How to Build an Email List | Richard Takemura

How to Build an Email List

Among the many tools that a web marketer has to attract people to a website is the use of email lists. Email marketing is more effective than SEO optimization and social media in many ways because it is more targeted. It also breeds a sense of customer identity and loyalty that other forms of marketing don’t. However, you need to make sure that you go about list building in the proper manner. The tips below will help you in a successful list building venture.

Come up with a Plan and an Identity

You should consider your marketing emails to be something akin to a company newsletter or similar regular communication. This is the primary way that subscribers will hear about who you are and what you do and it can be an extremely valuable tool in converting readers into customers. Before you even begin list building, you need to make sure that you have a plan mapped out. This plan should include what you want to include in your emails, how often you want to send them out, and what customers you are specifically targeting. You should also design your email template to include your company logo and any other branding information you might need, establishing an identity early on.

Build for the Long Term

It’s important to remember that email marketing isn’t just a passing fad that will go away in a few years. When you start out list building, you need to be thinking in the long term. Select a pool of potential clients that you can expect to get lasting loyalty from. Pace your emails so you provide a little bit of tantalizing information each one, but don’t feel the need to overload each mailing with information. You are building your list as something that will be around for the foreseeable future, so you can pace out the information at an appropriate rate. Analyze exactly how much news you usually have over a given time period and then plan your emails accordingly to deliver that news when it is relevant.

Test Drive your Software before Committing

When you choose the list building software that will serve as the core of your marketing campaign, make sure that you do a thorough search through your options. It is much more difficult than many marketers believe to import contacts and lists from one product to another. If you wind up picking out a program that doesn’t suit your needs or that you regret using later, you will probably have to rebuild your entire list from scratch. This is a huge expenditure of time, which means that you are also wasting money by going through it. Most list building programs offer demos or free versions that allow you to preview the software you’ll be using. Make sure that you use these options to their fullest.

Don’t Be Afraid to Invest in Quality

The temptation to go with free list building programs or the most inexpensive version of a particular piece of software is pretty significant. Don’t give in to that temptation. If you can find a program that is inexpensive and that meets all your needs, that’s a great bonus. However, you should seek out quality first and affordability second in this case. Remember that your list building software will be the cornerstone of your marketing campaign and one of the primary ways that you generate traffic for your website. Remember also that your email marketing agenda is a long term project, so whatever you spend up front on your software is an investment that will wind up paying for itself down the road.

Provide an Easy Opt In for new Customers

Once your list building is nearly complete and you’re almost ready to launch your email campaign, you need to make sure that you get as many subscribers as possible. You can use existing lists as a base, but email addresses change and lists shrink as the years go by. You need a way to keep track of new and old customers and to encourage people to provide you with their information. You should make sure that you have a h2 landing page with a clear option to subscribe to your emails. Ideally, this subscription option should be one of the first things the customer sees, usually right at the top of the page or at the top of the side navigation frame of your blog or website.

Offer Supplemental Support

Your list building will be most effective if you can provide some sort of platform for people you contact to learn additional information. Embedding links into your emails is definitely the best way to go in this regard, although other options exist as well including social media outreach as a way of attracting conversation. Again, this infrastructure should be in place before you begin your marketing campaign. That way, when you send out those first few emails, customers will be able to get more information through your online store, your blog, or another outlet that you can use to better inform visitors. The list itself is only part of the job – a h2 infrastructure is an absolute must.

Prepare Follow up Letters

As you are list building, draft at least one email that you can use as a follow up to reach out to subscribers. This email should have no sales pitch in it. Your goal for the follow up is just to contact subscribers shortly after they join your list and inform them of what they can expect. This has a few benefits. First, you can make a personal appeal to the customer without making that person feel like you are applying immediate sales pressure. Second, the follow up can establish your tone and your brand. Third, it gives somebody who signed up in error a chance to opt out if they want. This is less than desirable, but it’s better not to annoy somebody with a lot of unwanted emails, even if they aren’t a customer.

Remember that Content is Always King

You probably know that content is more important than buzz words and search engine optimization these days, but remember to apply those same principles to your email marketing. While it is true that one of your goals should be to drive traffic to your website, store, or blog, it is also true that the best way to accomplish that goal is through good content. Don’t make your emails just a bunch of images and taglines. Instead, provide small pieces of h2 content in them with links to a place where customers can learn more about what you are offering. The goal in list building is not only to have a wide network of people you can contact, but to provide you with the means of engaging that network.

Include an Easy Response System

List building involves reaching out to a ton of potential customers, and the customers themselves usually know that they are only one recipient in a larger pool. That doesn’t mean that you need to treat a customer like just another number, though. All mailings that you send out should include an easy to find customer service link or a ‘contact us’ button that clients can use to reach out to you quickly and easily. Most importantly, these emails should be going to somebody who can provide a personalized and thoughtful response. If you add a personal touch to your interactions with customers, you are much, much more likely to breed brand loyalty and have those customers come back for more down the road.

