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A Dual Approach to Growing your Email List

An effective and profitable Email Marketing campaign starts with a quality mailing list. So how do you get your target group on there?

Whether you are trying to keep in touch and build strong relationships with your clients, launch new products, promote special offers, generate repeat business or position yourself as an expert in your field, here at LeadGenerators we understand that Email Marketing can be a very powerful tool to help you reach your target market and achieve your marketing objectives.

However, one of the key ingredients to a successful Email Marketing strategy is developing a good and very targeted contact list, and I am aware that this one is a very important stumbling block for many of our clients.

A key ingredient to a successful #EmailMarketing strategy is developing a targeted contact list. Click To Tweet

So I thought that for this post it would be useful to discuss some of the tips and ideas for growing an email list that have been useful not only for my clients in the past but, dare I say, also for me for the marketing of my business.

The Two Prong Approach

I personally have found it very helpful to make the distinction between two different approaches to growing your mailing list: the first is to take advantage of your existing traffic (this could be traffic on your website, on your Facebook account, etc.) and to work towards converting more of your readers into subscribers. This is very important as normal website conversion rates are usually so very low (only a few percentage points in many industries), which means that almost all of your traffic, in most cases, comes to your site and leaves with no apparent benefit to you at all.

For this reason, trying to find a way of getting these fleeting visitors to at least want to leave you their email address and possibly name is a hugely important part of giving you a second chance to get them to leave you their bank account details next time.

The second approach is that of finding completely new prospects, new readers, new traffic and converting them into subscribers. Classic lead generation.

Frank Orman presents a two prong approach to growing your email list. #EmailMarketing Click To Tweet

Don’t Forget Seth

Some of you might have forgotten Seth Godin’s golden rule about permission marketing. I remember when it first came out it was quite a shocking revelation and now it is so obvious that it seems almost not worth mentioning. And yet it is still crucial and underpins the very basic foundation principle of Content Marketing.

Not only do you need to get permission to market to your readership but, even more importantly, you have to create and provide the type of content that they really want, or find useful, or helps them out, or develops them. It does not matter what the reason, but your readership has to want your content. And this applies not only to your corporate blog, your website, your social media pages but also to your email content. Ultimately, it is your content that you need people to want. I have heard it being called “crave-worthy content” and while the name is a little “cringe-worthy” I think it is an important name to help discipline us all to think in a much more customer-centric manner. For this reason, I dedicated some time to writing up a post on how to think about and create crave worthy content for your readers.

Prong One: Helping your Readers Become Subscribers

On the surface, this should be a slightly easier job. After all, you already have readers who know about you or you have invested in SEO or PPC and have a steady stream of readers finding you and coming to your website.

Assuming that you are honest about your key phrase strategy and resultant messaging and that you are relevant for the search traffic coming to your site, and assuming that you have something valuable to offer, to read, to teach, to sell (depending on your copy concept and sales strategy) your resultant visitors might not be ready to buy but at least they should find your content useful or engaging.

With this in mind, and if you honestly feel that you have more to offer, this would represent the perfect scenario for suggesting that your readers subscribe in order to continue to benefit from your content in the future.

Prong one to growing your email list: helping your readers become subscribers! #EmailMarketing Click To Tweet

Install a Popup

When I first set up my agency about 15 years ago I personally used to shy away from these rather in-your-face and intrusive methods of canvassing for subscribers, but I think that it was because my training and initiation into the world of online marketing was in the secured personal loans and life insurance industries, where the spam factor and the high pressure salesmanship has always been overwhelming. However, despite what I felt about these tactics, I could not ignore the fact that they helped us generate email addresses and from these email addresses, we got business. Yes, it might sound crass – but it worked.

15 years on and we have all grown up and learned that the way to augment the success of this methodology is to offer quality content that is useful and valuable to our readership. The numbers might be smaller but the sign ups are far more valuable.

Depending on your business and what you have to offer, you might induce your readers with different messages.

Groupon, for example, has customised popups for each of their destination pages. It also gives an idea of the kind of discounts you can expect when entering your email address, which I rather like.

Popup on Groupon London’s website.

Popup on Groupon London’s website.

