You’ve heard it. Money is in the list. Almost a cliche now, but still an online marketing philosophy that couldn’t be truer. You probably know that already, since you are reading this list building guide (how to build an email list in 2019)
It’s an effective low cost way of delivering your brand and marketing message to your current subscribers and customers. However, your email marketing strategy is only as effective as the greatness of your list. If your link building strategy was a sham then your list is likely to be scant on information, redundant and off-track
What Does List Building Process Look Like?
In its simplest form, list building process consists of 5 critical stages
- The marketer creates a compelling free resource/lead magnet that will be traded for the readers’ email addresses
- The resource opt-in form is made available on the website by displaying optin forms
- The reader sees the resource’s opt-in form and enters their email address
- The reader is added to a mailing list through the email service provider integration
- The resource download/ access link is then sent to the reader via email
Why is an Email List Important to Your Business or Blog?
There are several reasons why having an established email list is good for your business.
The only online asset that you truly own:
Email marketing is essential for your business’ thrive. Your email list is the only online asset that you truly own. Your Facebook, Twitter accounts can be deactivated anytime for bridge of their Terms and conditions. If that happens, you can still leverage your list to drive traffic to your website and scale your business.
Provides a means for direct communication.
Unlike social accounts where your updates are shoved down news-feed, your emails will be delivered directly in their inboxes. This means majority of them will be able to open and read your messages
Studies have shown that people prefer emails for promotional messages.
While there are other ways you can promote your business such as SMS and Messenger marketing, email marketing is preferred by consumers as it’s less intrusive. No one wants to see you promotional message in their Facebook messenger, trust me
Your subscribers have given you permission to talk to them.
They believe you have great insights and they won’t mind hearing from you. This fosters trust and loyalty and depending on how useful you prove to them, they will be able to buy your recommended products, which is good for your business
List building is therefore, only effective if it’s done right. Your list should consist of people who actually give a damn about what you are up to and the type of content you create. Your content isn’t for everyone. It’s for someone.
But who’s this someone?
Define your reader’s profile
Your content focuses on that particular someone, and so should your list building strategies. Take time to understand your ideal audience. The following questions can help you craft the perfect audience profile to help focus your content marketing strategies:
- Who is she and what is she up to?
- What does she dread the most and why?
- What’s her views about work, business and family?
- What fun facts do you know about her?
- What’s one thing that she truly cares about in your industry?
- What’s her major hurdle that she hopes it could be solved in your industry?
What is a high-quality email list?
A high-quality email list is a list comprising of email addresses of people representing your target audience. These are people who will benefit from your blog, product and services. You want to market your products to people who actually care about them, and are likely to purchase from you hence building a high-quality email list is crucial.
How to Build an Email List from Scratch for Beginners in 2019
Building an email list from scratch is an organic way of list building. It entails fining ways and means of bringing relevant traffic to your website and converting them into loyal subscribers through tactical and useful incentives. By entering their email addresses to receive your freebies, they consent to receive content-based and promotional emails from you as long as they always have an option to opt out.
Since email marketing is permission based, it’s an ethical method of getting your products to the right people without being annoying. However, building an email list from scratch requires skills, patience and commitment especially during the earlier stages.
Building an email list from scratch comprises of 9 critical steps:
- Signup with an email service provider of your choice. We love ConvertKit and Mailerlite.
- Define your target audience and establish where they are
- Attract them to your website with great blog posts content
- Identify their major pain point and create a working solution for them
- Package this solution as a digital product in a particular format such as a video, PDF report, cheatsheet etc.
- Beautifully display 3D covers of these product on your website with a button to download for free
- Link the optin form with your email marketing software
- Configure your integrations to ensure that solution is auto-delivered to the subscribers inbox once they signup
- Setup your welcome series emails on your email service provider to engage and orient your new subscribers
How to build an email list fast?
Email list building takes time. The fastest way to grow your list is through Paid Per Click advertising platforms such as Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and Pinterest Ads. The goal here is to send as many people to your landing page as possible. Since you’ve taken time to optimize your landing page, and your visitors are targeted, you should be able to reach 20% or so conversion rate. With enough budget, you can reach your target subscribers at no time.
