We live in a fast paced world of rapidly changing technologies. Just think of the rise and fall of some social networks over the past decade. Bebo, MySpace and Digg were all once mighty empires, the place the cool kids hung out online. Yet all of them crumbled into dust.
Some are even saying that [blogs have had their day]
New technology appears and disappears at the click of a finger. Maybe it’s always been that way. The survival of the fittest. We use what works best for us.
Which is why some technologies last decades, or even centuries.
The motorcar has been with us since 1886. Radio’s been around since the early 1900s. We’ve been watching TV since the 1930s.
All these technologies are still with us.
What’s the online equivalent?
Invented in 1971, and widely adopted in the early 1990s, email remains our favorite way to communitie through cyberspace.
That means if you’re a brand, business or a remarkable person with a message to share, email is your best bet.
Why email over a website?
Websites and blogs are great, and we’re not knocking them. In fact, you almost definitely need a website or blog to build an email list. But the problem with websites is they rely on your customers coming to you. Your website is easily ignored or forgotten.
Email, on the other hand, is where your customers spend time every day.
Research in 2010 found that one in five people check their email inbox first thing in the morning.
When email is your way of staying in touch, you’re in charge of when your customers connect with your brand. You’re no longer at the mercy of traffic to your website to sell your products.
Email puts you in control of your marketing.
Or, as Derek Halpern bluntly puts it:
“If you’re not building an email list, you’re an idiot.”
But how do you get people to sign up to your email list?
Here are 8 tips to get you started.
1. Get Traffic to Your Website
I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t build an email list if no one visits your website.
For people to sign up to your list, they’ve first got to walk through the door. That means generating traffic. You can do this by:
- Optimizing your site for search engines. This is called SEO, and it’s actually pretty simple.
- Using social media effectively. That includes writing tweets that people pay attention to, using awesome hashtags and being generally wonderful in your Facebook posts.
- Growing your email list! It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. The bigger your email list, the more traffic you’ll get to your site from your email subscribers.
2. Place Sign-Up Forms Everywhere
The more people who see you’ve got an email list, the more sign ups you’ll get. It’s simple math, yet so many business hide away their email sign up form in an obscure section of their website.
You’re not going to do that.
You’re going to make your sign up form TOTALLY OBVIOUS.
How so? By putting it everywhere you can think of.
Derek Halpern of Social Triggers recommends putting your sign up form in at leat the following places:
- On your homepage, beneath a short intro explaining what your business is about and how you help your customers.
- At the top of your sidebar. Collecting emails must be your top priority, and your sidebar should reflect this. Place your sign up form above everything – even ahead of ads.
- Beneath blog posts. If someone has read to the end of a post, they clearly appreciate what you have to say. Give them an opportunity to get more of your content direct to their inbox.
- On your about page. If you check your site analytics, you’ll know your about page is one of your most popular pages. Make sure any visitors know what to do next (sign up to your email list, of course).
- In a pop-up box. For some businesses, this will work a treat. For others, it will kill your conversion rate and drive people away from your site because it’s annoying. It’s worth testing to see what happens.
3. Write Awesome Emails
Imagine if you worked in construction as a bricklayer, and for each brick you laid, one you’d previously laid crumbled.
You’d get fired prompto.
Building a list is like constructing a house. You need to add brick after brick, subscriber after subscriber. If you’re losing a subscriber for each new subscriber you gain, that’s not building a list.
For your list to grow, you must keep your currenct subscribers.
To keep your current subscribers, you must write great emails.
Make sure every email you write provides value.
4. Give Stuff Away
When someone gives you their email address, they’re handing over something of high value – access to their inbox. They’re trusting you with one of their most treasured possessions, their privacy.
What are you giving back in return?
Sure, you’ll be writing great emails. But to get the deal moving, sometimes it takes a little sweetener.
That’s why so many marketers give away a free ebook or report in exchange for you signing up to their email list. It’s the convincer that gets you to sign on the dotted line.
5. Host a Webinar
Giving stuff away is great, and we’d never discourage it. But it’s become one of those tricks that everyone’s doing. And magic is no longer magic if everyone knows the secret.
There is another way, that only a few people are using.
It’s time consuming, but it can be worth your while if you’ve got time to burn and need to grow a list fast.
The secret is to host a webinar. Webinars are limited in terms of the amount of people that can turn up. They’re also one off events. Because they’re limited in this way, they’re even more attractive to your customers.
(Podcasts are also perfect for list building. There’s something about audio that creates a more intimate connection with your audience).
6. Ask Your Subscribers to Share Your Emails
Do your emails include sharing buttons? If not, then what are you waiting for?
Be sure to include options to allow your subscribers to forward your email to family and friends, and to share your email on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
7. Sign Up Your Real Life Contacts
If you’re anything like me, you probably find it all too easy to forget there’s a world out there. You don’t have to sit at your computer all day to grow your email list.
When you’re at conferences, trade shows or networking events, take an email sign up form with you. If you’re speaking, or you’ve got a stand, you can ask people to sign up to your list. If you’re just meeting people one-on-one, just ask when they give you their business card, “Would you like to be added to me email list?”
8. Connect With Influencers
This isn’t a strategy we’ve tried, but we found it over at Copyblogger, and we think it’s awesome.
To use this strategy, you ask other businesses in a similar niche who already have a list to promote your list to their subscribers.
Why would they do this? Because you offer something in return. Perhaps a free product, or one of your services at no cost.
If you don’t know anyone to connect with, then why not get started today meeting influencers on Twitter.
What do you do to build your email list? Share your best strategies in the comments.
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