List building and email marketing can feel like an overwhelming endeavor if you’re just starting out. You may want to put it off until you see some substantial online success, but the reality is, this is a task that needs to be done as early as possible.
Building a list and being able to communicate with your target audience not only allows you to tap into the needs and wants of your niche demographic, but it shortcuts the monetization process.
You don’t have to wait until they happen upon your site again – you can reach out and promote products regularly while showing value to them as a niche leader. The quality of what you share can be heightened and this makes them more loyal to you as consumers.
Your list is going to serve as one of your greatest assets as an online entrepreneur. But you need to start the process now and continue growing it into something substantial. Getting permission from a subscriber to contact them directly is a privilege that you want to treat respectively, and that starts with your lead magnet and follows through in your emails.
Setting Up Your List Building System
Before you can start building a list, you have to have the right systems in place. This begins with choosing the right email marketing platform. There are so many options available, and everyone will have an opinion on what’s best.
You may see advice from someone who engaged in nefarious practices and got banned from one platform who is them bashing it as an unreliable source. The reality may be that as long as you abide by ethical standards, it could be a great system for you to use.
But there are other factors that you may want to consider when choosing an email marketing system to build your list with and be able to communicate from. It’s not always just about cost, but that is a determining factor for many people.
Luckily, with cost, most of the reliable email marketing systems have a free version that you can use up to 500 subscribers before you have to begin paying. That means you can reinvest your earnings into being able to pay for the premium level once you achieve that number of subscribers.
In addition to costs, you want something that has the features and usability that you need, depending on where you are in your online marketing journey. If you are a newbie, then an easy dashboard and interface will be imperative for you to get started.
Regardless of whether you are new or a seasoned marketing expert, you want features such as split testing capabilities, built in data analytics, and automation that can help you save time and improve your conversions.
You also want to make sure that the system you choose has a stellar reputation for deliverability. Some vendors who create autoresponder systems allow their users to spam people, and their tool inevitably gets blocked from being able to access people’s inboxes.
You want to go with something that has a long term reputation of landing in the inbox rather than a spam folder. You also want to select an autoresponder that has a good knowledge bank with tutorials and answers to common questions as well as a 24 hour customer support team that can help you when you need it.
If you plan on connecting your autoresponder system with different platforms, you want to check to see if that’s going to work for you, depending on what you want to use. That may be a social media network or a vendor platform.
There are several autoresponder systems that have a good reputation for creating a list and being able to management. These include AWeber, GetResponse, and MailChimp – but do your research before signing up to anything.
You don’t want to have to move your list (exporting and then importing it) too many times, if at all. It’s better to make a smart choice from the very beginning. Once you have a selection made, you’ll want to set up your list on the platform of your choice.
If you’re using a free version, you might be limited to just a single list. But if not, you might have different segments so that you can tailor the messages to those unique demographics.
You want to create your list first and then a form that people can sign up on to join as a subscriber. Many autoresponder systems have built in landing page and form templates for you to use, and you can customize them to match your site and say exactly what you want on the form itself.
One lats thing to remember about the creation of your form: limit the number of fields you have to one or two. You can either capture their email address or their first name and email address.
If you start asking for too much information, it repels people. By getting their first name, it will allow you to personalize your emails whenever you send one out. But don’t ask for their address, phone number and other information.
Developing Irresistible Lead Magnets
The next step in your list building and email marketing process is to develop one or more lead magnets that you can use to entice new subscribers onto your list. It’s up to you as to whether or not you want to have a single lead magnet to offer your entire demographic audience or have different ones that appeal to different subsets within your overall target audience.
For example, if you are in the weight loss niche, you could have one lead magnet that offered 101 tips to lose weight. But if you wanted to, you could also have different landing pages set up with different lead magnets so that you could attract an audience for keto dieting, calorie deficits, intermittent fasting dieters, and more.
If you want to stick with a single lead magnet and landing page, you might split test the options and see which one performs better overall for your niche audience. You might be able to tweak the title or graphics representing it and have it convert better for you.
Your ultimate goal is to create something so valuable that people feel it is worth it to take the risk in handing over their name and email address in exchange for access to your free gift.
It’s also an opportunity for you to make a good first impression. You can showcase your authority within the niche and your knowledge or unique insights that may set you apart from other competitors.
The lead magnet can be in whatever format you choose. Most people use a form of short report or eBook, which is text-based. But if you feel more comfortable using video, you can always use that media format to create your lead magnet.
Some people also offer a hybrid approach, where they provide options or even a download that includes both access to an eBook and a set of video modules. Your lead magnet can be other formats, too.
For example, you might host a webinar online and you can record it and use that as a free gift for people to download and watch after the fact. Or, you might have access to a private case study for a process that you went through that shows people your results and how you achieved them.
