I’ve been meaning to write a beginner-friendly blog post series for a while now, and I thought: what better topic than list building. Because there is list building, and then there is list building. I’ve done both.
Get it wrong, and it can be a constant source of a painful headache for you. You’ll find yourself endlessly googling “how to grow an email list” and such. But get it right, and you can spend the next 12 months building up a valuable and powerful asset for your business that’s going to keep your business ticking over in good times and bad.
Please note this post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure for more information.
So here’s how this is going to work. Over the next 5 posts I’m going to give you my beginner friendly guide on starting and growing an email list. However, if you have already starting building a list and don’t necessarily class yourself as a beginner, I’d like you to stick around anyway. Hopefully there will be a lot of useful tricks I’m going to share in these posts that’s going to help you supercharge your efforts. And of course, I always love hearing from my readers, so if you think I’ve missed a good tip out, drop it in the comments below.
Oh, and one last thing before we start. I’ve also put together a really cool freebie to go along with this series. Because it’s a bit of a mammoth post series and I love that my readers take the time to read through my posts (I really do; I’m not just saying that), I wanted to give you something extra-special to go along with it. So it’s a free, private membership area with a whole bunch of cool freebies I’ve put together that are going to help you build your list such as landing page templates so you can fill-in-the-blanks, content upgrade ideas, plus my optin page copy tool. The link is at the bottom of this post, or alternatively you can click through to sign up here if you are in a rush.
Here’s a very broad overview of what I’ll be covering in this 5 blog series. I’ve linked to these so you can jump ahead to the one that’s most relevant to you right now.
- Learning The Basics: How To Start An Email List On Your Brand New Blog (List Building Series 1/5)
- How To Easily Get Your Blog Readers To Sign Up To Your Email List (List Building Series 2/5)
- How To Copy The Experts And Grow Your Email List Twice As Fast (List Building Series 3/5)
- The Best Content Upgrades For Getting New Email Subscribers (List Building Series 4/5)
- The Top Traffic Sources To Grow Your Email List Quickly (List Building Series 5/5)
Do I really need an email list?
Yes, you do really need an email list. Because the purpose of that list is to sell. Now I know I’m not supposed to say that. A list is to build a relationship with your audience, right? Yes, that’s true. But if you are a business, then you are selling something. And the best way to sell that something is via email, because email is the best way to build a close, trusted relationship with your list. You can ignore me and just stick a sales page up on your website and see how you get on, but I bet you’ll be patiently waiting a long time before you get that first order through.
The truth is, if you plan on selling something, whether that’s physical products like clothes, digital products like training courses, or even affiliate products, the best way to get a high percentage of your audience to buy from you is to do that promotion via email.
From my own experience, I tend to covert about 4-6% of my site traffic to my email list. On top of that, I convert around 60% of visitors to a dedicated landing page (which is what I use on social media – we’ll come on to that in post 3). Once someone is on my list, if I run a promotion to that list I get about 1-3% of people buying from me (depending on the price point, type of promotion etc).
Now, here’s the most important point. That subscriber is still on my list. So whilst 1-3% might seem low, I can run another promotion to the same set of subscribers the month after, and the month after that. They might not buy the first or second promotion, but they might buy the third. That is far more efficient than simply promoting a sales page to people who are browsing my website and who haven’t heard of me before (and might not return).
So those are just some figures to mull over. If you have an email list, you don’t need a huge amount of traffic before you can start making your first sales.
6 Key Principles To Good List Building
There are 6 big “good list building” principles I’m going to be covering through this blog series. I want you to keep these principles in mind when you are building your own email list from scratch if you want it to be successful.
Principle #1: you need to have email sign up options in multiple places, not just a sign up form at the top of your website. That has a massive impact on your conversion rates.
Principle #2: you need a great freebie. It can’t just sound attractive (though that is very important); it has to actually wow people when they sign up for it.
Principle #3: The more time you spend crafting your copy (by that, I mean the headline you use to entice people to sign up) the more people you will get on your list. Copy is everything.
