Before I launched my new website, I had an average of 26 new subscribers every month. At that rate, it would take me years to build an effective email list.
Once I launched my new website, on September 4th, I have an average of 95 subscribers per month. October is going to blow that number out of the water.
If you’re a small business owner and don’t have an email list going, I’m not sure where you’ve been.
I’m going to guess that you’ve thought at least one of these things –
“I’m afraid to start one, because I don’t think anybody will actually sign up for it”
“I don’t know what I’m going to write in my e-newsletters”
“I don’t know how to set up my opt-in box”
Girl, you need to get that thing started. How do you know it won’t work if you’ve never tried!
Email lists are important to start building right away, because they are going to take a little bit to reach your ideal number of subscribers (if that number even exists).
Your email list is going to become the number one way to reach your potential clients & customers. It’s going to be vital to your success.
You’ll be able to create targeted email lists based off of what each person wants or needs from you.
You’ll be able to connect in a more personal setting – their email inbox – which makes it much easier for them to stay in touch with you and remember you.
You’ll be able to make more impressions on them. It takes about 7 ‘touches’ before a customer purchases something or books you. Your e-newsletters, exclusive content and everything else you want to send is going to put you or your products directly in front of your leads.
Setting up an email list isn’t as difficult as you might think it is.
Aweber is a bit more robust than Mailchimp, so it may be a bit much for just starting out, but if you like to Go Big or Go Home, then Aweber might be for you.
Mailchimp is free for up to 500 subscribers, and not too pricey after that. It’s very simple to use and I love their design interface (you get extra points for nice design in my book). I use Mailchimp. I might switch to Aweber later (for the split testing component and different add-on features), but Mailchimp is serving me just fine right now.
From within each of these programs, it’s very easy to grab your form code and paste the html directly on your website – on your blog’s sidebar, on your homepage or at the bottom of each of your posts (this takes a little bit of php knowledge or, if you use Thesis, it can be pretty easy to do).
If you use WordPress, these plugins will come in handy:
This plugin allows you to easily add a MailChimp opt-in box to your website in the form of a plugin.
This plugin allows you to add an Aweber opt-in box to your sidebar.
So, once you get the forms set up, how do you actually get people to sign up?
You have to create a compelling offer. Something they can’t turn down.
You must also have a content plan in place for your email list. This will help you focus on the TYPE of content you’re going to be writing, and it will help keep you accountable. I use a simple editorial calendar for my email lists (similar to my blog editorial calendar).
Once you know WHAT you’ll be writing about, I recommend creating a free resource for your email subscribers. It must be something that they really want.
It’s important to put your best effort into creating this free resource, because people WILL judge you based off of the quality of this first product. It will set the tone for the rest of your products.
Tell people that they will be receiving this free resource as soon as they sign up, along with what other type of content they should be expected to see.
When, they sign up, put your free resource download link in your final welcome email, and they will automatically receive it.
A couple of other ways to promote your list:
I use Facebook to tell people what exclusive content will be available to my email list only and encourage them to sign up before the email gets sent out. This creates a sense of urgency on their end, and people don’t like to miss out, so a lot of people will act on this.
I also have an Email List application on my facebook page. My tab image for the application reads “FREE Resources”, which obviously will encourage Facebook Fans to click on the application.
Provide a shortlink (I use bit.ly ) to provide a direct link to your email opt-in page right in your profile description.
Cross promote with another newsletter
Find another newsletter that you really enjoy, reach out to the owner of the list and offer to do an exchange of links to each of your email lists. This won’t be a cost for either of you, but will result in subscribers for both of you. Win-Win!
Remember – it will take a while to build your list, but if you keep putting out exclusive, valuable information, word will spread and your subscribers will grow.
Another tip – make your opt-in box VERY visible and easy to opt-in. On my old website (pre-September), I only put an opt-in box on my blog sidebar. My new website features an opt-in box on every page, on my sidebar and at the bottom of each of my blog posts. You might think it sounds like overkill, but the results have been incredible. I don’t even have my free resource ready to go and my numbers grow everyday.