Other free gifts you can consider might include things like cheat sheets and checklists, templates, printables, quizzes or surveys, or even free trials of your products if you sell software, a membership program, etc.
You want to make sure that the lead magnet has enough value in it that they would be willing to pay for it if it was for sale. You can’t get away with offering too little because many people are very protective of their contact information and wary of online spammers.
If you can create a lead magnet that addresses a specific pain point for your audience, and help them achieve their goals with a solution and insight, that’s going to be enough to tip the scales in your favor and get them to opt into your list.
Set Up a Landing Page to Capture Subscriber Information
Once you’ve selected your autoresponder system and have a lead magnet ready, you can set up a landing page. This is the page you’ll be driving all of your traffic to, so it’s important that it loads quickly and contains high-converting copy.
The landing page has a few elements on it including the headline, bulletpoint benefits, a call to action, the graphic representation of the product, and the opt in form. You don’t want too much else because it becomes a distraction for why you invited them there in the first place – to fill out the form.
Everything needs to be above the fold. Don’t make them scroll to see more information or the form itself. Many email autoresponder systems have templates you can use for landing page designs.
Or, if you’re using a page builder, they will have special pages meant for list building, so you can specify that. You may also want to include a very short video to create a hybrid landing page.
If you’re not familiar with copywriting, you’ll want to spend some time working on that as well as looking at swipe files for effective headlines and bulletpoint lists. These need to be benefit-driven to convince them to download your free gift.
If you have room to include any additional copy, make sure it’s persuasive, short-form copy with a strong call to action statement that makes them not want to miss out on the opportunity.
You might also have room for some social proof that instills a sense of confidence and trust in you. This would be a testimonial that is genuine from another niche expert or form a subscriber.
Just as you can split test your lead magnets, you can do the same with your landing pages (and even the forms for that matter). You might find that more people opt in when you just ask for their email address or that one tweak to your landing page copy results in much better conversions. You do want to make sure it works on mobile gadgets and on all browsers, too.
Organic and Paid Methods to Grow Your List
Now that everything is technically set up, it’s time for you to begin sending traffic to your landing page so that you can get people on your list and start marketing to them via email.
There are different ways you can go about this. Many people prefer to start with organic traffic methods that don’t cost them anything, or very little. But you also have the option to utilize paid traffic methods if you want to boost your list numbers quickly.
The organic methods rely on a system of content marketing through the use of your blog and social media platforms as well as community sites like forums. There are also strategies you can use where you are leveraging other niche experts, such as guest blogging with a link in the byline that points back to your lead magnet landing page.
The most important thing in using an organic strategy for your list building purposes is to create content that is going to be elevated in the search engine results pages (SERPs). This is going to ensure that it ranks high because you have paid attention to SEO (search engine optimization) elements.
This is not only a technical strategy that you have to use, but one where the user experience is high. Google is not just looking for someone who knows how to insert keywords into their content, but someone who can create such amazing content that people don’t feel the need to click out and go elsewhere to find what they want.
Start by learning how to create pillar blog posts that are comprehensive and cover a topic in depth. These are not short form posts, but instead they serve as valuable resources that people will be happy to find in search engines or on someone else’s site when you have been given a backlink because of the value it contains.
You still want to know how to implement all of the technical SEO factors. For example, you want to optimize each post for a specific keyword phrase and utilize semantic keywords within the content for increased visibility.
You have to know about both on page and off page SEO so that you have a well-rounded approach to optimizing your content for search engines. And you need to be consistent because the search box will come crawling your site to see if you have a reliable domain they can send users to or if you tend to go missing on a regular basis.
Social media platforms are a great resource for sending organic traffic to your lead magnet landing page. You’ll have to do some research to see where your audience primarily hangs out.
You can look on each platform to see if your niche is being discussed. Some of the most popular ones include Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, and Instagram to name a few.
You’ll want to spend some time seeing what the target audience on each of these platforms likes to see in terms of the slants and styles of content. You also want to pay attention to any media formats that are being used as well as hashtags that help with the discoverability of content.
Consistency is just as important on social media as it is on your blog. Your followers will crave regular, ongoing content from you and you can put a link in each piece that you publish that directs them to your landing page – or, if the site or platform only allows one link, you can put that in your profile’s bio.
Community sites like forums or Q&A sites like Quora are also good resources to use to link back to your lead magnet landing page and generate free traffic. You can look up specific forums by using your niche topic and the word forum on Google.
Sometimes, these forms will allow you to have a signature file with a live hyperlink in it. You can link this to your landing page and whenever you create a new thread or participate with a comment in someone else’s thread, it will show up directly beneath your post.
