Build your Email List

Disclosure: This post includes links to affiliate companies where I may earn a commission if you purchase through the link.  This comes as no additional cost to you, but this author may be paid.

Social media is awesome, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, great places to meet people, but it’s important to have them follow you off from the platform to your own.  If you’re providing value, they won’t have any problem doing that, but they have to know how.

Consider how we meet people in real life. You meet someone at the park, a meeting, the coffee shop, through mutual friends – those are the real life social platforms we use. Now you want to invite them in to your home, meet for dinner, go to the movies, that’s the equivalent of getting them to your website. You need a tool to invite them, in real life, we use a phone, on the internet, we use their email address.

It’s up to us to make it easy for someone to share their email.  Provide a place for someone to say “Call me.”  Your website should have a place for someone to subscribe to you.  They may not even know what you offer yet, but they are interested enough to say, I want what you got and provide their email.

Third Party Email Capture Plans

A third party email capture plan is necessary to comply with anti-spam laws.  It provides a secure place to store the email address, an opportunity to unsubscribe and ensures that all your mailings have the pieces needed to be sure you are in compliance.  One less thing to worry about on your journey.

Emails must be provided to you directly and with the knowledge that you intend to market to them.  Just because you have an email address does not give you permission to email them marketing materials.  They have to have the opportunity to choose.  It’s why we never send marketing directly from our company email systems, third party systems are needed to ensure people can opt out.

Never purchase or rent an email list.  Not only is it spammy, but it is against the Terms of Service for all third-party systems, it’s important to develop your own email list.  There are plenty of people who will teach you how to build your list, we’re just going to focus on mechanics first.

All third-party systems are not equal.  Some have a ton of features, many you will never need; others keep it to the basic principles of email marketing.  Let’s start with the basics and then we’ll add other features.

In its purest form, there are just a few steps needed to gather an email address, save it to a system, create a campaign newsletter and mail it.

Create an email capture.

This can be placed on your social media accounts, be used in person and be placed on your website.  There are some options here as well:

  1. Create a Pop-up Subscription button. The standard is “Subscribe to our Newsletter” – that’s been around from the beginning of email marketing. The problem is that people value their in-box, because they value their time, so the standard is slowly transforming. “I’ll give you this for free, if you share your email with me” – that adds a whole new level of complication for you, you now have to figure out how to deliver that freebie.  We’ll tackle freebies later, as part of the how to build your email list.  Right now, at least get your pop-up window open.
  2. Create a Subscribe button/link on your website. This should show up on every page, perhaps in the sidebar, perhaps in the footer.  Figure out where it fits best and make it available all the time. Sometimes when people are on our site, they haven’t yet made a decision to subscribe when the pop-up appears. Make sure you give them a second chance.

Once you have the email, decide what you are going to do with it. We already know that you are not going to sell it or rent it to someone else. This list is your audience, your fans, they’ve placed their trust in you to protect their privacy.  Sometimes, we aren’t ready to send anything to our subscribers, that’s a future plan, and while that’s alright, make sure you don’t take too long deciding so they don’t forget they have subscribed to you.  This can create a higher than normal unsubscribe rate.

Deciding what to do with your email list is entirely related to what you do with your website.

Are you a blogger?  Send out your blogs to your subscribers to be sure they see them.
Do you have products to sell?  Perhaps a sale flyer is in order.
Do you produce events?  Let them know when you’ll be back in town

Segment/tag your email subscribers.

The theory is that every person who subscribes comes to you from someplace different, or has a unique characteristic.  Can you group your people together?  This is often done with tags or segments depending on the software you are using.  Here’s some examples:

I have subscribers to my print magazine, subscriptions end at different dates, I could segment them based on when their subscription ends.

I have people who buy tickets for certain events, I could segment them based on those events so I only promote events they are likely to attend based on proximity.

Create your campaign.

This can be as simple or as complicated as you choose.  The simple says, I’m going to email everyone on my list the exact same thing.  Every email provider allows you to do this.

The complicated says, if you do this, I’m going to send you campaign A. If you do that, I’m going to send you campaign B…and all of the follow-ups.  Most providers allow you to send multiple emails in a campaign.  Some have a special landing page for the click-through so you don’t even send them to your website.  If you’ve heard the word funnel, that’s what we’re talking about here.  But it doesn’t have to be complicated, just needs to be well thought out.

There are thousands of agencies and marketing companies that want to sell you their services to manage your email campaigns, but everything they can do, you can do too.

Now that you understand why and how you use a third-party email system, your first real step is to pick a third-party company to manage your account.  Again, know your goals as you progress so you can choose one that is right for you.

Choose the right company.

Finding a company is easy, finding the one that meets your needs now and in the future might be more difficult.  We use different companies for different businesses.  That may seem counter-intuitive since it is easier to learn one and be done, but, our businesses are all in different stages of growth and have different needs.

For a new product based company, we use MailChimp.  It’s free to start, sends attractive emails, allows us to segment/tag our customer.

For a long-standing event promotion company, we use Constant Contact.  It has a higher than most, monthly fee, but it provides event management and ticket sales within its campaigns which saves another step.

For a blog tribe, we use ConvertKit.  It has exponential growth available and works well with Affiliate Marketing.

There are many more possibilities, MailerLite, AWeber, Drip, InfusionSoft, ActiveCampaign among others.  Take your time to read reviews, make sure you’re getting what you’re after, also know that you can switch when you’re ready.

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