Should You Buy an Email List?
Never! Email marketing is permission based. If someone has never granted you permission to email them, you should never add them to your email list, even if they are close family members. Buying and selling email lists are unethical as it bridges the rights of individuals. Ethical marketers should always be guided by this question:
“Would I be comfortable with this technique if I was on the receiving end of the bargain?”
If the answer is no, then the technique is unethical.
Another reason why buying an email list should not be an option for you is that you will never find a healthy list to purchase. Most of the email addresses in the purchased lists will result in bounces which has a greater impact in your deliverability of your emails. Those who end up receiving your emails and have never heard from you will not hesitate from marking your emails as spam. This will affect your sending reputation to a larger extent.
So buying an email list is something you should never consider. Instead, focus on building your email list from scratch using the proven list building strategies that are discussed in this post.
List Building Starts With Creating an Irresistible Lead Magnet
A lead magnet is something of value that you give in exchange for an email address or other personal information. Remember an average user sends and receives an average of 122 emails daily.
Many people would think twice before clicking that subscribe-button.
Therefore, you should make your lead magnet very appealing and actionable. In the blogging world, a lead magnet is referred to as a freebie. I
It’s important to note that people don’t want another freebie, they want a great freebie that solves their particular problems.
Therefore, a great freebie is something that solves a problem or teaches something new. You can package it in various formats such as eBooks, Mini-course, audio files, video tutorials.
Take some time to think which format would be the most suitable for the freebie you are creating.
Four Elements to Think about When Creating Your Lead Magnet.
Your freebie has to be your best work.
It’s what determines whether your subscribers would look forward to receiving your emails or not. A good freebie solves one problem, in a unique way.
- Think about relevance. Your readers land on your blog because they are interested in the topic you are blogging about, and secondly because there is a problem they are trying to solve. You need to offer them a great download that helps them solve this problem.
- Think about practicality. Another thing to consider when designing a lead magnet is practicality. Your solution should be practical, with clear steps on how to go about it.
- Think about professionalism. The last aspect which many bloggers neglect is the professional packaging. You want to send a strong brand message to your readers, and thus delivering a product that is poorly designed can
- Great content is good, but before uploading it to your site, make sure you have it professionally designed. This includes both internal designing and cover design. You can create great covers and pdf documents using an online platform such as Canva
- Think about the value. Recall that your freebie should be your best content. You want to offer something quite irresistible. In fact, you need to offer something that you would have otherwise charged $197! This way, your subscribers will willingly share it with your friends
This is your main lead magnet and should be suitable for all of your readers, especially if you blog on different categories.
Some of the specific lead magnet titles/ideas include:
- 101 websites that Pay Writers
- How to start a successful freelance business
- Simple Tips to Skyrocket Your Website Traffic with Pinterest
- Ultimate Guide to Earning $1000 per Month
What You Need to Start Building an Email List (List Building Tools)
While you may not need another book on how to build an email list, there are a few tools and resources that are necessary for you start building an effective email list
There are 30+ tools suggested and recommended by email lists experts. However, you only need three tools to start building an email list
While you don’t need blog to start collecting email addresses, you will eventually need to setup a website for your business. Starting a blog, nevertheless, is a smart move, as it gives your readers the more reason why they should subscribe to your list. Staring a blog in 2019 is as easy as grabbing your web hosting, installing WordPress, choosing a good WordPress theme and writing your first blog post.
After setting up your blog, it’s then time to add your opt-in forms using other relevant tools such as Popup widgets, Thrive Leads etc.
This is the most versatile and highly converting tool created by designers who were obsessed with conversion optimization. With Thrive leads you take control of where and when and how you want your opt-in forms to be displayed.
Smart Links feature recently introduced by Thrive Leads theme ensures that you do not show your opt-in forms to people who are already subscribed ever again. This is awesome, as opt-in offers can be quite annoying when you have already subscribed.
Emailing Service Provider
You need to integrate your Thrive Leads or your opt-in widget tools with your email service provider. There are dozen plus ESPs to choose from such as ConvertKit, Mailchimp, Aweber, Mailerlite, Constant Contact, Infusion Soft, Drip, Active Campaign etc. These tools, though all of them being email marketing firms differ with their features. We love ConvertKit, but if you are on a budget, Mailerlite is a good place to start.
