If you’re like most small business owners, you started your website to share information, drive sales and engage with your customers. But what use is a website if no one visits it or if they visit once or twice and never come back? How can you stay top of mind and entice people to return? The answers include social media, search, digital ads, and one of the most tried-and-tested options – starting an email list.
Why is starting an email list so important?
If you’re time-strapped and on a tight budget, you may say you don’t have the hours and the money to put into running an email list. But running an email list is one way to turn your website into a real asset for your business. It’s a means to get new leads, convert sales, and inspire customer engagement and loyalty. All kinds of good things may happen as your traffic numbers grow.
For just a few cents per message, you can send awesome email campaigns that drive people back to your site. Even if they don’t click through to your site, sending amazing emails gives you a captive audience waiting to hear about the products and services you think they should buy.
Let’s break these numbers down so you can find out just how affordable this email game really is. For less than R84 a month on a current promotion, the GoDaddy Email Marketing Starter plan enables you to send emails to 500 people. That’s just 17 cents per person – much less than printing and posting flyers.
A solid email marketing solution makes it simple to send out your latest news to your VIPs. The GoDaddy offering includes easy-to-use templates that you can copy and paste your words into, along with tools that make your emails slick and reader-friendly.
Sign-up forms and automated unsubscribe handling give you more time to focus on creating great email content. And good email solutions have analytical tools that let you know who is reading your words of wisdom.
Once you’ve got your handy new email marketing software set up, it’s time to start getting people to sign up. Starting an email list is your direct line of communication to readers. It’s also the fastest path to making your ideal readers your most loyal fans.
How to get people to join your email list
Here’s how you do NOT get people on your list: buy a mailing list from a data services company. It’s more than bad manners to solicit people who didn’t ask to receive your emails. It’s unethical and contravenes the law in many countries. Plus, using anonymous lists could get you flagged as a spammer and barred from using most email marketing services.
Make email sign-up simple
You want to create a list of people who actually agree to be on your list. The best way to get them to agree is to make it easy. Include a big sign-up button on your blog and homepage.
Most good email marketing programs also enable you to add a sign-up form to your Facebook page. Use all your social profiles to let your fans know you’ve got an email list and they need to be on it.
The next best way to get people to sign up? Everybody likes a gift, in this case called an opt-in incentive. To request a freebie like a cool piece of content or a discount voucher, you ask people to agree to receive emails from you.
Now, if you’re just starting out and have limited funds, this idea for starting an email list might be a little out of your budget. However, it is something you should consider for the future because with ads on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube you can target the exact audience you are looking for.
Advertising on these three platforms allows you to aim your ads directly at your ideal customer. You can get incredibly specific. For example, one ad could be for a mother in Mossel Bay who has a love for knitting. Another could be an ad to a bachelor in Brakpan who has an interest in acrylic painting.
Once they join, how do you keep them?
Aside from the people who get the freebie and leave, some of the things you need to ensure you keep people on your list include (but are not limited to):
Eye-catching subject lines
Most people’s inboxes are crowded. With all that competition for attention, your emails need to have subject lines that jump out and entice the viewer to click and view. In fact, boring subject lines could land your emails in the junk folder. Some email providers filter consistently unopened emails from the same sender to the spam box.
Content that matters to your fans
If your subscribers stop caring about what you’re writing, you’ve lost them. If they signed up to receive content about desserts, and you start sending them emails about chicken, that might feel like a bait-and-switch.
Let your subscribers know you think they’re special by giving them exclusive freebies like e-books, webinars, audio seminars or reports. What better way to keep loyal fans happy than to give them things that the common website visitor can’t get? People like to feel as though they are VIP, so treat them as such.
Don’t email them every day!
Emailing your subscribers more than once a week is probably too much. Instead, create one newsletter that gives a weekly recap of everything they may have missed. If you fear you are sending too many or too few emails, conduct a survey with your subscribers to get their input.
Starting an email list might take a little time and effort, but it’s worth it if you’re serious about your business. When you start to gain loyal fans who want to receive your emails because your content adds value to their lives, well, that’s an exciting thing indeed.