• Claire Shelley

Why do you need to start a mailing list?

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Your most important marketing asset

We spend a lot of time online and it’s easy to scroll by a post on social media, but getting an email is a more direct way of reaching out.

Unlike brochures, flyers or in-person events, email marketing costs next to nothing and you can potentially reach more people. You probably know a handful of people who are not on social media, but these days it would be hard for you to think of anyone without an email address.

I believe that your email list is your most important asset. With a list, you can build relationships, share your story, provide business updates and ultimately, turn your subscribers into customers.

Mailing lists consist of people who are your target audience and are the ones who are most likely to buy your product or service.

Here are some suggestions and tips for growing a list and best practices for managing it.

How to get people to join your list

The most popular way to get people to hand over their contact details is to provide some valuable information, something which will help solve a problem or suggest new ideas and inspiration.

This could be in the form of a free webinar, ebook, white paper or PDF guide, it's known as a "lead magnet" or “gated offer”.

Data can be collected in exchange for your freebie by adding a pop-up or embedded form on your website, or by building a landing page.

“It's tempting to collect as much information on a user as possible right away, but adding too many fields to your landing pages and lead-capturing forms can actually scare people off. Reduce the length of your forms to just two to three fields -- you can collect more information from them once you start a conversation.” Andy Pitre, Hubspot

A quick note about GDPR.

The most effective way to collect data is by using a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Mailchimp is a popular choice, but there’s a huge selection of CRMs available and it’s important to choose software that fits your business requirements and integrates with the other systems that you already have in place.

A CRM will do a lot of the hard work for you. You can automate emails and get detailed insight into your audience and their preferences using the data that a CRM will provide.

Grow your list

Ideally, you need to make your lead magnet as visible as possible to increase the chances of people downloading it or opting in.

Put your lead magnet on every page of your website. Then regardless of where a visitor lands, your lead magnet is easy to find. If you don’t want the lead magnet to be a permanent fixture on a page, you could use a pop-up to promote your freebie instead.

Talk about and promote your lead magnet on your social media platforms. Give your audience regular reminders of your amazing free offer and why they need to download your PDF or sign up to your webinar!

Why not keep your lead magnet in a ‘pinned post’ at the top of your social media profile page?

To increase your chances of people subscribing to your list, it can be helpful to have more than one lead magnet. It can take a few attempts to find out what content resonates with your audience and not everyone will have the same needs or requirements. So having a couple of different options will help you to attract a wider audience.

If you find you aren’t getting many sign-ups, it might be time to try a different offering.

Widen your audience and find new people using Facebook Ads

As well as using organic marketing, you could consider some paid promotion if you want to build your list quickly and cast your net further.

Facebook and Instagram ads aren’t just used for selling, the advantage of Facebook ads is the highly specific targeting. You can create an ad that reaches the right people and drives them to your site or landing page so that they can opt-in for your lead magnet.

If you want to build your business further, once you have a list, Facebook can generate an audience of people who are similar to the people on your list, a Lookalike audience. Showing ads to these people could help to grow your list even more, it's powerful stuff.

Use automation to make your life easier

I am a big fan of using automation as it saves so much time. Sending a personalised welcome email to each new subscriber is starting the relationship off on the right foot. You could even turn this into a series of emails as a welcoming campaign. By engaging with your new members straight away, you are getting to know each other and it could potentially start up a conversation.

I also believe that it’s important to let people unsubscribe easily! Make sure your unsubscribe button is visible on every email. Hiding this option is not only bad manners but it will help you to avoid any spam complaints.

Another thing I include in the footer of emails my social media buttons. You want to encourage people to follow you on social media to build your following, so suggest that if they aren’t already, to click on the buttons and follow you.

Review your data

The benefit of using a CRM is the data and analytics provided. You can really get a sense of who is your warmest audience.

Take a look at the opens, link clicks, unsubscribes and inactive people on your list. If your subscribers love what you’re sending them and show activity, you have nothing to worry about. But if the engagement is low, you need to take action and reconsider your email subject titles and the content you’re sending.

Inactive subscribers interfere with your data and skewed data can cause you to make incorrect marketing decisions. As an example, how can you identify why your open rates are low if the email went to both active and inactive subscribers?

If you have a high number of inactive subscribers, you could try a re-engagement email campaign to find out if they still want to be on your list and try to win them back.

As a time-tested marketing method, email continues to be the most reliable and effective tool. Send information that’s relevant, helpful and in tune with your ideal client.

If you have any tips and experiences you would like to share regarding mailing lists, I’d love to hear them! Email hello@claireshelley.co.uk

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