A little more analysis, a little more insight… Exploring email marketing better

8 No-cost tips to grow your mailing list

Email marketing is one of the most formidable and most cost-effective marketing tool out there. The future of email and email marketing is strong and email promises to be a tool of choice for marketers.

Our friend Bill White knows this. He is in-charge of sales and marketing at a mid-size widget company. So he wants to build and grow the company mailing list. He wants to explore and accelerate his company’s email marketing efforts. He wants to reach out to many, many more prospects and share with them the benefits of the wonderful products of his company.

But the current mailing list that Bill’s company has is very small. So Bill decides to grow the list.

So how can Bill, or for that matter anyone, grow their mailing list?

Just like everything else, there is no magic pill. Concerted efforts in the right direction will eventually produce fantastic results. Your mailing list will surely grow. That’s all. No magic.

(Why not purchase mailing lists? Well, for one, countries like Canada have now declared purchased lists illegal, and for another, they are unsafe. Here’s a nice post by MailChimp on purchased list.)

That brings us to the question: how to get more and more opt-ins, people, voluntarily?

We looked around to find what were some of the best ways to build a mailing list. We wanted to integrate some of the best inputs, the best tips, the best advice that experts had to offer.

The following is a compilation of actionable strategies that three expert websites (HubSpot, KissMetrics and ContentMarketingInstitute) and the email marketing managers with our clients have to share.

Let’s start with the some basic tools that cost practically nothing, are very powerful, can be pulled off in almost no time and yet are overlooked more often than you think.

1. Display the opt-in form on your website prominently

Of course your site has the Opt-in box. The question is, where is it?

If the visitor has to hunt around a lot to locate the box, you need to change its place right away. The opt-in box should be visible, and above the fold.

Another factor, often overlooked, is the color combination on your website. It is best not to choose a color simply because you like it. There’s a whole lot of psychology behind color.

You may want to check out what Kissmetrics and Mashable think of color combinations.

2. Leverage Social media sites with richer content

You might be surprised how under-leveraged are most social media sites. The following are some of the most common tips experts suggest

  1. Don’t forget the Call-to-Action button on Facebook.
  2. Promote some special offers on Twitters. Create a campaign offering something of value that can be redeemed by opting in.
  3. LinkedIn offers a good platform to get followers/fans. Why not publish something meaningful in LinkedIn Pulse?

3.  Design and create better emails

Sometimes, emails are written in a hurry. A quick grammar check and you think you are done.

All emails you send out must be crafted beautifully. They must be worded the right way, should not deviate from the primary objective.

Powerful content in the email you write helps you ensure high readability and therefore more business.

4. Encourage and facilitate in-mail share

The recipient has already signed in to receive your emails, right? In fact that’s why she’s receiving the emails. Then why bother to include in-mail share and the CTA (Call To Action) button in the email?

I think it’s a bad idea to be content with the recipient having opened and read the mail. If the email was so good, why didn’t she share it?

One reason is you neither prompted her to share nor made it easy for her to share.

This is easily taken care of: include an “Email to a friend” button. That lets you get into the mailboxes of her friends, colleagues and network. Do you realize you had been losing out access to hundreds of such mailboxes simply because you did not put a button?!

5. Allow recipients of forwarded emails to opt in too

Let’s say Kim, who’s your opt-in, forwards your email to Fred, her contact. Fred reads the email and instantly likes the contents, so he wants to sign-up for your emails. So how would he go about it?

Use the CTA button here in all your emails. “Subscribe” is all the button needs to say. Without the “Subscribe” button, it’s quite likely Fred won’t take the trouble to visit your site, locate the opt-in box and sign up.

6. Use an email list that’s not been used for some time

Take a good look at an unused mailing list, perhaps from an earlier campaign. If you are wondering how many email addresses die every year, well, the estimates vary, but upto 33 percent of email addresses may die every year, i.e. become obsolete.

There are two things that need to be done with the list.

Firstly, you need to verify how many of the addresses are valid and how many aren’t. Email list validation and cleaning services tell you how many of the addresses on your list are good and how many are not safe to send. Sending emails only to valid emails is extremely important for factors like deliverability and your reputation.

Secondly, come up with a nice email and send it to all the valid email addresses, asking them if they would like to re-opt in. Honor your promise of removing address of recipients who did not choose to opt-in.

While this certainly reduces the number of addresses on your database, it actually benefits you. With confirmed opt-ins, your emails won’t bounce. They wouldn’t land in their spam folders so the deliverability shoots up tremendously.

Besides, this email will be actually read. More reading means more prospects and more business. So, at the end, it leads to a much better ROI (Return on Investment).

7. Remember content is king, so focus on better content

If your posts are rich in information, readers would surely want more.

Let’s say you have created a 3,000-word post on how to get better abs with lesser workouts, all full of scientific evidence and instructional images .

Now this is what you can do.

Split the post into 2 parts, say 1,000 words and 2,000 words. Keep the 1st part (1,000 words) open for all; any visitor to your site can read it. Ask the readers to submit their email addresses and sign in to read the 2nd part (2,000 words) in exchange for the 2nd part.

A word of caution, however.  The 1st part should be so attractive that readers would want to read the second. And anything that you offer to only those who sign in must be good, else readers would feel cheated out of email addresses for a post that added no significant value.

8. Package your content in easy to understand language

Downloadable reports, interesting infographics, resources lists,  ebooks, specialty tools, royalty-free images, designs and layouts of kitchens… These are some of the things that are regularly offered as freebies today.

That’s why any visitor to your site would appreciate any of these things you offer. Only make sure you use terms commonly understood terms. For instance, use the term Whitepaper, instead of saying “….. authoritative report or guide that informs readers concisely about a complex issue and presents the issuing body’s philosophy on the matter” (Wiki)

Make the fullest use of all resources you can share:videos, texts, reports, software…. anything.

Bonus Tip: Use a sticky sidebar that doesn’t vanish with scroll-downs

It’s easy for your readers to scroll down your post… and completely ignore the opt-in information you have provided at the top of the post.

There’s a simple solution to it: make your side-bar sticky. That means no matter however much the reader scrolls below and continue reading, one thing that won’t vanish is the side-bar with the opt-in form. That provides a tremendous opportunity to your reader to opt-in at any point of time while reading your post. It’s not about nagging the reader, it’s being present anytime your reader is ready to opt-in. Think of the sticky side-bar as something that simplifies the life of your reader; anytime she’s ready to opt in she doesn’t have to scroll up and look around for the form.

What are the other tactics you use to add to your mailing list? Do share them with us in the comments section below.

For further reading: 

  1. Hubspot
  2. KissMetrics
  3. ContentMarketingInstitute

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