As social media platforms continue to grow and change, we’re all finding it more difficult to stay current, grow our following, and reach more people. Between Facebook groups, Instagram pods, and Twitter chats, we’re all trying to work within the confines of the platforms’ changing algorithms to increase our followers and build an engaged following. But as these platforms change at a rapid pace, one marketing method remains consistent: email marketing.
If you read about business strategies or listen to business advice (which I’m sure you do because, well, you’re here aren’t you?), you’ve probably noticed the increased emphasis on building an email list. I meet many people who have huge followings on their website or on social media, but have neglected to build an email list. You may be thinking, “Well, if I have a large following on these social media platforms, why is an email list necessary?” But the answer is simple.
You own your email list and you can control it.
If Zuckerberg decides to shut down Facebook tomorrow or Twitter decides to revoke your account for whatever reason, those followers are gone. Your social media followers are leased, not owned. On the other hand, you own your email list. If Mailchimp or Madmimi decide to close their doors, you will still have the list of emails you built over the years. Those followers are yours.
You also have limited control over what your social media followers see. Tweets go by in a flash, Facebook posts get buried in the news feeds, and Snaps disappear after 24 hours. But if you send an email, it’s guaranteed to land in the recipient’s inbox. Period. You’re not relying on your followers being online at the right time or that a platform likes your content enough to serve it up to people. You send an email, it reaches them.
A fellow small business owner once told me, “Social media followers will engage with you, but your email subscribers will pay the bills.” I’ve found that to be true. I have a combined social media following of about 5,000 people, which is more than double my newsletter subscribers. And yet, I receive more referrals and new client leads—and generate more business–from my email list than from my social media following.
At this point, you may be thinking, “Great! I don’t need to be on social media! Hallelujah!” But that’s not entirely true. As you learned in the 7 Steps to Launching Your Personal Brand blog posts, social media is crucial for engagement, SEO, and discoverability. It’s also important to actually building your newsletter list. People are more likely to stumble upon you and your business via social media rather than through Google and other search engines. They’re also less likely to sign up for your newsletter if they aren’t already familiar with you and your business. Social media attracts a new audience and gives you the opportunity to “warm them up,” but then it’s up to you to convert those people into your newsletter subscribers. And once those people are on your email list, it’s a lot easier to convert them into customers.
Now that you understand the importance of building an email list, the next question to answer is, how? Building a quality list takes time and strategy, despite what some webinars and e-courses may promise. It’s not enough to get people signed up, you need to get the right people signed up.
There are dozens of ways to attract new subscribers, and some of them are more time consuming and labor intensive than others. But here are three easy things you can to today and all of them will take you less than an hour:
Add sign-up forms everywhere.
The most important way to build your email list is to make it as easy as possible for people to sign up. Add a big sign-up form to the homepage of your website. You can also include a newsletter sign up icon, usually an envelope, to your row of social media icons. Most email marketing programs allow Facebook integrations, so you can add a sign-up form to your Facebook page. Include a link to your sign-up form in your email signature. If you have an e-book, add it to the back matter. Add it to your business cards, promotional materials, anything that you’re distributing to your audience. Put the form in enough places, and you’ll start to see your list grow without you doing anything else.
Add a pop-up form to your website or blog.
I know, I know, none of us really like those intrusive pop-up forms. But there’s a reason most websites have them–they work. We see 5-10 new subscribers a week just from our pop-up form. And if you set it up so the form comes up after the user has been on your page for a few seconds and only comes up every three visits, it won’t feel as intrusive.
Create an incentive for people to sign up.
How many of us have given over our email to receive free shipping on a discount on our next order? Good content isn’t always enough incentive for people to hand over their email address; you usually need something more. Here, we offer the free branding worksheet. Our authors offer free e-books or excerpts from their upcoming titles. I’ve signed up for many newsletters to get a free template or to have access to a private Facebook group. In your email marketing program, set up a welcome email that automatically sends the content when someone signs up for your list. Give someone something, they’re more likely to give you something in return.
The best thing about these tactics is that once you set them up, there’s nothing else you have to do. You don’t have to actively promote, monitor, or manage. The sign-up links, pop-up forms, and free content allow you to passively build your list so you can get back to running your business.
However, it will be a slower burn. You may be seeing a dozen new subscribers a week, but you won’t be growing your list by the hundreds. Doing that requires a bit more work. For those of you ready to take a deeper dive, I highly recommend Melyssa Griffin’s List Surge course. Since implementing the tactics outlined in her course, our email list and open rate have grown exponentially. Like the Branding Outside the Box e-courses, List Surge is self-guided and has a 60-day money back guarantee. What have you got to lose?
Have you implemented these techniques? Taken the e-course? Tried other things to build your email list? I’d love to hear from you! Share your triumphs, trials, and missteps in the comments section.