Principle #4: Know your numbers. Know how many visitors you get, how many people sign up, what percentage that is, what your landing page conversion rates are, what your open rates, click rates and sales conversion rates are for people on your list. Get used to knowing your numbers. That is what will drive you to improve what you are doing.
Principle #5: Always make list building your top priority. If you spend a lot of time working on something for your website, ask yourself how it is going to translate back to growing your email list. Growing your email list is growing your business.
Principle #6: Test everything. In particular, pay close attention to split testing. We’ll go through split testing in part 3.
How To Set Up Your Email List
Right, let’s get started. So in this post, I want to keep things simple. We’re going to be covering the basics: how to get your email list set up on your website. This post isn’t about maximising your list building efforts, getting high conversion rates, or fine tuning your offering, or anything like that. We’ll cover those things later. This is simply about getting it set up, without it feeling like a big, complicated overwhelming task that’s just sitting on Trello waiting for you to stop ignoring it.
Before you start, here’s a checklist of what you will need
An autoresponder / email platform
First things first – you need an autoresponder. This is a must-have. An autoresponder will allow you to build up your database of email contacts, and email them. There are lots of different autoresponders on the market. Choose the one best for you. Here’s a quick list of some of the big, reputable ones on the market.
An email address
Don’t use your personal address as this is the email address that your subscribers will see when you email them. The best choice is your main business email address which is typically your domain email address (i.e. lauren @ fromcorporatetocareerfreedom.com). Alternatively, creating a dedicated gmail email address is a nice, quick easy option.
A sign up form
If you want people to sign up on your website, then you will need a form on your website so they can give you – at the very minimum, their email address.
And just to bust some myths, here are some things you don’t actually need:
- A website (checkout part 3 of this blog series if you don’t have a website) Technical expertise – this guide is my easy version of setting up a list. You’ll be able to do this even if you loathe technical tasks.
3 Easy Steps To Setting Up Your Email List
Step 1: Decide what email address you’ll use.
This is easy. Just make sure it’s not your personal one.
Step 2: Sign up to an autoresponder.
My personal recommendation is GetResponse. That’s who I am with and I have a great experience them. Alternatives that other marketers rave about include Aweber, Mailchimp, and ConvertKit. So do your research, and pick your preferred option.
Choose your autoresponder, sign up and set up your account with your preferred email address. I’m not going to go through the steps of setting this up as it depends on which one you choose, but they are very user-friendly, so just follow the instructions step by step (most also have training videos to help you get started).
Step 3: Create a sign up form
You have a few options here.
The easiest option, if you really want to avoid anything technical, is using a tool called Hellobar. That will place a pop up on your website, and when you set it up in HelloBar it will be linked to your email autoresponder account.
The neatest option is to have a sign up at the top of your website, similar to what I have. This depends on what WordPress template you are using. I’m using Bluchic and it’s very easy to set this up. I create a very basic sign up form in GetResponse and then I embed that form code into the newsletter customisation option in WordPress. Bluchic has 5 minute instruction videos which are very helpful in getting this set up.
Finally, my other neat option is to have a sign up at the bottom of a blog post, like the one you will see at the bottom of this post. I have two recommendations here. First, is a wordpress plug in called Optin Forms, which is very easy to set up and very nice to look at, and the other is PopupAlly, which is the plugin I’m using below.
Now, those are the basic steps for setting up your sign up form. Once you have done that, there is nothing stopping you from building your email list.
However, I have missed out a very big, very important step (and there’s a reason for that).
That’s about the headline copy that you use to entice people to sign up. Because a good email list is about having a really tempting offer. No-one in this day and age wants to exchange their email address for a form that simply says “sign up to my email list”. They want to see something far more exciting than that.
That step is so important, it deserves a blog post all of it’s own. So that’s exactly what we are going to be covering in part 2 of this series. We will be looking specifically at designing a freebie (or bribe) that is going to tempt as many people as possible into signing up to your email list.