Building an Email List is one of the most important things you can do for your business because it is what bridges the gap between someone showing an interest in your business and making that all important purchase.
Yes, someone may buy from you the moment they first visit your website. But what if they don’t?
Email provides a low commitment first step for someone to take to start in their relationship with your business.
Purchasing might be too big of a step for them to take straight away. You might need to build up some more trust & likability first.
Or they might think what you have is great but they aren’t ready to buy right now as they are waiting until pay day or for that special someone’s birthday to come up.
It is your job to remind them that you exist – and email provides a perfect avenue for this.
Yes, they may follow you on social media to be reminded of what you offer. But what if they don’t?
Algorithms might not even show them your posts. Or they might not log into their Instagram the day you happen to post your new product.
Email, on the other hand, will be waiting for them in their inbox the next time they login. It is then their choice to read it (and not an algorithm).
The bottom line is that email provides us with an amazing opportunity to convert more of our audience into buyers because it is all about retargeting those who have already put their hand up and said, yes, I like what you offer.
In this ultimate guide, I’m sharing all the steps you need to take to get started building your email list.
To help you along the way, you’ll also want to download the companion resources list. In this pdf, I share all my recommended tools for the steps below!
Download it here.
But before we get stuck in, a word on “spamming”…
One of the biggest hesitations people have about email marketing is that they don’t want to appear as “spammy”. After all, we are bombarded with dozens of emails every single day – why do we want to add to that noise?
And I agree, we don’t want to be spammy. We don’t want to just be sending out all of these emails with buy this or buy that.
We want to focus on providing value first in our emails. Coming at it from a perspective of giving the majority of the time. Not just asking.
This is what will help you to stand out from the noise.
Step 1: Define your Ideal Subscriber
You don’t want to just have anyone on your email list.
Yes it is great to say you have 2,000 people on your list but if none of those 2,000 people will buy from you then it is worthless.
You want to create a list full of people that are your ideal customer.
If it was quantity you were after you could just go and buy a list of names or try to get people to sign up to enter a competition to win an iPad.
Instead, you want to repel as many people as you attract.
You want to focus on quality.
To do this, you need to have a clear understanding of who your ideal subscriber is.
You need to understand more than their age, gender & lifestyle. You need to learn what their biggest struggles are. What challenges they face, what they desire and what they value.
If you haven’t already got your hands on the online marketing starter kit, you might want to check it out as it includes a brilliant target market workbook to get you started on this step. Grab it here.
Step 2: Create an Opt-in Incentive
An email opt-in incentive, also known as a lead magnet, is something that you offer in exchange for an email address.
Asking for the to sign up to your newsletter is simply not enough. Remember, people don’t just want more emails to sort through and the word “newsletter” just indicates that this will be another thing to clog up their inboxes.
Instead, you want to provide something of amazing value.
There are a number of choices for this:
– A PDF document such as an ebook, worksheet or checklist
– Email Course
– Challenge or Detox
– Resource Library
– Video training
– Templates or Swipe Files
– Discounts or free shipping for the first order
Pretty much anything that you can offer free of charge that your ideal subscriber will be interested in. (You can check out a comprehensive list in this blog post).
This is where I see many people trip up. They think that in order to provide great value they need to create the most epic or amazing thing ever. And in the end they have a 20 page ebook on their hands.
The biggest problem with this? No-one wants to read a 20 page ebook! Or they think they do and they download it but never actually get around to reading it.
Instead, simple is better!
People are much more inclined to sign up for something that gives them a “quick win”. Something that they can read or do in a very short amount of time and then feel like they have gotten something out of it.
And, bonus, it means that you can get something created pretty quickly.
So don’t overthink this one!
Step 3: Create some Mockup Images
A mockup image is a graphic preview of what someone can expect from your freebie. It shows them that it is more than a little one page thing, but something beautifully designed and valuable.
You can create an image of fanned out pages (like the one above for the resources list). Or it can be a preview of the document on a bookcover, computer or a tablet like below.
You will use these graphics for landing pages and in any promotional graphics you create.
Step 4: Choose Your Delivery Method
Once you have your opt-in created, you need a way to deliver it easily and instantly to anyone who signs up to your list.
In addition, you need a way to easily manage and send more emails to these subscribers.
The most popular choice for this is MailChimp and this is a great starting point. It provides all the basic functionality you need and is free.
