5 Ridiculously Simple Steps to Build Your Email List
The money is in the list.
That’s what everyone is saying.
You know all these already.
You are part of other brands’ and writers’ email list. You see how they send emails as if they’re talking to you. They share their journeys, successes, and failures. Over time, this builds your trust in them. Before you know it, every time they send you an email, whether it’s about a new blog post, asking a survey, or launching a course, you are willing to look into it—and maybe even consider buying it.
But let’s go back to you.
Why aren’t you doing the same thing?
If you know that email can help you achieve a high return on investment, why aren’t you using email more often?
Or more specifically, why aren’t you building your email list?
Whether you’re a freelancer, writer, a local business, or a big corporation, you absolutely need to build your email list if you want to grow and succeed.
The Biggest Reason Your Email List Isn’t Growing
I’ve worked with close to 50 email marketing accounts, and 98% of them aren’t achieving their full potential. And the problem lies in their primary method of capturing emails: newsletter subscriptions.
Newsletters are the lazy way of building your list. It’s not effective, nor does it add value to the subscriber. Yet, it’s the number one tactic used by everyone who uses email marketing. After all, the process is easy:
- Create a form
- Put it on your website
- People enter their email
But things aren’t as simple as that.
You can’t expect people to trust you with their email. They don’t know you. It’s like passing by a stranger on the street holding out a sign. After reading it, would you give that person your email address or your phone number?
Didn’t think so.
You also failed to answer the most basic question every other living person asks when faced with a decision:
What’s in it for me?
If you want to build your email list effectively, you’ve got to offer something more valuable to your readers. Let me show you how.
1. Create Marketing Offers
Marketing offers, or lead magnets, are special pieces of content that people are willing to trade their contact information to gain access to it. They can come in the form of PDFs (like white papers and eBooks), spreadsheets, and email courses.
Marketing offers are the only proven way to generate leads online. The newsletter signup is one of them. But, that by itself isn’t enough. Unless you’re a rockstar in your industry, you’ve got to provide more value to your readers.
Here are a few examples:
- If you’re a photographer, you can create a five-part email course about the basics of photography.
- If you’re an accounting firm, you can create a PDF checklist with all the tax returns businesses need. In fact, you can create a one-pager for each state, industry, or business type.
- If you’re an eCommerce site, you can create a First-Time Online Buyer’s Guide to educate people about buying stuff online.
- If you’re a writer, come up with a case study for how you helped your client grow their traffic; or a swipe file (compilation) of all your favorite writing formulas
Now, which one will you be more willing to give your email address to:
- A blog post with a generic newsletter subscription— “If you want to receive articles like this subscribe to our newsletter”
- A blog post with a specific marketing offer— “Grow your organic traffic by 110% in 3 months by following this guide”
All things being equal, you’d most likely answer number two every single time.
Homework: Look at your top three performing blog posts and create a specific marketing offer for each of them. If your post is about how to write headlines, your offer can be a checklist of the 25 most powerful headline formulas. This is also known as a content upgrade.
2. Use Landing Pages Designed to Convert
Now that you have your marketing offer, it’s time to create a conversion-focused page. This is called a landing page.
Landing pages are designed with a single goal: conversion. In our case, this is to grow your email subscribers. But landing pages can also be used for direct sales purchases too.
“It’s this focus that makes landing pages the best option for increasing the conversion rates of your marketing campaigns and lowering your cost of acquiring a lead or sale.”—Unbounce
You can use standalone landing page builders like Unbounce or Instapage. Or if your email marketing software already offers it, use the built-in landing page builder. The most common names are MailChimp and ConvertKit. They allow you to build your own landing pages using their drag-and-drop builders so you don’t have to worry about design or code.
Note: You can opt to use popups or forms directly on your articles, but it’s highly recommended that you experiment with using dedicated landing pages. Remember, when your popup appears on a blog post, readers can easily dismiss it. You also don’t have space to share more benefits of the offer nor ask more questions in your form. You can do this easily using landing pages.
3. Create Awesome Thank You Emails
A thank you email is a supplement to the landing page you created. It is a confirmation of the action that your user just took. For example, if your offer is to download a checklist, here are two things it should contain:
- Thank them for downloading the checklist
- Allow them to download the checklist
As you can see below, your thank you email doesn’t have to be complicated.
Alternatively, you can add a few more details like this example below.
As you can see from the example above, SEMrush added several CTAs and some other important information that the reader may find valuable. You can experiment on these to find out which one works better.
One thing you need to note is that this email is only triggered when a person fills out the specific form or landing page you created for this marketing offer. Meaning, if you have multiple marketing offers (which is highly recommended), you can set each copy differently.
This is powerful because you get to customize each one to be hyper-relevant to your offer. This adds more value and keeps your readers more engaged. Imagine receiving a thank you email that looks like this.
After creating an account at Majestic, an SEO and backlink tool, I receive the welcome email above that not only confirms my account, but also introduces me to how Majestic can help me brainstorm link building ideas or how to reach the full potential of my existing backlinks.
I recommend starting with a simple thank you email copy to get started. From there, you can level up by adding your most popular posts related to the offer, just like the Majestic example.
Every email marketing software is different. In ConvertKit, you set this up in the form builder. They use the term incentive email instead of thank you email, but the principle remains the same: When somebody fills out this form, that email gets sent. Customize each of these thank you emails so it gets read and actioned upon.
4. Add Calls-to-Action (CTAs) All Over Your Website
A call-to-action in digital marketing is a phrase that’s used to tell the user exactly what action to take and how to take it. The most common examples are “subscribe now,” “download this eBook,” or “buy now.”
There are many ways to implement your CTAs as you’ll see in the examples below, but the important part is you add them throughout your website. This increases your chances of readers finding your marketing offers so you can build your list.
Example 1: Text-based CTA
The simple way to add calls-to-action on your website is to hyperlink your marketing offer from your articles and pages.
Example 2: Image CTA
Instead of adding just a link, you can create an image and add it in the middle and bottom of your blog posts.
Example 3: Image CTA on sidebar
You can also take this a step further by adding it to your sidebar.
Example 4: Sidebar form + ribbon CTA
Can you see how many CTAs are in this example?
From the examples above, you’ll see that there are different variations such as using text links, images, or embedding forms directly. This is one of those things that you’d have to A/B test on your site to determine which one gives you the best results.
5. Distribute Your Offer Everywhere
After creating an awesome marketing offer, most people post it once on their social media accounts and call it a day. But remember, not everyone can and will see what you post today. 10 weeks from now, your offer would still be valuable. But by then, no one has seen your offer.
Keep sharing and posting about the offer you worked so hard to create.
It’s been said that only 5% of your audience gets to see your posts on Facebook. And bigger brands can expect a much lower reach.
So don’t worry about repeating yourself.
- Start by adding CTAs across your website: homepage, sidebar, in the posts.
- Consider adding links to your landing pages on your navigational menu and footers
- Share your landing pages directly on email and social media posts
- Also share your blog posts which have links to your offers on social media
- Consider using publishing tools such as RecurPost and Meet Edgar so they automatically “recycle” your posts
Over to You
Building your email list is simple: Create marketing offers and distribute them. Relying on newsletter subscriptions won’t help you grow your list.
They just don’t provide value to the user. If you don’t want to be disappointed, start creating specific marketing offers and use them to build your list instead.