With social media algorithms ever changing, developing a mailing list is a powerful way to cultivate your audience. 10 years ago Facebook was a totally organic space to connect with people. Five years ago, Instagram was a much more organic space to connect with people. Today they are the same company with algorithms that support paid advertising over organic reach. For many businesses, relying on social media to build and grow an audience doesn’t make sense. And thankfully, you have other options to support you: Strong branding, a solid website presence, PR, and my current favourite: A mailing list.
Creating a regular newsletter is a brilliant way to grow and connect with your audience. Because people actually choose to subscribe, and to hear from you, they are paying attention to what you share. My best advice: Offer something generous and valuable in every email you send. Whether that’s tax advice, design tips, a discount, or a free meditation, all audiences are signing up because they want to know more about what you’re offering, and they want to receive value.
With that in mind, here are five steps to starting and growing your own email list.
Step One: Choose a mail service that meets your needs.
Here are the key points to consider as you choose a platform:
How exactly you’ll capture new subscribers from your website and add them to your list.
The design options available.
The cost of the subscription.
In my research FloDesk was the best choice for all of the above. All of the providers I researched and have tried in the past increase the price of the subscription as your list grows, so you’ll expect to pay around $50/month for all of these except FloDesk, which stays at $19/month no matter how many subscribers you have.
And secondly, FloDesk offers the most beautiful templates of any provider I’ve seen. They give you ready-to-go templates for anything you want to put on your site: a pop up, in-line form, embedded subscribe, banner. If you’re not super techy (like me), FloDesk feels like the easiest to navigate. To see some examples, here is a pop up and subscribe page I created in less than 30 minutes for my wellness events platform, Head + Heart.
Step Two: Begin collecting emails from your audience.
Once you’ve chosen a platform, and signed up, you’ll want to decide on how you’ll capture emails from new subscribers. We’re talking about form building here, people. Will you use a pop up form, a slider, an embedded subscribe form at the bottom of each page? Will you add “Subscribe” as a menu item? I always recommend inviting people to subscribe in more than one place on your site.
As you build your forms, ideally by choosing templates from your provider and updating them to match your branding, remember to capture the first name of each of your new subscribers. Stats show that people open and engage more when their first name is used in the greeting of an email. So, make sure your forms collect both a first name AND email address.
The words ‘form building’ may not bring fun times to mind but actually, you can have fun with this process. Feel free to be creative and playful in how you invite people to join your list. Here are two embedded subscribe forms that show some personality:
Offering incentives to subscribe, like freebies, gifts or discounts helps too. Like this:
And finally, I also recommend creating a welcome sequence to “nurture” new subscribers. A typical welcome sequence starts with a welcome email thanking people for joining the list, and maybe giving them an inspiring message or call-to-action. And a sequence could consist of three to five automated emails that are sent every week or two to bring people into the story of your business, offering value in each email. Another reason I love FloDesk is that they offer a few welcome sequence templates that you can adapt and start using.
Step 3: Make list building a part of your overall marketing strategy
If you’ve never collected an email from your audience before, don’t worry. We’ve all got to start somewhere! Once you’ve started capturing email addresses, your next step is to make sure list building is a part of your overall strategy. Brainstorm the ways you can invite people to join your list, across all your marketing platforms. For example, add a ‘subscribe’ invite to all of the platforms it makes sense to do so: Your Instagram link-in-bio, your email signature, your Facebook tab, and in your content creation strategy. On this last point, we recommend regularly creating social posts and pins that let people know they’ll get more goodness by joining your mailing list. Don’t be shy. There are lots of compelling ways to do this, using giveaways, freebies, and quizzes. Example
Step 4: Start sharing a GREAT newsletter
Whether you call it the Sunday Paper, the DailySkimm, an e-blast, or a virtual guide, we’re talking about email newsletters here! For your very first one, make it count. And make each and every email you send after that count, too. People will only subscribe if they are getting something they value, like insider-info, niche content, inspiration, discounts (industry-dependent) or great resources. So, to keep them coming back for more, your first intention should be to offer value each and every email. Depending on your business, an editorial style may be best- using pictures to share the news.
Here are a few great examples of email copywriting by industry.
Retail | Article’s newsletter says a lot with images.
Marketing | Dish it Out Social hypes their download to capture email addresses.
Home Decor | Apartment Therapy offers a ton of design tips.
How consistent should you be?
I recommend at least 2x/month. Many experts say weekly but I honestly don’t think that’s necessary.
Finally, how to create an email that people want to read?
Keep it short and sweet: Your subject line should be under 50 characters
Your subject needs to represent the value inside. It’s also helpful to use action words, like “Open up to see what you missed!” vs. “Here’s what you missed…”
People want to read emails that feel approachable and friendly, so stick with a personal and casual tone.
The best way to avoid the SPAM filter is to NOT use words like “FREE” or “URGENT” as they are usually associated with spam.
Make them personal. In your greeting, use the first name, like: “Hey Hilary, I’m excited to share this with you…” vs. “Hey there, I’m excited to share this with you..”
Edit and then edit again. Typos or other grammatical errors are just plain bad for your brand.
List building can be a really enjoyable process, especially if you like to write and if your community is central to your business. I hope this list of tips helps get you started. And of course, iIf you’re looking for support with launching and growing your email list, our team is here to help you! Connect with us to learn more.