How to Start & Grow Your E-Mail List

Building your email list is key when you are trying to find a new crop of prospects and customers online. It’s also an essential component in multiplying your business.

In fact, almost all of your online marketing activities should involve, at some point in time, cultivating a well targeted email list. Here are five things you’ll want to think about when you’re ready to start building your list.

You’ll Need an Good ESP
At the heart of any good email list is a good email service provider {or ESP}. This is critical for growing and maintaining a list and absolutely necessary for automating the process. The great thing about most ESPs is that they are very affordable and in most cases free in the beginning.

My ESP of choice is MailChimp. You can start-off with a free account {for up to 2,000 subscribers} and send up to 12,000 emails per month. Other ESPs offer similar plans but what you want to look for is whether or not they offer what is often referred to as an “auto responder”. This allows you to automate your sign-up process, so you don’t have to do everything manually.

I run another blog and I have had people sign-up for my email list in the wee hours of the morning, because they live in another time-zone or country. If you have an auto responder, it takes care of your new subscribers for you automatically. You can have people sign up for your list 24/7 – “hands free”.

You also want to make sure that your ESP has a mobile friendly app that will allow you to add subscribers when you are networking offline as well.

Make an Offer They Can’t Refuse
In the early days of the web, people would sign-up for just about anything. I remember when I got my first email account in the mid 90s {it was with Hotmail} and I would sign-up for anything just so I could receive an email.

Nowadays people have multiple email accounts and shy away from signing-up for too many things, for fear of being spammed to death or unintentionally “opting-in” to an email list when they buy something online.

So how can you convince them to sign up for your list? You need to offer your visitors something they can’t refuse. This goes back to a key principal of marketing online. You really need to know your audience. You want to create an offer just for them – not just for anyone who comes along.

Creating an opt-in offer takes work and should solve a problem that your target audience has. Notice the emphasis on “target” audience – why? Because “the money is in the list”. Those visitors who sign up to hear from you is the first step in bringing them into your sales funnel. They have gone from being just visitors to prospects.

Proximity is Key
From a technical standpoint, you want to give your visitors, more than one opportunity to sign-up for your list on your site. Make sure the “opt-in” box or form is easy to find. You also want to generate more than one “form” through your ESP so you can track which one is getting the most sign-ups for you.

I would suggest you have one near or in your navigation. You can have one at the very top of the page using a free online app like Hello Bar. It’s also a good idea to have one at the end of each post or a separate page that focuses on nothing but the value of your opt-in and encourages visitors to sign-up.

These are often referred to as “landing pages”. Their sole purpose is to help promote a specific product or service usually by asking visitors to sign up for their list. These landing pages are a great tool for building your list.

Build Your Relationships First

Don’t forget social media. It’s a great way to drive or lead traffic back to your website or landing pages to encourage people to sign up for your list. You want to be careful when you do this.

There is a great analogy where someone said, constantly pitching your services or products on social media is like someone going to a cocktail party in someone’s home and doing nothing but passing flyers around about their business without even bothering to say hello.

No one wants to see a litany of “sales pitches” asking people to “sign up for their list”, like some desperate used car salesman. Remember social media is just that – it’s social, take your time and build your relationships first.

Many online marketing experts suggest that you follow a steadfast rule of a 4 to 1 ratio when “sharing and engaging in social media activities”. They suggest that you share or engage in at least, 4 times as much content from your followers before you ask your followers to do something for you.

That means for every piece of content you share about your business, you should share or engage in at least 4 pieces of content from someone else. Some marketing experts, like Michael Hyatt for one, take it a step further and say it should be a 20 to 1 ratio if you are brand new and have no following.

Don’t Forget to Collect Names Online and Off
You can also build your list with networking and offline events. If you are conducting a workshop or seminar, set-up a landing page with an online app like Lead Pages and create a free offer that your prospects have to sign-up for online in order to receive it. It can be a downloadable PDF or you can record a webinar and promote it both online and off to build your list.

These are just a handful of ideas that you can use to build your list. There are others such as article marketing and guest blogging. But in order to avoid being overwhelmed, you may want to implement only one or two of these at a time, until they are a regular part of your list building and marketing routines. Then add more.

Like what you see? Then join the conversation!
Share your comments or questions about building your email list below and I will do my best to answer them. If you like this post, please “like” it on Facebook or share it with your friends on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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