With ESP, you’ll be able to:
- Allow people to subscribe and easily unsubscribe from your list
- Adhere to email marketing regulations
- Automate delivery of your freebies
- Segment your subscribers according to interests so that you will never send everything to everyone ever again
- Track subscriber engagement behavior such as open rates and click-throughs
- Display signup forms on your WordPress website
Design Your Lead Magnets with Canva
To collect email addresses, you need to give something of value in exchange. Some of the lead magnets ideas include the following:
- A free report on the major trends in your industry
- An eBook that explains major concept and how to go about it
- A video tutorial that solves a particular problem
- A webinar replay
- An effective guide based on what worked for you
- A free course relevant to your blog topics
- Authoritative whitepapers
- Audio files
- Templates such as Canva templates
- Working swipe files such as course launch email templates that worked for your new course launch
- And some other creative ideas from your crazy creative mind
Canva is a great tool that can help you design book covers, Canva templates to share, eBooks, pdf reports, cheat sheets, workbooks
29 Tips: How to Build an Email List Fast for Beginners and Advanced Learners
Since you’ve now set everything ready, it’s time we start promoting your lead magnets. There are several list building strategies that will help you to grow your list faster and we have discussed a number of them in this post.
1: Create Category Based Op-tin Offers
If your blog structure is well defined, then chances are you have already segmented your readers into three or four major categories. For instance, while we have over 15 categories in this blog, we have only four main categories: Online Business, Make Money, Marketing Skills, Productivity and Tools & Tech.
The rest are subcategories for these main categories. We could then create 5 different opt-in offers for these different reader profiles and increase conversions (P.S: We actually implementing this)
To display this, you could make use of Thrive Clever Widgets and set the five different widgets to display for the different categories.
2: Adopt Minimalism Website Design
Your website should serve three purposes at most:
Guide your readers to:
- Download your lead magnet
- Read Your blog posts
- Connect with you on social media
Therefore, you should remove any clutter content that does not help your site to achieve the objectives above as they are likely to dwindle your email list building strategies
3: Create a Squeeze page for your lead magnet.
This is a dedicated landing page for your freebie. You should briefly discuss what your readers will get if they download your freebie. Include share buttons so that people can share them with their friends on various social media platforms.
Looking for inspiration? You can have a look at the one we created for our free eCourse
4: Grow Your List with Facebook Groups
Harness the power of Facebook groups to generate quality traffic to your blog. Facebook groups are powerful since members are already interested in a particular topic. Therefore, you need to join groups under your particular niche and be of great help to other members.
Let them know that you are currently working on a lead magnet that will help them accomplish 1, 2, 3… and notify them you launch it. It’s always effective to build anticipation from the word go.
Once you have your freebie and a dedicated landing page, share it with the members in all the relevant groups you are in. Briefly explain what they will get for free, and of course that (you are afraid that this freebie may not be free forever).
Create the urge of urgency.
5: Harness the Power of Pinterest
Pinterest is a great way to get targeted subscribers. The key elements of a successful pin are:
- Great Call to Action
- Great Headline
- Great Design
If you have a scheduler, schedule your pin to go out to various boards on a daily basis. Also, add a pinnable image on your landing page and ask readers to share the freebie on Pinterest, or rather, pin it for future reference.
6: Embed Opt-in forms and Images on your website
Your readers should never look for your opt-in forms. They should be clear from the word go. Design great opt-in forms using your mailing platform or plugins such as Mailmunch, and embed them on your website.
At The Penny Matters, we use Mailerlite because it is super easy, affordable and enables us to automate most of the processes.
Some of the places to display your opt-in forms include:
- About Us page
- At the end of every post
- Within every blog post
7. Create a Free Online Tool or Resource
A one page checklist does its magic, but you bet it’s not as effective as a free tool that people can actually use to solve their day to day problems. Some of the most effective business tools that expert bloggers have created for lead generation include seo analyzers, website speed analyzers, website downtime checkers, business names generators, mockup generators etc.
