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How to grow your email list as a beginner

How to grow your email list as a beginner

You always hear that email list growth is essential for every small business. But why, email is so old school?, I hear you ask. I am going to tell you why email lists are a game changer in your business, and why you should have a solid email marketing strategy from day 1.

Right here, I will give you the strategy, tools, and tips on how to stand out. Plus, I am going to break down why email list growth is key to growing your service-based business.

Email marketing is here to stay, and for good reason. More people use email than any other platform, including social media, and you have the power to reach out to your dream clients, connect with them and engage. If used effectively, with an intentional, purpose-led, structured strategy, email will be a money maker for your business and it will help your brand grow exponentially. 

We will go through the stats, automation processes, how to choose an email service provider, and how to stand out and actually get your emails opened. I’ve also added a super valuable freebie guide – getting you on track with an email strategy and a step-by-step method to get you automating. It’s simple, and you can start actioning right now.

Email marketing is a digital marketing strategy that allows you to engage directly with your dream clients. By the time people have joined your email list, you know that they know you, they trust you and they like what they see and what you’re about. Now, they want to know more. They are a warm audience who are receptive to you and your offerings. Hallelujah! It’s now up to you to nurture the relationship further and, if all goes well and everything is done effectively, it’s the perfect platform to sell your services comfortably to prospects that know and trust you. 

Today, we are going to break down why email list growth is a non-negotiable for your small business. Why, and how, it will help your brand grow and why having an engaged email list will make you money. Think of your email list as an asset to your business. Grow it, nurture it, spend time on it, and have a long term game plan.

As you know, I am all about the KISS principle – Keep It Simple, Simran. I am here to make marketing easy, and give you the actionable tools and tips you need to get started straight away. 

It’s time to debunk the myth that emails are a waste of time. 

I don’t know where this myth started, perhaps from people’s own views on emails, but the stats are crystal clear – it is absolutely worth investing your time, energy, understanding and money into email list building. Your email list will help you further nurture your relationships with your dream clients, and to connect and engage with them. It will also be a money generator for your business. 

While you should start on your list growth on day 1, you should be thinking long term game plan.

I hear time and time again from my clients that emails are not important in their service-based business. Here are some examples of what I hear:

My clients will not read my emails because they aren’t relevant to them.

I don’t even open or read emails so I’m a real life example of why email is a waste of time. 

As many of my clients are non-repeat clients that there is little point in having an email list.

These are all based on personal opinion and judgement. I am so guilty of this. But, let me tell you what changes my mind. Stats. I love reading mind blowing stats as they inevitably shatter my own personal biases, opinions and judgement. They help me move outside of my bubble, and sway me by opening up my mind and allowing me to realise that my own viewpoints aren’t necessarily what the majority think or do. So, here are some stats for you to digest. 

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STATISTICS SHOWING HOW EFFECTIVE EMAIL IS

99% of people check their email everyday. Some people check their email as much as 20 times per day, even more with the use of mobile devices. More than 50% of people check email before doing anything else online.

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Check out this pie chart from Optinmonster

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More people use email than any other platform, including social media.

Email reaches 85% of people you send it to, the average open rate is 22.86%, and the click through rate is around 3.71%. Let’s put those stats next to social media stats. You may have hundreds or thousands of followers on social media, but your content will not reach all of them. The algorithms are designed so that only a small percentage of your followers will actually see your content. 

For example, with Facebook, organic reach is only about 6.4%. This means that if you have 100 followers, only 6 of those will actually see your content. Social media is a whole other kettle of fish, and I won’t go into it in depth in this article, but take note – there is a direct correlation between engagement and people seeing your posts. So, the more people engage with your posts, the more people will see your posts.

According to Statista, email usage is predicted to grow by 2-3% each year from 2018 to 2023. 

Email generates a 3,008% ROI (return on investment), making it one of the most effective marketing options out there.

Email marketing is Queen.

The stats are crystal clear. Email marketing is key and essential to growing your business and building your know, like and trust factor with your dream clients. 

BUT, with those numbers, doesn’t that mean that the push for businesses to use email will lead to more people with cluttered inboxes? Yes. 

So, it is important to stand out from the crowd. If you are posting regular content that resonates, engages, and adds value, you will find more and more people subscribe and people will be opening your emails. I will be going through ways to stand out from the crowd that you could adopt into your strategy, but first, let’s look at how to build your email list from scratch.

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WHY YOU SHOULDN’T FOCUS YOUR EFFORTS SOLELY ON SOCIAL MEDIA

Reason number 1. You don’t own your social media platform. Everything from your account, followers, posts, images… You don’t own, and the platforms control your usage and can delete, suspend, or ban you at any point in time. (Have you ever read the T&Cs?)

