You’re under pressure to start that email marketing strategy, and your boss wants to see it rolled out next month. You know the benefits of email marketing for small businesses are many, so you are on board. You’ve got ideas about design, opening paragraphs, and catchy subject lines, but the one thing you don’t have? A subscriber list.
The temptation, of course, is to take the shortest route to acquiring an email list which often comes in the form of buying, or even renting an email list from a “trusted source”. If you take this route, here is what the process may look like:
- Request a relevant demographic and ask for a sample from “trusted source”.
- Get a quote for the size of email list you need.
- Buy said list to impress your boss immediately.
- Swear you will work on an inbound marketing strategy to grow your list organically.
- Never get to said inbound strategy because of the necessity of the urgent.
- Don’t see good open rates, click throughs or conversions from email campaign.
- Get called into your boss’ office.
The problem with buying an email list is that it over-promises and under-delivers. What seems like an “easy” solution actually ends up costing your organization more time and money in the long run.
Purchased email lists are full of people that do not know your brand, and are thus unlikely to open what you send. So while you may be sending emails with great content, photos and CTA’s, they are likely being unopened, or the message is falling on deaf ears. This means that you are wasting your content on the wrong audience. While the list you bought was the correct demographic and may have overall shared interests, it doesn’t mean that it’s the ideal audience.
Who is Your Ideal Email Audience?
Your ideal audience are fans of your brand that chose willingly to receive emails from your company. They follow you on social media, buy your product, read your blogs, and rep your brand. These are people that have physically typed in their email address into your opt-in form, and are genuinely excited to receive your company updates. These are people that most likely fit your target demographic (depending on your overall marketing strategy), and have an invested interest in what you are up to and where you are going.
This type of email subscriber is not bought, and never can be. An organic fan and follower is worth so much more than any price tag.
How to Organically Grow Your Email List
The best way to organically grow your email list is simply by owning your own opt-in subscriber list. You make the rules, you draw the parameters, and you invite people to your inbox party. Now getting people to opt-in is a whole other ball game. After much trial and error, we have found one of the most effective ways to get people to opt-in to your email list is to offer something in return. People love to receive free things, especially from a company they know and respect. So what can you offer? Some option might include:
- A discount code for free shipping
- White Papers on a relevant topic
The goal is to provide your email subscriber with a premium offer that they can’t get anywhere else on your website in exchange for their email address. Whatever it is you decide to offer, be sure it’s ready ahead of time, so that as soon as the “submit” button is pressed and the email subscription finalized, it shows up immediately in their inbox.
Where to Opt-In
Your first step is to create an opt-in form that asks for a reader’s email information. This form should have a clear call to action, that relates to the premium offer they will receive immediately. Bonus is if the call to action is also related to the current page of the website the reader is currently browsing. Integrated marketing strategies are always the most effective. Here’s an example:
A reader enters your website through a blog link from your Facebook page. The blog, entitled “The Art of Blogging: Making Money Doing What You Love” is all about what it takes to be a professional blogger. Based on the amount of time the average reader is on this blog, create a modal window that pops up and asks for their email address, while offering relevant premium content in exchange. This may look like:
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What makes this CTA effective is its ability to capitalize on what the reader is already interested in, while offering a helpful tool for them to grow their own blogging business. With offers such as these, and CTAs placed intentionally on specific pages on your site, will overtime grow a list of loyal email subscribers.
Effective Email Marketing is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Up-front, organically growing your email subscriber list absolutely takes more planning and more time to implement. Make no mistake, this solution will take longer to build than purchasing one. But the email game is a marathon, not a sprint. The end goal of having an email list that grows, educates, and converts happens one step at a time, one foot in front of the other, mile after mile. The end result, however, is a long list of dedicated fans who are willing to jump on board to wherever your brand is headed, share your content, and are more likely to become a lifelong ambassador.