However, if you believe you will be working with multiple opt-ins in the future, MailChimp is much more difficult to manage. In this case, I recommend ConvertKit (this is what I use). While not free, the power it has through tagging and automations can really make email a more personalised experience.
For further reading on these you can check out these blog posts:
MailChimp vs ConvertKit
How to Automate your Emails and Still Keep it Personal
Step 5: Setup the Email Tech
Probably the most daunting part of all! Once you have chosen your delivery method you need to setup your system to deliver your opt in.
For MailChimp this means:
– Creating a List
– Creating a Sign Up Form for that List
– Updating the Double Opt In Email Confirmation
– Setting up an Automation to Receive an Email with the Opt-In attached
For ConvertKit this means:
– Creating a Form
– Adding the Incentive Email
– Linking this to a tag or sequence if you want to continue to send more automated emails
Step 6: Create a Lead Page
Now it’s time to link your new email sign-up form to your website. The main way to do this is to setup a lead page.
A lead page is a page on your website dedicated to getting people to signup for your freebie. It has no menu and no distractions.
Instead, it just focuses completely on your opt in.
It will include:
– An enticing headline
– A couple of dot points about the benefit of the opt in
– The signup form itself
– Submit button
– A mockup image
Here’s a great example:
Step 7: Create a Thank You Page
In addition, to a lead page, you’ll want to create a thank you page that they are directed to once they click submit.
This page serves two main purposes:
- To advise them to check their inboxes and confirm subscription
- For you to link to your Google Analytics goals so you can track your success
In addition, you could include links asking them to share on social media.
Once the thank you page is created you will need to go back into your email service provider and change the setting for “on submit” so that they get redirected to this URL.
Step 8: Add Multiple Signup Forms to your Website
The lead page mentioned in step 5 is the main page you will refer people to when promoting your opt-in from outside sources.
However, you also want anyone who comes to your website for a different purpose to see the invitation too.
You will want to include this in a number of places on your website.
At a minimum, you will need it somewhere on your homepage and on each of your blog posts / content pages.
Other places you may want to include it are:
– As a banner across the top of your site
– In your sidebar
– In your footer
– As a pop-up
– Within the text of your blog posts
A note on pop-ups
Personally, I am not a fan of these, especially when done badly.
One of the biggest mistakes I see small business owners make with these is that the pop-up will show up immediately and then never again. This results in this scenario:
- I go to your website and the pop-up appears. I click the X as I haven’t had a chance to look at any of the content on your website so I don’t know if I want to get your emails yet.
- I then browse your website and think “oh actually I like what this person says, I want to sign up”.
- I look around and can’t find another form
- I hit refresh and it doesn’t come up again as there is a cookie setup so that it won’t show it again to me for 30 days.
- I give up and you don’t get my email address.
Or if you go the other way and don’t have the cookie setup then I get constantly bombarded with the popup and I don’t sign up because I am annoyed at this thing that keeps appearing.
So if you want to use pop-ups, please keep a couple of things in mind:
- Only show it after a preset period of time or at exit intent
- Give another, easy to find way for me to sign up.
Step 9: Direct Promotion
Now you have everything setup it is time to spread the word about your amazing opt-in.
Opt-in incentives are one of the best things you can promote for your business as it is not asking for too much of a commitment.
Instead of asking people to buy something you are seeing if they are interested in receiving anything. This is a much easier sell!
There are almost limitless ways to promote your opt-in, but here are a few of the more popular ideas:
– Share regularly on your social media accounts
– Make it your pinned post on Facebook and Twitter
– Use your Facebook or Twitter Cover Photo to promote it
– Share in Facebook Groups (within group rules of course!)
– Create a Pin for it on Pinterest
– Create Facebook Ads
Each of these will link to the lead page you created earlier.
Step 10: Indirect Promotion
As you are providing opportunities for any website visitors to sign up to your list, any promotion of content can also direct them to sign up.
By creating interesting blog posts and sharing those across the channels mentioned above, you provide yet another means for them to get to know you.
You can also work on your SEO, get some PR or do some guest posts. Anything that will bring traffic to your site so they can see this offer.
If you want more ideas on how to promote your opt in, you can check out this blog post: 54 Ways to Promote your Business for Free.
So there you have it, all the steps you need to get started on building your email list! If you haven’t done so already, make sure you also download the resources list here.
Once you have begun you can start adding more and more opt-ins and ways in which people can join.
Then of course, you can begin sharing more about your business to this list via your regular email updates or automated welcome sequences. The result – more of your audience converting to paying customers!!