Every marketing strategy you action has its place in your business and they should all work cohesively together. So, it’s important to have a mix of marketing tools to attract and engage your target audience and not rely solely on one method.

Imagine waking up in the morning to discover that you entire Instagram account has been suspended or, worse, deleted? 

Reason number 2. You do own your email list and you have complete control over it.

Reason number 3. Like a lot of things in life, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. When it comes to growing your brand, you shouldn’t be relying solely on social media. 

Reason number 4. People aren’t on social media to buy. Instead, they are on there to browse, check out what they’re family and friends are up to, and just enjoy their browsing experience. Think about how you use social media and your preferred experience. Social media is one part in the customer journey, and is the space for your target audience to get to know you and find out what you’re all about. Your goal is to move people along the customer journey, off social media and onto your email list.

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HOW TO START BUILDING YOUR EMAIL LIST FROM SCRATCH

As an early stage business owner, how the heck do I start building my email list when I’m starting from zero?, I hear you ask. Well, I’ve got you. 

Here are some great ways to build your email list from scratch.

Use your existing network. Start building your email list using your current clients, current and past colleagues, referrers, and any other relevant people in your network. Let them know what you’re doing, where you’re at, your services, and why they should follow you – this should be done on both email and social media. Then, ask your network to share this with other people in their networks that would be interested. Don’t underestimate the power of this.

TIP – LinkedIn is a great social platform for professionals and the algorithm is incredibly generous. Once you post into your network, whenever someone within your network likes or comments on your post, your post then boosts into their network, and so on and so on. 

Create attractor content. Spend time creating 3-5 super high value free resources (called a freebie, lead magnet, or opt in resource) that will attract your dream clients. These resources are the introduction to your market place so they should provide significant value. You want people who have never heard about you to be saying, ‘who is this person? I can’t believe this is FREE! You want to enter the market and show up to your dream clients with a boom!

Freebies can be cheat sheets, guides, checklists, masterclasses… Anything that is quick to digest but gives actionable and quick-win tools that people can start on right away and will help them move forward. What’s key is for people to receive the free resource, they will need to provide their name and email address. 

Create a freebie plan. You want to be generating free content consistently for your target audience, so it’s important to have a plan. But, what freebies should you be producing? Avoid the scattergun approach and tie in what freebies you produce with your service offerings. By now, you should have identified who your dream client is and their main pain points and struggles. Write down their main struggles and how you can solve them. Then create freebie guides around these. Don’t be afraid to share information. I tend to err on the side of giving more than less. Honestly, I don’t know what not to put in!

The idea behind generating high value freebies is for your dream clients to get to know you, see your expertise, the value you are providing, and the trust is building. By this point, your target audience has seen you showing up consistently online, and they have gotten to know you and can see what you are all about adding value. So, when you share a freebie, they have the trust and confidence to exchange their email address for the freebie. This is a big deal.

Add pop ups and opt in banners on your website. From day 1, you should be adding pop ups and opt in banners on your website. If people are on your website, it means they are becoming warm to your brand, so pop ups become incredibly effective. 

Getting social on socials. Become visible on socials by engaging with your target audience. Spend 15-20 minutes per day on socials engaging. Create 1 to 1 connections with people online, use their first name, create connection. Others will then see your engagement and comments. The power of association is a strong driver for people to follow you. Growing your email list works together with growing your social media presence online.

Offer value. Incentivise your target audience by only offering daily tips, a challenge, or educational gold nuggets to your subscribers. They will only receive this incredibly valuable information by signing up to your emails, and no where else.

Add value in Facebook groups. Join relevant Facebook groups where your dream clients hang out and add value, tips, answer questions. Become an active member in the group by being known as the go-to person. Once you become visible and known in the group, then start letting people know about your free resources. It’s not about being salesy and using the group to pitch – it’s about adding value.

TIP: Facebook groups is also a great way to learn more about your ideal client.

Go where your clients hang out online. If it’s not Facebook groups, go where your clients hang out online. It may be LinkedIn, Instagram, Quora, or other online platforms. Wherever it is, go there. See what your dream clients are posting about, see what they’re asking and what they’re interested in. Again, ask questions, become visible by engaging with your ideal clients. Then you can slip in your freebie without being salesy because you have been active, you’ve been adding value, you have been asking questions and being consistent in your presence. 

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?: Think about your habits… Would you give up your valuable email to any brand you see online providing a freebie guide? Or, would you only give up your email to a brand you have been following online, you have gotten to know them as they show up and provide consistent content that you resonate with?

