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The importance of an email list (and how you can build one!)

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So you’ve got a shiny website, fabulous engagement on social media and pull out all the stops when it comes to physical networking – but how do you keep in touch with people who are interested in your product/service but aren’t quite ready to buy yet? What happens when people come to your website but need a little bit more gentle persuasion before they press the ‘buy now’ button? What you need is a mailing list – a list of contact details (including email addresses) for existing and potential customers that you can market to.

There are so many affordable CRM and Email Marketing Platforms out there that give you the ability to collate contacts who have given their express permission for you to market to them, and sent them regular, useful content via email to keep your business top of mind, so that if/when they do decide to buy, you’re the first business they think of (for all the right reasons!).  Tools like Keap (https://keap.com/) and ActiveCampaign (https://www.activecampaign.com/) – to name but a few – can be an effective way of keeping in touch with your existing and potential customers in a way that feels tailored and personal to them, without you and your team having to dedicate hours of time to manual emails and/or follow up calls.

Here are my top tips for list building:

1.) Create an entry point into your mailing list – some businesses just have a sign up form on their website (easily created in a tool like Keap, Active Campaign or Mailchimp, and simple to insert into a webpage with very little technical knowledge required) that simply drops interested parties into a mailing list for regular weekly or monthly newsletters. Other organisations prefer to use lead magnets – useful downloadable items (PDFs, ebooks, templates, etc.) that are given free to a customer in exchange for their email details.  Either way, having at least one entry point into your email list is essential! From my experience, providing useful information to your customer that they can access for free can also be a great way of showcasing your knowledge, skillset and the professionalism of your work, so why not think if there is something useful that you can create for your customer demographic? It could be a valuable resource to promote on social media and at physical networking events too, and could help you grow your mailing list in a positive way.

2.) Consider GDPR – an incredibly important consideration when growing your mailing list are the General Data Protection Regulations.  Under GDPR, you cannot send email marketing content to individuals unless you have their specific consent (see – https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-pecr/electronic-and-telephone-marketing/electronic-mail-marketing/ for more information).  For this reason, make sure that it is clear that by signing up to your mailing list, an individual is giving their consent for you to market to them.  If they are signing up purely for a lead magnet, you need to ensure that they actively want to receive marketing from you after they have received that information, and that they want you to keep their contact records on file; it may be that some people want to be deleted as soon as they’ve received their freebie, and under GDPR you need to ensure that they have the ability to do that easily. The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) is a great source of information about the rules of the GDPR – see the link above for more information.

3.) Don’t let the list stagnate – once you’ve got a list, don’t just leave it to sit and stagnate! You’ve potentially hundreds or thousands of people who actively want to receive information from you, so make sure that you send out regular newsletters or updates to keep in touch.  Every time you send an email out via a tool like Keap, ActiveCampaign or Mailchimp, take a quick look at the deliverability and engagement statistics – it’s likely that you’ll always receive the odd unsubscribe or email bounce, so be sure to remove them from the system to keep it up to date. It’s the best way to ensure that the group of individuals in your mailing list are the ones who are really interested in your product/service(s).

4.) Segment! Many of the email marketing tools on the market give you the ability to segment your contacts into smaller groups of individuals.  These might be past customers, existing customers, people who are interested in just one specific product/service that you offer rather than the full range, etc.  If you can create content tailored to these unique segments within your mailing list, it’s likely that they’ll engage with it more positively because it’s relevant and specific to them.  This is a great way of building positive relationships with your mailing list with relatively little input from you or your team.

5.) Personalise content for maximum efficacy – as mentioned above, engagement rates (email opens, link clicks and shares) are often higher if an individual feels that they are receiving a personalised email rather than one sent out en-masse.  Many of the email marketing tools allow you to insert custom fields into the content (whether that’s just their name, birthday, the name of the last product they bought from you or the date of their last purchase – the options are endless!), and these can be a great way of personalising content, so that every single email sent out is unique to the individual receiving it.

6.) Keep testing and perfecting! Just like all forms of marketing, once you’ve found something that works for you you shouldn’t rest on your laurels! Monitor open and engagement rates, trial sending emails at different times of the day (or use a tool that will try and establish that for each recipient!), and consider using offers and opt-ins (like lead-magnets, or low cost ‘tripwire’ products) to try and improve your engagement rate.  Hopefully, this will have the added benefit of also increasing your conversion rate – that is, the number of people who end up becoming paid-for customers.

7.) Quality over quantity – this is one of the most important things to consider when it comes to email marketing and list size, as it’s incredibly easy to feel a little downbeat when you compare a relatively small but highly engaged email list to someone who’s got thousands of contacts on their mailing list.  Every business is different, and at the end of the day it’s the conversions that matter! Someone might have 10,000 people on their mailing list but have a huge unsubscribe rate every time they mail out, whereas another individual might have a list of 50 people but know that every time they send out an email, almost every person on that list opens and engages with the content, and can guarantee that at least one of that list will purchase something… for me, it’s quality over quantity every time!

If you’d like to grow an email list for your business but aren’t sure about the best tools to use or how to set it up, remember that I am here to help!  You can contact me at [email protected] – I’d love to hear from you!

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