If the forum doesn’t allow a signature file, you can still participate and share great value and have a link to your landing page in your profile’s bio area. If you’re joining someone else’s community (such as a Facebook group) or forum, make sure you’re not spamming the members with links to your landing page.
If you want to quickly grow your list, you can use a variety of paid traffic tactics. You can start with pay per click (PPC) advertising through platforms like Google, Bing, and other search engines.
In order to succeed here, you have to understand how paid ads work in terms of the creative you will be displaying as well as the bidding process so that you’re not spending too much money in order to get those leads onto your list.
You can also run paid ads on various social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others. Again, you need to know how the ad copy works within each platform so that you can target your audience based on things they will see in their feed and act on.
You might be able to find certain niche competitors or site owners that are in a complementary niche to yours where you can purchase ad space on the site, in places such as underneath their header or in their sidebar.
You can also look to see if there are any solo ad opportunities in your niche. This is where you pay another list owner to send out an email to their subscribers that will direct people back to your own site for a free gift or even a purchase opportunity.
Sometimes, you can connect with an individual directly who has a lot of influence on a social media platform, and that influencer can promote you to their followers in exchange for compensation.
Don’t be afraid to join in on other experiences that will help you generate traffic to your lead magnet landing page. For example, you might be invited to co-host a podcast episode or be interviewed by another niche leader for your expertise.
Don’t turn down these opportunities because it gives you the ability to verbalize your hyperlink and talk about your free gift and get more people on your list. You also might be invited to online or offline events such as webinars or in person seminars as part of an expert panel where you can promote your free gift to everyone who attends.
Planning Your Email Marketing Campaigns
Now it’s time for you to strategize what you’ll be sending out in emails to your new list of subscribers. It all starts with a value-packed welcome email. Your new list member is expecting their free gift.
So the first thing you want to do is welcome them with that download link. This reassures them that they weren’t just scammed into handing over their contact information.
You can also go above and beyond in sharing value by giving them a free, unexpected second gift. It doesn’t have to be anything like a complete course. It can be a template, checklist, tip sheet, etc.
Tell them how it works being on your list. When can they expect to hear from you again – and how often? What will you be sharing? Can they email you back if they have questions?
Then make a plan for a mix of emails that you can share. Some need to be informative and educational, sharing an immense amount of value to keep them on your list. You also want to add promotional emails to your products or those you earn money on as an affiliate.
But whatever you do promote, it needs to be quality and have value for your list members. Don’t promote anything and everything just to squeeze another dollar out of them.
Create a calendar of the topic you plan to cover in your emails. Some people do this regularly, like weekly or monthly. Others queue up evergreen emails and allow them to drip out to subscribers on a timed basis.
With your email autoresponder system, you should be able to split test your emails so that you can get the results back and use the data analytics to elevate their performance to a point where they convert better.
Test things like subject lines, use of emojis, the length of the body of the email, the style or tone of your emails, and more. You also want to make sure you’re personalizing your emails.
Do this by sharing a bit about yourself so they get to know you better – but also personalize your messages for them by coding your emails to use their first name if you captured that on the form.
Elevating Your Email Conversions to a New Level
You’re almost ready to snowball your list building and email marketing, but there’s one last step to know. You want to take what you’ve done and learn how to segment your list for even better performance.
Segmenting your list is when you place list members on certain sub-set lists so that you can tailor a message just for their needs. For example, if you have a list of online entrepreneurs, and you want to send an email out just to seniors, then you might look at everyone who had purchased a previous senior marketing course from you and segment them onto a list for an email that addresses their concerns.
However you’re segmenting (such as men versus women, buyers versus non buyers etc.), you’ll be able to get increased responses because the messaging will be relevant to them.
You can segment them based on behaviors, too. If you sent out an email and want to only send out a second one to those who didn’t open the first one, you can. Or vice versa – you can send out a second email only to the ones who opened the previous one or who clicked on a link.
In addition to segmenting, you need to periodically clean your list of unsubscribes and re-engage those who are no longer opening your emails. You can also reward long-term subscribers who are active by gifting them with freebies, discounts and other perks like access to gated content on your blog.
As a list owner, you want to pay attention to how your emails are being received, but don’t let one disgruntled person dictate how your entire email marketing process unfolds.
Let them unsubscribe, and as you clean up your list, make sure you’re conducting periodic backups of it, too. If your account is ever shut down or a technical mishap occurs, you’ll have a backup list to import again (or elsewhere) so that all of your hard work is not wasted.
Right now, you may be feeling nervous about embarking on your list building and email marketing efforts, but if you take time to be a valued leader, you’ll have no problem attracting and keeping subscribers on your list.