Once you understand the customer journey, you will be able to target your dream clients at the different stages of the journey and see where they are at in the sales funnel. Building up the know, like, and trust factor with your target audience will lead to more sales, so this should be a huge focus in your strategy. 

ASK YOURSELF: How often do you buy online from a brand that comes across your digital path but you know nothing about vs a brand that you have gotten to know, have been following on socials for a while, has been providing you with targeted content that you find valuable and you trust?

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WAYS TO PROMOTE YOUR FREE RESOURCES

Have a ‘Freebie’ section on your website that clearly sets out all of your free resources. People need to opt in to your email list in order to download them. 

Have a blog section on your website and offer a content upgrade which is a freebie guide that complements your blog topic. 

The pop up on your website should notify visitors about your latest freebie guide. 

The banner at the top of your website home page should let visitors know about your latest freebie.

Create a landing page which details your freebie. This is where people will go to to sign up to your mailing list in exchange for your freebie.

Social media. Use lives, Instagram stories or posts to notify your following about your latest freebie. It could be as simple as creating a quick educational video and then letting viewers know about the accompanying freebie.

Use paid ads. You can use paid ads to direct people to your free resource.

Promote widely and make it enticing.

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HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR EMAIL MARKETING SERVICE PROVIDER

There is no right or wrong way to choose an email marketing service provider, but choosing the free option isn’t always the best choice. 

Here are some features that you want from your provider: 

Lead pages and forms

Templates

Analytics

Pop up forms

Email sequences and automations

A/B testing

Email support.

These are commonly included features that are important.

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Consider:

The features offered at the different pricing levels.

How easy it is to navigate around and use the platform.

How easy it is to integrate into your website.

The templates available for free and those you need to pay for.

Whether it offers a free trial period to test it out.

The integrations offered with payment systems.

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Platforms I’ve tried and tested:

Mailchimp – this is free up to 2000 subscribers and a very popular choice. Check out the available options here. I couldn’t wrap my head around Mailchimp so that meant I didn’t use all of its features, including automations. I don’t know why I didn’t get it, but if it works for you then go for it.

ConvertKit – this is what I currently use and I love it. It’s a paid provider. Because I love it so much, it’s worth every cent. I find it user friendly and the interface is easy to understand and navigate around. Plus, I find the email sequences and automations incredibly simple. I was confused about how they worked on Mailchimp so I didn’t use any automation. Automation is a game changer, so you definitely want to understand how to automate and sequence! I also like the lead page templates and I am able to add my Facebook pixel to them – absolutely key for when you start doing paid ads.

SIDE BAR – a lot of people use ConvertKit with Leadpages.

What is essential is that the platform is easy to use, I understand it, and I can work out the sequences and automations without any fuss. You want to gel with the platform, understand all the features and be one with it. If you don’t understand it and can’t figure it out quickly, the platform can offer you the best features in the world but you won’t use them as you don’t know how.

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What I’m looking for:

Easy to use

Easy to understand

Easy to figure out sequences and automations

Has lead page templates

Has pop up forms to add to my website

Has good customer support.

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A few more that I haven’t tried:

Drip

ActiveCampaign

HubSpot

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If you want an all-in-one business platform that offers you payment systems, email marketing, lead pages, online courses, video hosting and so much more, check out Kartra or Kajabi. These are more expensive but offer everything your online business would need in one place.

I use Kartra so if you have questions, get in touch!

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ONCE YOUR DREAM CLIENTS ARE INSIDE

You have people in your email list, now what? You need to set the expectations as soon as they step inside. 

Start by creating an automated ‘welcome sequence’ of emails that introduces who you are, what you’re about and set the expectations. For example, my welcome sequence is as follows, once people sign up to my email list: 

Welcome to the LegalStudio Hub – here I welcome my newest member, I let them know my mission and what happens inside the Hub. (I am setting the expectations)

Free resources – here I let my newest member know about the Hustle Knowledge Hub and the free resource section on my website. (I want my members to know about the free resources I provide to grow their business)

My tell all – I tell my newest member a little about me. I cannot assume people who sign up know my story and what I’m about.

Invitation to a 30 minute discovery call – here I invite my newest member to a 30 minute discovery call.

I’ve already created the sequence, so these emails are sent automatically over a few days, not in one hit. As soon as people join, it is up to me to set the expectations, let people know about my story, direct them to my catalogue of free resources, and then I invite them to get on a call with me. I’ll always take the opportunity to speak to my target audience whenever I can, so I will offer this upfront.

The automated welcome sequence you choose should work for your business, but it should set the expectations, offer value, and tell your members about you. 