While tools require a substantial investment of time, money and other resources, they are evergreen lead generation tools that will serve your business for decades to come. A good tool is one that solves the problem of your readers and is therefore relevant to your niche
8: Add engagement features to your YouTube Videos.
Adding annotations at the end of your videos will help you guide your viewers on what to do next. Since you want to build an email list, you want to send them to a free resource that’s relevant to your video content. To do this, simply add CTA to an end screen
From your video manager page, click on the EDIT button for the particular video you wish to add the annotations. A drop down menu appears. Click on the Edit Screen & Annotations. This will open up a popup with four different elements that you can add:
- Video/Playlist: This allows you to promote a related video or a playlist
- Subscribe element: Asks viewers to subscribe to your channel
- Channel: Helps you to promote another YouTube Channel
- Link: Helps you link to an external link of one of your approved websites. This is the element you want to add to the end of your videos that will link to your freebie landing page
9: Create Content Upgrades
Content upgrades help you turn each and every blog post into an email list building tool. Content upgrades are highly-specific content focused offers in exchange for email addresses. Content upgrade email opt-ins convert consistently higher than generic opt-ins since they meet the needs of the current reader of your content.
Content upgrade is created specifically for a single blog post. Thus it’s specific, relevant and useful. Just like other lead magnets, content upgrades can be delivered in various formats and forms. Remember the bonus content you are offering to your readers for taking an extra step should be actionable and useful. Good content upgrades are checklists, action plans and workbooks.
10: Do a Strategic Guest Posting.
What if you can leverage someone else’s audience to grow your email list? A great guest posting strategy can swoop your email list off the ground. To build your list with guest posts, you need to take time to intelligently select websites to target, generate RELEVANT content ideas and start pitching.
A good guest post idea is one that targets a very specific group of people. This means content idea that only suits a particular niche. And since you are hoping to build your list, your content idea should complement what your lead magnet is about. The two, lead magnet on your website and the content idea for you blog posts should all be housed under the same niche/topic.
Taking time to learn how to pitch your guest post is very critical. The tips that we share in our cold emailing guide are very critical.
Once you’ve landed your awesome guest posting opportunity, write something better than your normal posts, and then make it five times even better. If your guest post is awesome enough, the website owner will be excited to promote it further, hence more eyeballs on your post and consequentially more visits to your squeeze page.
Also, ensure you mention about your free resource at the end of your article. Making it even exclusive for that site’s visitors can boost click-throughs.
This works if you’ve put your heart and soul into your freebie. If it’s good enough, you’ll find it easier telling everyone how your free resource can benefit them. Some of the ways you can do this include:
- Telling your friends and family members if they are interested in what you do
- Including a link on your business card e.g. bneur.com/book
- Including a link on all your other printables, brochures, flyers etc.
- Talking about it in forums and Facebook groups.
- Mentioning it while answering quizzes on Quora
- Mention it when doing radio, and TV interviews
- Mention it on your podcasts and YouTube videos
12. Design highly converting squeeze page for each of your lead magnet.
While it’s good to have popups here and there as well as embed forms below your posts, having a page dedicated to seducing your readers to joining your list is important and way more effective. These pages usually convert way higher than your other forms.
A good squeeze page tells a story, identifies a problem and suggests a proven solution which can be accessed by entering their email addresses. If you have other freebies as well, you need to create separate squeeze pages for each of them.
Squeeze pages should have short URL for easy sharing. For instance, if you have a free lead market on 89 Ways to Get More Traffic in 2019, a simple URL like bneur.com/traffic should do. Short urls, especially one word extensions are effective for sharing on audio interviews as people can easily remember and access your website
13. Craft Powerful Headlines for Your Freebies.
A simple signup form is all it takes to convince someone to join your list. This embedded feature is composed of nothing more than a headline, a visual, description and the form itself which usually comprises of First Name, email address and a Submit button.
The main selling point is thus your headline. Here lies your selling proposition. Every word that goes into your headline is critical. It’s the make or break of your list building strategies.