Know your Spam Triggers

Many modern email clients have ruthless spam filters that do their best to weed out emails that are sent out to a large list of clients. You need to make sure to research new spam filtering technology as it becomes available and modify your list building process appropriately. If you aren’t careful, email that would be useful to customers will wind up in a spam folder that remains unchecked and ultimately deleted. This can mean the loss of a lot of traffic to your site and can cripple your marketing campaign. Research spam filters and know the flags that you need to avoid in terms of language use, graphics, and repetition. If you have a poor response rate, check to see if your emails are getting lost in those filters.

Add Exclusive Content to your Emails

While part of the goal of list building is to drive more people to view your website or social media outlet, you strive to make sure that your emails are more than just promotions. Provide plenty of external resources that you can link to, but also make sure to include some exclusive content in your emails. This makes it so that the people who subscribe to your list are getting some sort of reward for doing so, which gives others more incentives to join. This could take the form of exclusive articles, special videos, and much more. Whatever you do to provide this extra content, make sure you advertise it well on your staging platform so people have that extra reason to click on the subscribe button.

Use Images and Video

People are more inclined to read an email if there is a graphical display for them to look at. Studies have demonstrated that images are extremely popular in marketing emails, and that embedded video is even better if you can produce it at a high enough degree of quality. Whatever list building software you choose to use, make sure that it supports these pieces of multimedia. This will likely mean that you will want to avoid freeware versions of list building software, since those programs provide basic functionality but are rarely reliable when it comes to more advanced options. No matter what sort of images or video you use, make sure that your brand appears to help viewers make the connection.

Consider Location

It’s sometimes easy to assume that because the Internet is worldwide, your products or services will be able to sell anywhere with the right marketing. This isn’t entirely true. While some products are universal, many of them have a h2er appeal in specific areas. Because of this, you should do what you can to lace your list building with as much market research as possible. Target customers that you know fit within your target demographics. You can always send out emails to another list to build upon that demographic and expand your business. However, most businesses tend to do better with educated, targeted online marketing. This especially extends to small businesses or startup companies.

Set Up a Good Autoresponder

One of the most effective tools that can supplement any new list building software is a good autoresponder program. This will give you a way to automate a response to people who send you emails. As with the general list building programs, however, you will want to make sure that you don’t automatically pick a program just for its low cost. There are plenty of free autoresponder programs out there, but only a handful of them can handle a lot of traffic. A good autoresponder will also be able to keep you up to date when somebody’s email account closes. This will give you a good feel for the general migratory practices of your customer base, which can feed into your overall social media marketing. I personally use Aweber.

Ease into Managing Multiple Lists

It might be very tempting to set up a whole slew of different email lists, one for each demographic pool you want to reach. Jumping in all at once, though, can leave you with a lot of wasted time spent list building with very few tangible results. It is best to ease your way into the world of list building, beginning with one overarching pool and then adding specific demographically targeted emails as your traffic analysis demands. This way, you will be relying more on real results than on projections. Even the most educated guesses tend to be wrong a fair share of the time, so having real data is definitely the way to go when it comes to making sure that you are reaching the most responsive customers.

Highlight Deals in the Subject Line

If you’re using your list building as a way to get the news out about great deals, make sure that you highlight those sales in the subject line of each email announcement. At the same time, avoid making basic mistakes like using poor grammar or using too many capital letters, as these will increase the likelihood that your email will get accidentally deleted as spam. By making your deals as clear as possible in the subject line, you will increase the level of interest in your readers right away. This will in turn make them more likely to click on the email. From there, you should follow through and clearly highlight the deal in your subject line at the top of your email. Good message construction generates sales.

Build your Emails like you Build your Site

One of the things that will help out your online marketing endeavor a lot is making sure that you stay consistent across all media. That means that your marketing emails should have the same color scheme and basic graphical layout as your blog, store, and website. You don’t need to follow the template slavishly, but you should definitely work to make sure that anything you send out is immediately recognizable as a part of your brand identity. When doing longer email articles or links that lead readers to your blog or website, make sure that the writing style remains consistent. The goal should be to give a seamless transition from one form of media to another, no matter where your customers go.

Keep a Consistent Schedule

Last but not least, make sure that you stay consistent in your email schedules. When you are in the list building phase, you should strive to make sure that you have several emails queued up that will be able to see you through the early weeks or months of your marketing campaign. That way, if you run into a technical problem or some other delay, you have the time to adjust it without disrupting your schedule. The goal of staying consistent in your email releases is to make sure that customers are expecting and looking forward to each new announcement. If you plan to do a weekly email every Wednesday, make sure you have the email ready to go out by Tuesday at the latest to avoid problems.
By following the guidelines above, you will be able to engage in a very successful email marketing campaign. Good list building and preparation for a long series of email updates can make the difference between a successful marketing endeavor and one that leaves you with a lot of wasted time and money. No matter what else you do, always remember that quality and consistency are the keys to success.

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

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