Next is setting the frequency of your emails. This is up to you, but, consistency is key. Perhaps it’s once a week, perhaps it’s once a fortnight. Do what works for you, but be consistent and always be adding value. 

You want to provide such valuable content that your target audience cannot wait to open your emails every week!

When creating content, you may want to mix it up from week to week. Updates, education, value, story telling, selling. Don’t forget, you are also there to sell your service offerings to your target audience and, ultimately, solve their problems. While you don’t want to do a sales pitch, it’s important to inform your members about your services.

Email list building is a long term strategy and what is key is being clear about your purpose. Be clear about why people should be signing up to your email list and what they will get inside. It will take time to build up your email list and it is something you should always be doing. Content is a powerful way to build your email list so your strategy should incorporate content marketing methods that add value and educate to attract your dream clients.

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THE ANALYTICS

I am a bit of a numbers nerd, so I love looking at the analytics. If the word, ‘analytics’ sends shivers down your spine, let’s look at the essentials. The most important to look at are the unsubscribe rates, open rates and click through rates. 

Unsubscribe rates show how many people are unsubscribing. Don’t be alarmed if people unsubscribe. Unsubscribes is a good way to keep your list clean with members who are interested in your content and will more likely read your emails. If your unsubscribe rate is higher than your opt in rate, then there’s a problem. You need to look at why people are unsubscribing, review your email content and consider a revamp, or your sequence. Review where people seem to be unsubscribing. Look at what you’re doing wrong, and fix it. Pivot, change, redirect.

Open rates show the number of people who open your emails. If the stats are low, this means that your engagement is low. You want people to look forward to your emails and be excited to open them up! If they are not, then you should be looking at your content and see whether it resonates and connects with your target audience. Remember, value is key. 

Click through rates show the number of people who clicked on links in your emails. Again, if the numbers are low, check your content and check the link to see if it’s working or whether it’s slow to upload. 

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HOW TO STAND OUT

Email marketing isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the stats indicate that email will only continue to grow. 

So, with more and more small businesses jumping on the email bandwagon, how do you stand out and be seen amongst the cluttered inboxes and get your emails opened? 

You may have heard of the effectiveness of plain-text emails, which are simple, no fancy style emails. But, a great way to stand out from the crowd is by making your email fun with interactive content. This could be GIFs, videos, surveys… Be creative, mix it up, and test it out. See what is working. 

So many small businesses are using emails the wrong way. They are so focussed on posting their newsletter regularly, making sure they are posting weekly content but they aren’t focussing on the quality of the content. While being consistent is KEY, of equal importance is adding value and providing quality content. If you aren’t able to post valuable content weekly, then step it back and post fortnightly instead. People are subscribing to learn from you, for you to answer their questions, and be inspired by you. So, you should be offering that to them. That is what will get your emails opened.

Personalise your email. Personalised emails are about having a personal tone and style and including small things like using your subscriber’s first name in the email. But, it’s also about providing relevant content. This shows that you know your readers and you understand their pain points and struggles. You get them. Your emails should resonate with your readers – that is what will get your emails opened. When it comes to your personal tone, add life to your emails, show your personality, be engaging, add storytelling so that your readers are able to connect with you. Think about what sort of emails you enjoy reading and then list out why. Use these to model your emails.

Have a catchy subject heading. This is where A/B testing comes in. Play around with your subject headings to make them enticing so that people are hungry to open your emails. A/B testing is where you can test a couple of subject headings. The platform will then send out both versions with the different subject headings to a small portion of your email list. Over a given period of time, say an hour or two, the platform will determine which version has a higher open rate and will then send that email out to the remainder of your email list. It’s a great way to test what’s working and what captures your readers’ attention.

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SUMMARY

Email marketing doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective but it can be a game changer for your business, if done the right way. So, it’s important to have a strategy that not only attracts new people into your email list, but also continues to nurture the relationship with those already in your list. You want to be adding value to your current subscribers to keep them interested, connected, and engaged so that they become your raving fans who will confidently buy your products and services. 

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DOWNLOAD: Grab this high value freebie, a step-by-step email strategy that you can action right now and that will get you growing your list today. It includes a step-by-step tech guide to help with your email sequences and automations – no more tech overwhelm!

Let’s grow your hustle!

Hi, I’m Simran, and I’m here to help savvy new coaches and service-based business owners start and grow a profitable business and land clients with intentional action and strategy.

And, I am here to help you catapult your online visibility with confidence and authority, while being authentically you.

If you want to work with me, find out more about my coaching services.

simran@simranksingh.co

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