5 powerful email list building tips (that really work!)

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of email marketing. 

In fact, I’ve written a whole post on the power of email marketing for small business owners where I shared ALL the reasons I love it so much. 

(Reasons like a 3,600% return on investment and conversion rates that blow social media out of the water!)

But, to enjoy all those great email benefits you need to have an audience to email… enter my email list building tips!

A couple of important Do’s and Don’ts

This post is full of email list building tips to kickstart your list growth. But, before you get going you should consider the following…

✅  Be aware of the relevant privacy and data protection regulations. 

When you collect names and email addresses you’re classed as “processing” personal data and have a duty to ensure that the information is safeguarded. 

Informed consent is also a cornerstone of list building, so your subscribers must know what they’re signing up for and are actively consenting to receive further marketing communications from you. 

I’m not a legal expert so I’d recommend you read up on the relevant regulations that cover your jurisdiction (be aware that if you have email subscribers worldwide then you may be subject to regulations in more than one area). 

❌ Do NOT buy email lists (or sell any data that you’ve collected) 

If you Google “how to build an email list fast”, or similar, you’ll probably come up with lots of results that promise to provide you with thousands of leads… for a price, of course. 

But, be warned, “buying” an email list is a TERRIBLE idea. 

Being granted access to your customer's email inbox is a privilege - so to abuse that by purchasing details of people who may never have consented to hear from you is not a good look for your business. 

Plus, it’s probably illegal to boot. So, don’t do it, ok?!

❌ Do NOT get bogged down in the number of subscribers

As with all aspects of marketing, when it comes to your email list it's all about the quality of the leads you’re collecting, not the overall quantity of subscribers. 

So try not to get sidetracked with reaching a certain “magic number” of subscribers. 

Having a small list of 100 subscribers who are your ideal client and are truly engaged in your emails is bound to have a greater impact than 1,000 people who don’t open or click on anything you send them!

5 email list building tips for small business owners

Ready to start collecting some email addresses? Read on for some email list building tips that actually work!

1. Make it worthwhile

Did you know that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day? That is a LOT. 

As the number of emails we receive continues to increase, we’re all getting more protective over our inboxes. 

So, your audience is only going to part with their email address if they feel that the content they’ll receive is:

✅  Relevant 

✅  Beneficial

✅  Quick to consume

And an easy way to tick all those boxes?

A high-quality lead magnet!

A lead magnet, or “opt-in freebie”, is simply a piece of content that you give away in return for your subscriber's email address. 

(Think of it as an ethical “bribe”!)

To be successful, you need to choose the topic of your lead magnet very carefully. It should be highly related to your offering and to what your ideal clients are currently struggling with

A great lead magnet will focus on providing ONE “quick win” solution to ONE burning problem faced by your audience. It should be easy to consume, actionable and lead them to the logical next step in your sales funnel

So, what should your lead magnet be?

A lead magnet can be anything that will provide value! 

Checklists, video series, ebooks, printables and templates are all great options, or you can present a free live webinar on a hot topic that requires live “teaching” - this option works great when you have a course you’re looking to upsell. 

But, a lead magnet doesn’t even have to be free.

One option that’s become more popular recently is to offer an actionable workshop at a very accessible price. By charging for the workshop you’re more likely to generate leads who are ready to act and a workshop can be a great “taster” to show what your higher-priced, premium service can offer.

2. Shout about it

One thing people often underestimate about marketing is just HOW MANY times you need to repeat your message. So, once you have a great lead magnet and you’re ready to start collecting those email addresses it’s time to start telling people about it. 

It’s not enough to have a form on your site - you need to make your email sign-up visible EVERYWHERE, like

✅  On your social media: add it to your bio and social links, as well as making it a regular feature of your posts, stories and videos. 

✅  On your blog posts or podcasts: make it the call to action for your content marketing and make sure any guest posting or podcasting you do directs people to your sign-up page.

✅  In-person events: at a conference or other industry event? Instead of swapping business cards, consider asking people to sign up to your list to hear more from you. You can do this with a QR code that you can integrate with your email service provider, or simply ask people to pop their details into an iPad. 

The more you shout about it, the more subscribers you’ll attract!

3. Try (polite!) pop-ups

When it comes to having opt-in forms on your website, don’t overlook the power of a pop-up. 

Yes, we’ve all come across websites where a form pops up immediately, blocking your view of the content so we just click away. But, done properly, pop-up forms can be very effective. 

In fact, according to Sumo, the average conversion rate for pop-ups is 3.09% vs. the average email opt-in rate of 1.95%.

My top pop-up tip?

Use Google Analytics to see how long, on average, your visitors spend on your website. That way you don't time the pop-up too early (i.e. as soon as they get to your website, which sucks), or too late.

You can read more about the different pop-up types (including some great examples) over on the Active Campaign blog. 

4. Keep it simple

Have you ever gone to sign up for an email list, only to find that they ask you a million questions or, even worse, ask for your telephone number?

The minute you start worrying about WHY they’re asking for certain data, it’s more likely you’ll abandon the attempt so, the more fields you put on your opt-in form, the fewer sign-ups you’ll receive.

I recommend you ask for first name and email address only - that way you have enough information to personalise your emails. 

5. Follow through

This final point is the most important…

Once you’ve got people on your list, DO NOT forget about them!

Your email list will go “cold” much sooner than you think. So, if you say you’re going to email every week then do that (even if you only have your mum and one other subscriber on the list 😉)

Treat every subscriber like a VIP from day one and you won’t go too far wrong!

Need more tips on sending great emails to your list? Check out my blog on email marketing tips for small businesses!

There you have it - my best email list building tips to get your email marketing strategy going with a bang!

Want to make sure that your list building efforts are supported by a solid marketing strategy? 

My Ultimate Marketing Checklist will get you set up on the right foot, so you can make the most of your email list!

Grab your copy right here…

About the Author Letitia Deanne

My passion is to help small business owners, just like you, to grow their business with simple and effective marketing systems that are easy to understand and maintain.

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