Popup by Convince & Convert.

Popup by Convince & Convert.

This popup by Convince & Convert is great in the way that it takes away one of the main reasons people are reluctant to join a mailing list in the first place, which is that the amount of information will be useless and/or overwhelming.

Add a Data Capture Form to your Pages

Another way of boosting subscriptions from readers is a data capture form. This can be placed anywhere on your website, and I always try to persuade my clients to pepper them around liberally on their site, on their blog, etc.

BP2 - Image 3

Data capture form by the Content Marketing Institute.

I like this data capture form by the Content Marketing Institute because it stands out visually, it makes use of the ‘social proof’ principle by stressing the number of people who have signed up already and it makes a clear promise about what you get when signing up (and when and where and that it’s free).

Some companies like to use a more light hearted approach and over the years I have seen many examples of this genre used across many industries.

Data capture form by Untamed Writing

Data capture form by Untamed Writing.

Signup Page

Another piece of online real estate that you could take advantage of for generating signups is a dedicated signup page.

It’s what the Content Marketing Institute does, just have a look at their signup landing page. It’s clean, it’s clear, it’s functional, it doesn’t ask for too much information and it gives visitors the final word about which content they do and do not wish to receive – an excellent example of permission marketing.

Getting Newsletter Signups from your Social Media

Your website is not the only battle ground in the quest to convert readers to subscribers.

In addition to web traffic, some of our clients have rather impressive social media following metrics and here too there are some quick and easy ideas to help harvest more subscribers.

Install a Facebook Newsletter App

In today’s world of online marketing, building a following on Facebook, or getting readership for any of your online content, has become an investment that requires not only time for outreach but also serious budgets in their own right. These days, more often than not, we are seeing that clients need to allocate real budgets to advertise their social content with PPC, via Facebook advertising and other paid methods in order to gain the traffic volumes that they need.

However, just like with your website, once you succeed in generating traffic and exposure for your social media content, you need to offer as many incentives and inducements and easy tools for your readers to subscribe and become ongoing, long term readers.

One example for Facebook to facilitate this is to use the newsletter signup apps that are offered by most of the mainstream mail systems such as Constant Contact, Mailchimp and GetResponse, etc. These signup apps enable your Facebook followers and readers to join your email list without even having to leave the social platform.

Active Planet Travels blog offers free travel tips and advice to email subscribers.

Active Planet Travels blog offers free travel tips and advice to email subscribers.

Get a Facebook Call to Action Button

Email Signup Button from Solo Travel Society

Email Signup Button from Solo Travel Society

And while we’re speaking of Facebook: Last December the social giant launched a new feature that allows business pages to add a call to action button to the top of their page in order to generate more newsletter sign ups.

Using this ‘sign up now’ option and linking it to a newsletter sign up page may be another helpful way of helping you increase your readers and followers to more actively subscribe to your ongoing email communications programme.

Every little helps.

Twitter Lead Generation Cards

Meanwhile on another social platform, this time Twitter, there is another opportunity to convert your readers into signups without your readers having to leave the news feed. This is done via the option of ‘Twitter Cards’ and Promoted Tweets by attaching an in-app email signup box to them.

twitter cards text edit 2

Email Signatures to Generate more Subscribers

And finally, a simple and quick idea to leave with something easy to implement.

Why not add a link to your email sign up page as part of your email signature?

If you and your company are sending out a lot of emails, this could represent an easy and very cheap way or getting more people to subscribe for the long term.

Prong Two: Finding Fresh New Prospects for Increasing your Email & Subscriber Lists

In addition to trying to convert your existing traffic and customers into long term interested subscribers, you might also need to augment that with new prospects as part of growing your followers and subscriber lists.

Prong two for growing your email list: find fresh new contacts aka: go out and make friends! Click To Tweet

Search Marketing to Increase Readers and Subscribers

As I mentioned above, the reality of online marketing and online exposure is that in today’s market, even the best content needs to be promoted. There is just such a growing volume of good content being produced every day that it is getting increasingly harder to get noticed. As Steuart Henderson Britt puts it: “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark. You know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.”

