How to Start and Grow Your Email List
I’m going to get straight to the point here: you need to establish an email list as early on in your blog or business as possible. Even if you’re a social media influencer without a website, creating an email list can still be beneficial. I started my email marketing system so late in the game with my first business, and that’s something I wish I would’ve had in place right from the get go. A lot of people roll their eyes at this piece of advice, but you’ve got to start getting people on your list — even if you haven’t officially launched your brand yet.
Why? Simple: you do not own your social media. If your account is hacked or a glitch happens, you can lose everything, easily. In addition to that, with the way the algorithm works, your content is not always being seen by your followers. You want to have a quick, convenient way to get directly in front of your target audience at any given moment, and e-mail marketing is the best way to do that.
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Step One: Choose Your Platform
In the beginning I used MailChimp for my email marketing, but switched over to ConvertKit as I found it was much more organized and user-friendly; now, nine times out of ten I always recommend starting with ConvertKit. You can sign up here for a free 14-day trial to start, and then choose a plan according to your preferences (and budget), when it’s time to upgrade. If you want to find out if ConvertKit is right for you, this article is super helpful and can help you decide if it will meet your needs.
Step Two: Create an Opt-In Form or Landing Page
An opt-in form or a landing page is where your future subscribers will enter their name and email address to subscribe to your list. How you create your opt-in form or landing page will vary depending on your e-mail marketing platform. However, there’s more to just creating a pop-up or embedding a form on your website that says “Subscribe to the Newsletter,” which we’ll get into shortly.
If you want to see how to do this in ConvertKit you can watch the tutorial below. If you are using MailChimp, I have a previous tutorial I recorded that you can view here too.
Step Three: Create + Offer an Incentive
When you are first establishing your email list, you will want to provide your future subscribers with a reason to give you access to their inbox. This goes beyond the generic ‘subscribe to my newsletter’ box that many people tend to embed on their site.
This happens by offering some sort of incentive in exchange for their email address that you will collect via your opt-in form or landing page. Think about what influences you to hand over your email address — is it a discount? Free shipping? A free ebook or PDF? What is it?
For example: The incentive I’m offering you here is a free cheat sheet to help you start and grow your email list that you can download below. The opt-in form is where you enter your email address to get access to the freebie. A stand-alone opt in page might look something like this, and can be created even if you don’t have a full website just yet, but want to start collecting subscribers. A stand-alone opt-in page can be created within your email marketing provider, who will then supply you with a unique link to share with your customers, clients or readers. If you do have a website and want to create a landing page within your site, that’s an option as well.
Your incentive may vary depending on what type of blog or business you have. It may come in the form of discount codes, free shipping, e-books, worksheets, checklists, exclusive access to a subscribers-only membership portal, etc. If you do some digging around Pinterest or Google, you can find a long list of suggestions for possible incentives that make sense for your niche or industry. Just keep in mind that most of the time, your customers aren’t just going to give you their address without knowing they’ll get something in return. Take some time and really think about what you will offer them, and don’t be afraid to create multiple forms or landing pages for each new offer you create.
Step Four: Promote + Grow
Once you’ve chosen your email marketing provider, set up your opt-in form or landing page, and created your offer, you have to start getting people on your list! Similar to growing your website traffic, you have to do some leg work, especially in the beginning, to start gaining subscribers.
This is where Pinterest can really come in handy. If you’re familiar with my blog, you know I talk a lot about Pinterest. It’s a fantastic tool for increasing your website traffic and is incredibly effective for growing your email list, too. You can create pins to direct users to your website or landing page so they can take advantage of your offer and opt-in to your list. It sounds simple, but there is a strategy behind using Pinterest to increase your traffic and grow your email list. You can sign up for my free five-day workshop here that teaches you some of the basic principles of using Pinterest effectively, or you can check out my in-depth course on Pinterest that teaches you everything you need to know.
In addition to utilizing Pinterest to promote your offers, you should also be sharing your incentives on social media. Talk about it on your feed and in your stories — link to your offer in your bio, connect with other members in Facebook groups and let them know you have a special freebie or discount to share (if and when appropriate, of course). Don’t be afraid to talk about your offer(s) wherever you get in touch with your audience.
I try to create an offer with every blog post I publish. I know it sounds like a lot of work — and it is — but if you want to really grow your list it’s important to offer multiple incentives. Again, think about what you can offer your audience and provide them with an opportunity to opt-in with each piece of content you create. If you’re a business owner this might be a little different for you, but you can always supplement your website with blog content or educational articles about the products or services you sell and create your offers to align with that content.
Step Five: Nurture Your List Consistently
Once you start gaining subscribers, you want to make sure you show up for them and give them a reason to stick around. Whether you show up in their inbox once a week, twice a month, once a month, or once every quarter is entirely up to you — just remain consistent.
You also want to make sure you’re providing your subscribers with something of value when you send out your email broadcasts. Talk about your new blog post, educate them, ask them to fill out a survey to learn more about them, tell a story they can connect with, and always, always, always serve more than you sell. They signed up to hear from you, so make sure you’re showing up!
Whether you have a website or not, you need to make your email list a top priority. It’s never too soon to start building and growing your list, but it’s also not too late to get the ball rolling if you don’t have one just yet. Just make sure you first choose your email marketing platform, create your opt-in form(s) or landing page(s), come up with your offer or incentive, promote your offer(s), and nurture your list on a consistent basis.
Do you have an email list? What do you offer your potential subscribers?