Building an email list is often a big challenge for the majority of small businesses. Why?
Because inbox clutter is ever on the increase and people’s attention span is going down. More so, online users and customers are becoming more sensitive and impatient to unwanted communication.
If you want to succeed at creating a loyal and high-converting email list for your small business, you need to build it with care and relevant.
In the rest of this article, I’ll share a number of effective ways you can build your email list, including strategies and best practices to guide you along the way.
How Email Marketing Works
A lot goes behind the scene but you don’t have to worry your head over the intricacies of email marketing.
When you’re just getting started, you need to choose an email service provider. With this provider, you have access to their software which allows you to set up an opt-in form or web form on your web page or landing page.
Once someone visits your page and fills out the form, they’re automatically added to your email list. Here’s a good web form on the SuperOffice landing page:
From there, you can communicate with these subscribers (i.e., potential customers) on a regular basis, answer their questions, provide useful information (in the form of blog posts, videos, white papers, webinars, etc.), and sell them your products.
To get started, you can begin with MailChimp or Constant Contact. Either of these tools work well for small businesses.
Once you start your email marketing journey with the right tool, you can access reports on how many email subscribers you have, the number of emails delivered (not sent to spam), how many emails were opened, the exact links that subscribers clicked on your emails.
So how do you get people to actually subscribe to your email list? Just like in real life, people want something for the trouble.
So if you want, for example, a manager in an organization or a salesperson to subscribe, you need a lead magnet.
Any valuable offer you’ll give to anyone who submits their name and email address, and you’ll charge $0.00 for it. This will motivate people to subscribe to your email list.
In summary, one of the best ways to get significant results with email marketing is to set up automated emails -- these emails are automatically sent to whoever opts into your list.
You can set it up once and use it to communicate with prospects for years.
If you don’t know where to begin, contact Bloominari, a digital marketing agency specializing in email marketing, paid search, and SEO -- we’ll set up your email campaign, drive traffic to your landing page, and help you craft engaging copy to grow your sales and profit.
That being said, here are the 6 steps you can take to build an email list that will grow your small business:
How to Build an Email List in 6 Steps
There are several undeniable steps every business must take when building an email list. Depending on your service provider, the steps may differ slightly but they’re all geared towards the same end goal.
Follow the steps below to easily navigate through the foundational process:
1. Choose the Right Email Service Provider
This is probably the first step you should take. With so many email providers in the marketplace, you need to choose one that allows you to meet your business’ goals, especially when you’re new in the block.
Some email service providers have software features that are way too complicated for beginners to master.
If you don’t want to mess around with complex sequences at the beginning, then examine the features that each provider offers and decide accordingly.
Analytics is very important. So choose an email service provider that has a simple and easy to understand reports for open rates, click-through rates, conversion rates, and so on.
More importantly, avoid free email service providers at all costs. Don’t waste time on them because they’ll cost you more in the long-run.
For example, when you send an email with any of them, it’d most likely get caught in the spam folder of your subscribers.
You can use a low-cost alternative such as MailChimp, GetResponse, or Constant Contact. MailChimp isn’t free forever, but you can use it for free for your first 2,000 email subscribers.
In all, choose an email service provider that allows you to:
- Build a database (contact list) of subscribers
- Build as many simple web forms for your landing pages.
- Send emails to your subscribers anytime.
- Set up workflows and automated follow-up sequences.
- Tag or segment your contacts based on their behavior, location, interest, how they found your website, and so on.
2. Create an Irresistible Lead Magnet
A lead magnet makes all the difference.
If company A generates 5,000 visitors to its landing page as Company B, what determines how many subscribers each of these companies attract is their lead magnet.
This lead magnet (i.e., a freebie) can be in the form of a report, an eBook, software, video, white paper, swipe file, a sample proposal, you name it.
Here’s a good lead magnet from Bidsketch; it’s a sample proposal:
You offer it to potential customers when they first come in contact with your website or landing page.
Bear in mind that this is what entices people to enter their email address and name on your web form. If your lead magnet isn’t compelling enough, they’ll leave.
As a rule of thumb, the best freebie is one that directly solves a particular problem for the prospect.
For example, if your business creates hair loss products, you might consider offering a freebie on “3 Best Tips to Stop Hair Loss” or even an instructional video that helps them understand their hair types and how to prevent loss.
Also, design matters a lot. Because on the internet, people are moved by what they see first, not what’s inside. Or garnish your text-based page with a video, just like Hear and Play does on their landing page:
3. Create Engaging Automated Email Sequence
With email marketing, you can set up a series of emails and have them sent to your new and existing contacts at intervals or whenever you want, based on your schedule.
The automated email sequence is a feature that most email service providers offer. When you set it up properly, it will be triggered immediately when a website visitor or prospects opts-in to your email list or fills out your web form.
These follow up sequence can cover the entire week or month. Or keep it simple: between 1 - 6 days at intervals.
It’s a good practice to write the emails and set them up even before driving traffic to your landing page.
To an extent, it’s more important than setting up a Google Ads account, running your first Facebook ad, or using influencer marketing to attract a new audience.
Your email service provider should allow you to use a standard HTML editor to create and set up the emails, and provide you with a clear schedule for when the emails are delivered.
In summary, this schedule works:
Day #1: Deliver your freebie or lead magnet to your subscriber the moment they opt-in. You can also give a brief background of who you are, what you do, and why they should trust you. It’s the first email you send after they sign up.