For this reason, one of the ways of getting ahead properly is simply to advertise your content and your sign up opportunities to this content in the exact same way that you promote and advertise your products and services.

I am talking about SEO and PPC campaigns to drive significant traffic numbers – and this means difficult budget allocations.

However, while you might grunt at this burden, let me put an interesting proposition to you.

As so much of your traffic that you are already paying for is probably converting at so low a rate, imagine that instead of getting, for example, a conversion rate of 4% for a one off opportunity to sell something to a stranger, you rather focus on creating the opportunity for 4% of your paid traffic to subscribe to your content over a long period of time, giving you the opportunity to build a more solid relationship and give you multiple sales opportunities to the same subscriber over many years.

Maybe not such a grunt proposition after all?

However, to take full advantage of this kind of opportunity you would need to reshape your search marketing strategy completely and do things almost contrary to what you are probably doing now, and then you would need to research and deploy a very difference set of key phrases to drive a different type of traffic to your content.

If you need some help with this, please get in touch.

Host an Event or Teach

For me, this method has not generated the largest part of my list but has hands down been the most valuable in terms of new business generation.

I teach. I offer seminars throughout the year on the Philosophy & Principles of Online Marketing, the Building Blocks of SEO, How to use Social Media to Achieve Marketing Objectives, etc. I also speak and offer 1-to-1 clinics at industry conferences and events.

Those who attend my training programmes are generally speaking marketing managers or general managers and, in addition to generating very good new business opportunities for me, it has also been a great way of building a very powerful list for future communications and content programmes.

Hosting an event, whether big or small, is an excellent way to expand your contact base and gain new email addresses of people who are interested in what you have to offer.

Try it, and see the results for yourself.

Organise Co-Branded Events

Again, as part of my education outreach programme I have partnered with various organisations where we have held events together. And this is a great way of getting their lists.

For example, I co-brand events with the largest provider of legal protection in the UK for employment issues for companies. As part of their marketing efforts they teach too. But the problem is that most business owners who have 10-20 employees but no HR department are not really interested in taking time off to listen to someone talking about the dangers of employment law. With all due respect, it is not what inspires and drives entrepreneurs.

For this reason, they invite me to teach these entrepreneurs how to get ahead with SEO and how to outrank and outperform their competitors online easily and quickly.

This is a much more sexy topic and one that gets many more people excited.

So, by inviting me to be their guest speaker, the employment law company gets bums on seats and is able to talk a little about their services, while I get access to the contact details of business owners that I can add to my list.

If you are either able to offer something of interest to another organisation’s customers or if you are able to create an event that would not only be of interest to your customers but also to the customers of another brand, then you could both invite your own clientele and swap lists in a mutually beneficial manner.

Good Old-Fashioned Networking

For those of you who, like me, rely on building very solid relationships with business leaders I still can’t stress enough the important of face to face networking.

Yes, it takes longer to build relationships with the right people and yes, it is much harder work but I have over the years made a point of attending industry events (not of my industry but of the industries of my clients): their annual conferences, their AGM dinners, their various events throughout the year, etc.

But the contacts that this generates, the opportunities that this offers and the excellent email lists that these networking opportunities offer have been hugely valuable for me.

Like most things in life, it is often very good to get out there and just meet more people. One of my most profitable clients ever was a result of a chance meeting in a synagogue in Kerala, India!

Buying Lists

I would not be doing justice to this post if I did not address the opportunity to buy a list.

A number of my clients have tried their hand at buying lists over the years and I too have made such attempts and, to be honest, finding a list that you can trust has been very difficult for all of us.

While I have very little experience obtaining B2C lists, for B2B businesses, membership lists from industry associations has generally been more reliable and valuable in the long run and the best way of getting those lists is to become a member yourself. Expensive but, for me, usually worth it.


How to grow your email list?

Make a distinction between your existing traffic and brand new visitors. For existing traffic, make it easy for them to leave an email address using data capture forms, pop-ups and getting sign-ups from social media traffic. For new visitors consider hosting events, co-branded events or even good old fashioned networking.

Why have an email list?

There are a number of reasons why you want a mailing list from keeping in touch with customers to launching new products, promoting special offers and generating repeat business.


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