Revisiting the resource suggested above, 89 Ways to Get More Traffic in 2019, we can tell this is a compelling selling point for bloggers looking to grow their blogs traffic. The figure 89, proves a sense of length and usefulness, while the year 2019, brings the sense of relevancy. We can make it better by introducing another power word such as Proven, Working, Genuine, etc.
What about the following?
89 Proven Ways to Grow Your Blog in 2019. Learn How I Got 341,677 unique visits last month.
14. Manual Signup-Sheets at Events
Attend an event in your area that is relevant to your industry. You might need to have four or five ambassadors to help you in your brand awareness strategy. Most events have exhibitions, so you might need to book a tent. With a good event and a great networking strategy that is properly implemented, you will be able to have at least 500 contacts at the end of the day. These actually qualify as leads as they took time to listen to what your business is all about before consenting to receiving notifications, hence possibility of a higher conversion rate.
You can also organize monthly or semi-annual events in your area. This way you will be able to earn money from tickets as well as have a pool of potential customers in your attendance list. Events also help boost your local brand and enhance your credibility in your industry.
15. Grant access to your Pinterest Board
Pinterest Group Boards are great opt-in offers that you can use to help build your email list.
A great way to go about this is to build a great group board on a particular niche, a niche that is narrow but broad enough to accommodate the readers of your blog. On this website, we run Online Business Ideas, a group that suits everyone from freelancers, designers, coaches to online entrepreneurs.
The next step is to create a dedicated landing page about your board, rules to be followed if any and the types of pins to be pinned. Then you embed a signup/join now button that prompts the reader to enter their email addresses and a link of their Pinterest accounts. By submitting their info to join your board, they consent to receive info from your blog with unsubscribe options. This is a disclaimer you need to include on the landing page or the signup form.
You will then need to manually add them to your board as it deems fit. You may want to tag people who sign up through this landing page or form with appropriate tag such as [Pinterest +name of the board], for easier segmentation. A good email service provider such as ConvertKit makes it easier to do so.
16. Grant People Access to Your Private Facebook Group.
This works like Pinterest Group Boards above. People want to be part of Facebook groups ran by experts as they are usually well managed and jam-packed full of helpful content and sharing. So they wouldn’t mind opting in to be added
17. Organize a Giveaway
Giveaways are great with quantity rather than quality. However, if done correctly, you can benefit from both the quantity as well as the quality.
The main success of a giveaway lies with the worthiness and relevancy of the prizes. Some of the prizes you can giveaway include your premium eBooks, premium courses, coupons and discounts, apparels, software, money etc.
To run these giveaways successfully, you need to use a service like Kingsumo Giveaways which helps you track shares and award points accordingly.
18. Blog consistently.
This works in building your email list in two ways. First, the more you blog, the more visitors you attract, the credible your site gets, the more loyalty and trusts it earns and consequentially the higher conversions rates. Secondly, blogging consistently means you are always churning out better content that your readers won’t want to miss, hence an incentive in itself so join your emailing list.
Have an editorial calendar and stick to it. Having blog posts written and planned out in advance is a great way to never lack behind. Most bloggers are always three or more months ahead in their content plans. You want to join the ride.
19. Leverage the power of testimonials in your op-tin pages and forms.
Think this way:
You just visited a website which you’ve never heard before. The site is about the topics you curious about and the first blog post you read wowed you. You want to learn more from this blogger but is she worthy of a space in your already populated and messy Gmail inbox? Well, she is not Seth Godin, so you don’t have a direct answer to that. But then, somewhere on the website, you see a great testimonial about this blogger from Seth Godin and immediately you are convinced that the giveaway that this blogger is giving is actually worth it, and so you opt in.
Well, you might not get a testimonial from Seth anytime soon, but a great testimonial from your subscriber is equally good. A great testimonial is honest and useful. It outlines a pain point and how the site or freebie helped the person achieve the particular result.
Sales are made on social media, because that’s where people hang around on. If you publish a new book today, you would want everyone on Facebook to know. That’s the excitement you should have with your new lead magnet.
Share your lead magnet on Facebook pages and groups as well as Pinterest. Create social media specific graphics for your freebie using tools like Canva and PicMonkey. If you have your own established Facebook group, you may want to build anticipation beforehand, by telling members that you are working on your free 7 days course on how to go about xyz, or a book on abc, or a checklist for…. Then on the day of launching make the big announcement and you’ll see increase in downloads.