24 hours interval: Send Welcome Email & Set Expectations.
This is the second email that should go out to your prospect after you must have delivered the freebie they requested. In this email, formally welcome the person, and remind them why they subscribed: to get your freebie. Again, include a link to the freebie -- peradventure they didn’t get in Day #1.
Note: Make sure you let the prospect know how often you’ll be sending them emails; when to expect your emails, what types of content format you’ll be sending them, how these emails can help them, and the offer you’ll recommend.
Always send this “Welcome Email” within 24 hours after your freebie has been delivered. It’ll help the prospects to know your brand better.
Day #3: Provide Immense Value and Introduce Where Your Business is At
If your freebie details 3 tips, this is another follow up email that should take each of the tips and provide actionable insights they can implement right now. Yes, you can include links to your instructional videos, blog posts, or webinars that show the next steps.
Better yet, you want to start connecting with them via audio. So send a downloadable audio file that answers their questions in a personal manner. Don’t forget to tell them about your business, your challenges, and how you succeeded.
The next emails for Day 4, and going forward should provide additional value, an invitation to a webinar (recorded or live), a product recommendation, or simply ask the prospect what their challenges are, and how best you can help them.
For additional study:
>> 10 Automated Emails You Should Be Sending Your New Subscribers
4. Create Your Landing Page
A landing page is usually a standalone page where your ideal customer will first make contact with your business, often after reading your blog post, clicking on an ad you placed on Facebook or search or any other publisher’s site.
Your landing page should be designed to create awareness, generate massive interest, and entice visitors to fill out the webform and give you their email address in exchange for your lead magnet (e.g., a whitepaper). Here’s an example from Shopify:
These days, it’s so easy to set up a high-converting landing page.
You can either use a landing page builder such as Instapage, ClickFunnels, Unbounce, which is quicker or you can decide to do it from scratch if you’re a web designer. I recommend using a builder.
After creating your landing page, sync your email web form with the page so that users can opt-in without any issues. Whatever landing page tool you decide to use, keep these tips in mind:
i). Write a compelling headline: According to Brian Clark, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline and be drawn into your content as a result.
Make sure your headline instantly grabs a visitor’s attention and give them a reason to stick to your page. Keep it short -- about 60 characters. After reading your headline, people should be quick to sign up for your freebie immediately.
Here’s an attractive and benefit-driven headline from SpyFu, a competitor analysis tool:
ii). Add catchy visuals: The human mind is designed to respond to visuals more than text-based information. That’s why using photos or custom graphics on your landing page is important.
You will get better results if the visuals align with your brand and they draw people towards your freebie. Lyft, the ride-sharing app company uses a smiling lady on its landing page to draw attention.
For example, if you’re giving away a white paper, it’s important to design a professional cover, superimpose your white paper title, and position your logo where it can make the most impact.
iii). Include an enticing call-to-action: This is the point where you nudge the user to take action. The call-to-action (CTA) on your landing page must be clear and catchy. The wording or text, color, and placement, on the CTA button, equally matters.
For example, ThriveHive uses “Get Your Grade” on its call-to-action to entice visitors who want to get 7x more traffic from Google.
More importantly, make sure the CTA reflects the same ad copy the prospect clicked on before landing on your page. This creates a message match.
For example, if you advertise on Facebook that you are offering a new tool for recruiting quickly, then your landing page CTA should reflect something similar -- such as “Click to Get the Top 7 Methods to Recruit the Right People Quickly.”
5. Sync Each Element to Start Building a Loyal Email List
There are several arms to a successful email list. You need to connect everything and make sure there’s complete sync before launching out fully. The first thing, of course, is integrating a web form into your landing page.
Depending on the email service provider you choose, the process can differ slightly. But most, if not all, will require you to choose a web form template from the pack, customize it to your desire, and copy the HTML code onto your landing page.
Ideally, if you set up your landing page using any of the builders around, such as Leadpages or ClickFunnels, you’ll be required to integrate your email marketing autoresponder.
Watch this video to learn how to integrate MailChimp to Clickfunnels:
Once you’re done with the basic integrations of your email service provider with the landing page, then you can run your campaign for a few weeks or months before testing the elements.
6. Conduct A/B Testing to Get Better Results
Although this is an advanced email marketing technique. But it’s worth it if you give it a shot -- as it’d increase your open rate, landing page conversion, and more.
Even before the advanced A/B testing, do a quick test of your email marketing system to know whether or not there’s an issue somewhere.
Start by entering your email address in the web form right on your landing page. If everything works well, then you should receive the freebie in your inbox instantly or after confirming your account.
Also, check if the Welcome Email is sent correctly, did you make a mistake in the copy, is the subject line too generic or unattractive? Fix those quickly.
Make sure you do this basic test before sending traffic to your landing pages. You can even request a friend to test it also with their own email address.
Next, you can conduct an A/B test to determine which email subject line works best, which color to use on your call-to-action button, which types of visuals (objects, custom graphics, or stock photos) work best on your landing page.
Watch this video to learn how to conduct A/B test on your email:
Every small business needs the right email marketing strategy to thrive.
It doesn’t matter what products or services you offer to your customers, it’s always a smart move to prioritize email marketing over social media marketing or even word of mouth.
In summary, two of the most important best practices to keep in mind when using email marketing to power your small business’ growth is personalization.
As long as you can personalize your recipient’s experience across the board, they’ll open your email, read it, and act on it.