, you should refrain from buying an email list no matter how attractive it might seem.
Strategies to Grow an Email List
We discussed the 5-step basic email listing building method. Now, let us look into strategies that will help you build an email list effectively. These would ensure that you get a qualified audience that serves value for your business and converts.
Content upgrades are long-form PDFs or ebooks that provide specific information in addition to existing blogs or any other content piece. It could be a 5000-word guide that contains exclusive strategies or case studies.
Content upgrades work well since they offer relevant information to the prospects. If promoted well, it could drive a lot of traffic and build your email list quickly. Providing free content doesn't cost a lot and offers a great ROI.
Recently, Bill Gates offered a free copy of his book in the same manner for exchanging email addresses.
Additionally, you could opt-in for gated content. Gated content means a part of the content on your website which is locked or hidden that a visitor can access only in exchange for email and other information.
Pop-ups are promotional messages that come on top of your website content. They generally contain information and blank spaces to enter email addresses. There are four types of pop-ups:
Welcome pop up- They generally appear as soon as you open the website to greet or offer a welcome discount or deals. They require a strong CTA to ensure conversion since they can be intrusive.
Exit intent pop up- They show up when a user is about to leave the website. The aim is to reduce bounce rates and grab visitors' attention by presenting them with a relevant offer. You need to ensure that the copy of the exit-intent popup is enticing to increase efficiency. A tactfully made exit-intent popup can save 10 to 15% of users leaving the site.
Promotional pop up- As the name suggests, promotional pop-ups include promotional messages that include exclusive discounts/ deals. Relevancy is a crucial factor for promotional popups which requires an understanding of the buyer's journey.
Timed pop up- Timed popups are the promotional messages that show up on your website after a certain amount of time spent by the visitor. Look into Google Analytics and you could get insight into the customer journey. For instance, a visitor stays on your website for 25 seconds on average. You could opt-in for a timed pop-up at 15 seconds to offer a discount or any other lead magnet.
Pop-ups are a great way to increase your conversion if deployed correctly. You could use them on the home page, product page, check-out page, or in the cart as well. However, don't use more than three pop-ups on a single page. Also, consider Google interstitial ad guidelines, in absence of which you might end up getting a penalty.
Squeeze pages are like landing pages to capture email addresses only. They again offer some lead magnets in exchange. The only aim is to either get the email or the visitor will leave the website. It has bare minimum content and hence requires an effective offer to attract users. You could offer email courses, templates, ebooks, white papers, etc.
They generally have a high exit rate but a high conversion rate. If you do not have a high conversion rate, it is advisable to add home or product page links as well to the page.
Loyalty and Referral Program
Loyalty and referral programs are great for existing and new users. There is a great way to incentivize users by providing them exclusive discounts, early access to sales, and other perks.
They not only build your email list but help you increase repeat purchases. Many brands opt for loyalty and referral programs to nurture relationships with the users. You could build your email list by providing special benefits.
Discount and Deals
Discounts and deals are a great way to capture emails or any other personal information of your users. You could provide special discount codes/ coupons in exchange for emails. You could also offer welcome discounts, and festive discounts and use this evergreen method to keep growing your email list.
You can offer exclusive notifications to your subscribers. This could be regarding early access to sales, a new collection, or inventory stock up.
Often people place orders on your E-commerce website but there is an availability of products. In situations like these, you could ask for their email and notify them in case of restocking. It doesn't seem promotional and offers value to the user.
You could add interactive games and elements to your website to boost engagement on the website and provide a lead magnet. It could be something simple as spinning the wheel, scratch cards, tests, surveys, etc.
The user could claim the bonus by providing their email address. This is fairly popular and brands over free products or 10-40% of discounts in the gamification. This motivates users to become subscribers and purchase from you.
Opt-in at Checkouts
According to Google Guidelines, you can not use the email used for placing orders to send promotional messages. Hence, you can add a tick-box at the time of checkout to get permission for sending promotional messages.
People don’t hesitate to tick off at this stage since they already placed an order and would appreciate updates from you.
Giveaway free products, samples, or other items to get emails in exchange. It can be a physical product (shampoo, notebook, hamper, etc.) or an info product (e-book, white paper, etc.), or some service (30-day free trial).
In fact, Robbie, Co-Founder of Virayo, a B2B search marketing agency, gained 1171 emails in 10 days with the help of giveaways. He explains the entire process of gaining emails via giveaway. The best way to get maximum benefit is to reduce the competition by allowing additional entries for each referral.
Self Discovery, Assessment, or Quizzes
We often take quizzes and assessments on the internet. You could conduct these too and provide the results via emails. It is a simple yet effective way to engage with users and capture their emails.
Just create an assessment or quiz relevant to your target audience. For instance, if you are a beauty brand, you can conduct quizzes such as “determine your skin type” or “Check hair health with this quiz”.
This tactic adds active and interested subscribers to your email list.
Webinars are a great way to attract users. You could use interactive but pre-recorded webinars. People love to attend these as they offer a lot of value in a limited time. It is a great lead magnet with a high conversion rate when targeted correctly.
Identify the topic that your target audience would be interested in and offer valuable webinars along the same lines. Alternatively, you could provide a recording of the webinar in the exchange of email addresses, which would enhance the conversion rate.
How to Maintain an Email List?
Your job does not end by building an email list. You need to ensure that your email list converts and has active users. So, how do you do that? Here are 4 steps to ensure a quality email list that converts:
Monitor the engagement on your emails
Track metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate. They will give you a clear picture of your email marketing efforts.
Remove the inactive users
You don't want your email list to have a low open rate with no conversion. Every month scrap off the email addresses that do not respond. You could also send an email to check up on the inactive users. It could be as simple as asking them if they want to unsubscribe for any reason.
Engage with your subscribers
You need to extract the value out of your email list and nurture those subscribers. So, send 1-3 emails every week and try selling something every month.
Check your email content
Is your email mobile optimized? Is the subject line fascinating enough? Do the images load timely? Ensure that the email reaches the users without any technical issues or UX/UI errors.
Building and maintaining an email list gives you benefits in the long run. Just be sure to offer value to your users and get the right tools to make it an easy process.
All these strategies will help you to create a relevant lead magnet and get started in building an email list. Just be sure to follow the guidelines, if any, to avoid penalties or ending up in the spam section.
How to create an email list?
Create a lead magnet, Pick a distribution channel, Create a landing page, and pick an email marketing software.
Is it legal to buy an email list?
Yes, it is legal to buy an email list but sending spammy messages who haven't opted for your newsletter might be illegal.
What is an email list used for?
An email list is used to send out emails to customers about offers, updates, discounts, or other details.