Mailing lists are an asset to business owners across industries. Whether you use your email list to distribute a newsletter, introduce new products, offer sales and promotions, or maintain engagement and interest in your business, an email list is a valuable communications and marketing tool that extends beyond basic lead generation goals.
One of the challenges many small business owners face is not as much creating content that is appropriate for emails, or even scheduling emails to hit the sweet spot of maintaining consistent engagement without overburdening users with too many messages. One of the biggest challenges, and a potential barrier to success, is building a good list that is a mixture of strong leads, brand advocates and engaged consumers.
To build a solid list of email recipients, and thus to grow your engaged audience, follow the same principles that should be guiding your overall communications and marketing strategy: make it easy to say yes and create content that adds value to your audience while emphasizing your position as an expert in your field.
Add Mailing List Opt-ins to Your Website
This advice is simple, but all too often overlooked. Given that the prevailing directive is to “make it easy to say yes,” put the option to do so right in front of your audience in a way that is simple, clear and direct.
Make sure that calls to action for the email list opt-in are visible throughout your site in multiple locations and in multiple formats. But do be aware that any content piece on your website, including a call to action, needs to be cohesive with the aesthetic of your site and your brand. Your email list opt-in needs to make sense in the context of your messaging, or you run the risk of alienating someone from your brand rather than bringing that person closer to your brand.
Add Email Sign Up to Your Facebook Page
A common scenario for small business owners is that they have a large Facebook following but a comparatively small email list. A large Facebook following can be great for small businesses, and for non-profits in particular, for whom some funding sources are tied to the number of followers an organization has. However, in terms of direct message communication, it is not a substitute for the value of a large, engaged email list.
The Facebook algorithm controls who sees your posts when, and there is no guarantee, particularly if you are not interested in or able to afford boosting your posts, that a significant percentage of your Facebook followers will see your posts. With the email list, you control distribution.
All of this is to say, “get them where they are.” If you have a large group of followers on Facebook, make it a specific communications and marketing objective to convert those followers to email subscribers. The easiest way to do this is to add an email list opt-in directly to your business Facebook page. MailChimp, Constant Contact, MadMimi and other popular email platforms have easy-to-integrate apps for Facebook that make signing up directly on your page fast and easy for your followers.
Include a Call to Action in Your Email Signature
Another simple, but often missed, opportunity to increase your subscriber list is to include a sign up link in your email signature field.
A simple call to action to sign up included in the bottom of your direct emails to clients, colleagues and partners can go a long way in building your list,
Offer a Giveaway to New Mailing List Subscribers
Giveaways are a great way to incentivize prospective email subscribers, and they can be designed in a number of ways. You may run a special product giveaway for a limited time, or you may want to create a giveaway that is always available to new sign ups to your list.
For a subscriber giveaway that is both cost effective and a support to your communications and marketing strategy, consider creating a high value content piece available only upon sign up. Create a content piece that reinforces your position as an expert and gives your audience something for free without running the risk of discounting your products so much or so frequently that you are undermining your value or threatening your bottom line. Content giveaways can be anything from white papers or infographics to tips sheets, instructional videos, or a compilation of articles, depending on your industry and your audience.
The giveaway also gives you a chance to promote your mailing list across your social media channels and on your website in a new way. By using an incentive like this, you are able to promote content that reinforces your unique value and expertise, key elements to any communications and marketing strategy.
Create an Exclusive Piece of Content Available Only to Mailing List Subscribers
Another way to use content to grow your mailing list is to provide content exclusively to mailing list subscribers on a regular basis, and to promote that content across channels. This content, sent directly to your list, could be an interesting interview with an industry insider, a new product video, an article about an engaging topic, or an exclusive Q&A with you or a member of your team.
Exclusive content like this, content that is relevant to and appreciated by your audience, reinforces the value of being on your mailing list. This is useful not only for growing your list but, just as importantly, for retaining the subscribers you already have.