21. Promote Your Lead magnet with Facebook Ads.
We all like to cut down our costs, but sometimes spending a little can mean tremendous results. Facebook ads are worth it in the long run. You want to start with a smaller budget and keep experimenting until you find Facebook ads strategy that works for you. For Facebook ads to work well, you need to have captivating headline, a striking visual and a promising landing page that is short and to the point. You want also to target people that are interested in your topic
22. Optimize your About Us Page
This is one of your most visited pages on your website. Since someone is visiting your About page, it’s safe to assume that they already like your brand and they are interested in knowing more about you, who you are and what you do. There are similarities that you share, otherwise they wouldn’t be bothered at all. Giving them a way to optin at this very point is critical.
Melyssa does this with a subtle touch:
23. Leverage Your Competitors Best Conversion Tools
You have to stay relevant and productive. By using better tools, your competitors have a competitive hedge. Good news is, you can actually inspect which tools they are using with the Inspect Element.
If that sounds tech complicated for you, a tool like BuiltWith can come handy. You only need to insert the URL of the site you want to inspect and this program will list all the tools that the site is built with. You can then see which ones aid them in conversion and see if they are worth acquiring them for your website
24. Have a Strategic Landing Page Funnel
The Idea behind Landing Page Funnel (LPF) is to ensure that your website visitors get to visit your most optimized pages (squeeze pages) for conversion. These are pages of your website that have freebies and have proven to convert at higher rates than other pages.
The easiest way to get eyeballs on your most converting page is by featuring it on your homepage and adding a button that links to it on your primary menu. This is one of the secrets that has helped Backlinko build a list of over 140,000 subscribers.
25. Optimize Your Confirmation Email
If you use double-optin (recommended), you will notice that you will have quite a number of email addresses in your unconfirmed section. Well that happens because life happens. However, by optimizing your confirmation email you can reduce that number substantially.
You want to personalize your headline if possible. A headline like “Tasha, Welcome to Your 7 Days Blogging Course” will have higher open rates than, “Blogging 101”
Your confirmation button should be bold and centrally located, well above the fold. If your confirmation email is long, you can consider adding another confirmation link towards the end of your email.
One strategy that works really well is making the download link of your freebie in your email act as a confirmation link. Your subscribers will see something like:
Thanks so much for joining our Bneur community, where small ideas become big companies. As I promised, your free 37 List SEO checklist is ready for download.
Wanting to know me more? Don’t worry, tomorrow I’ll send you everything I did to turn my tiny idea into a blossoming online business and how you too can.
26. Design Your Website to Convert
Every creative needs an empire to inspire. Email lists give you a way to directly communicate with your readers. Your fans. Your website’s main goal should thus be to convert your readers into subscribers. A good web design does that. To achieve that, a few tweaks are necessary:
- Have a prominent call to action on the homepage with a relevant highly converting optin
- Strategically organize your primary navigation, adding a button that leads to your freebie
- Placing a subscription form at the top of your sidebar, making it prominent
- Making the overall design of your website friendly, mobile optimized and using readable font types and sizes.
27. Make Your Landing Pages Highly Converting.
It’s one thing to create squeeze page, and it’s another making that page serve its purpose. Creating a highly converting landing page is an art, something that takes time to be mastered. It comprises both skillful design and copywriting prowess.
A highly converting landing page comprises of a primary headline, a tagline(sub heading), a description, bulleted benefits of the freebie, a 3D representative visual of your lead magnet, form fields (first name and email address), a call to action (CTA) social proof (testimonials) and a headshot and short description about you.
Whoa! This is perhaps the longest blog post I’ve written in years. Building an email list from scratch is quite a demanding task, but good news is that it’s doable and you can do it.
Let me know what are your thoughts about these tips on how to build an email list, and if you have your favorite ways that I didn’t mention here in the comments section below
Victor is a content strategist and specializes in SEO, Email marketing, long form and data-driven contents. He loves seeing people win and helps small online businesses to create contents that convert. He is the founder and content strategist here at The Penny Matters.