Your list of contacts, those people who have agreed that you can email them, may be your most important online marketing tool. They are people who are interested to hear from you and email is still a consistent method of communication.
But how do you get people to sign up for your list? That’s the million-dollar question!
I will take you through the process that will allow you to get set up and able to collect email addresses on your business website. Let’s get started.
Checklist for collecting the emails of your target customer
Before you start this checklist, you’ll need a website and the skills, or a virtual assistant or web designer with the skills, to be able to work with some HTML code. It isn’t too complicated, but you’ll want to have some idea of what you’re doing.
1. Decide what you will send to people when you have their email address
What kind of content can you write or create that provides value to the people you’d like to work with?
If you’re running your own business or working as a freelancer, you should have an idea of what this is. Maybe it’s the kind of content you like to consume, or you’re the expert on a topic that people are interested to learn about.
Here are some ideas of content that you could send to the people on your list:
- Your latest blog post or article
- New updates from your industry or field
- Upcoming events you’ll be in or are of interest to your target customer
- Curated content (posts or articles that you collect into a newsletter format)
- Images or links to videos or podcasts that you create
You’ll need to establish this first before even thinking about collecting email addresses.
Keep in mind that the ideal type of content would be something that drives your contacts back to your website, like a blog post. In this way, you’ll get more visits to your website and in turn it will increase its rank in search results, therefore bringing more traffic and people who could sign up for your list.
This is an extremely simplified explanation of a complicated process, but it is worth it to get your contact list regularly coming back to your website.
2. Sign up for an email program
My suggestion is MailChimp. They have a robust free version that allows you to have up to 2,000 contacts and it’s easy to learn and use. It has a double-optin system to prevent spammers from signing up and millions of businesses already use it.
Back up suggestions are Vertical Response (up to 1,000 contacts in free plan) and MadMimi (up to 100 contacts in free plan). Though they have more limitations in contact numbers and features, they are simple to setup and get started with.
3. Set up your email program
Within your email program you’ll need to set up a list to which people can subscribe to. All email programs have them though they function differently.
- In MailChimp, they recommend that you have one main list and segment your list into smaller groups. You can only send to one list at a time, and the same email address in two lists is counted twice.
- In other programs, you can have multiple lists and they coordinate upon sending i.e. you can send emails to multiple lists and they ignore duplicate emails.
Don’t forget to brand your lists and emails!
In every email program, you can upload your logo, change colors and fonts and edit text. Do this! You’ll want people to experience and get to know your brand on your website and in your emails. Plus if you don’t change the colors, people may get confused about who they are signing up with.
4. Ask people you know personally to sign up and to share it with people they know who might be interested
Once you have a list, you’ll be provided a sign up form. Check out the signup form provided by MailChimp for my monthly newsletter.
As soon as this signup form is ready you can ask people to join your list.
First start with people you know: colleagues, friends, and family. It doesn’t hurt to get your mom and cousin on your list to give you some confidence at the beginning! 🙂
Send them a personal email, explain what they’ll receive (newsletter, curated content, a funny cartoon, a new blog post, etc.) if they sign up, and ask them to do so.
Then ask them to share it with others who may be interested. You have to start somewhere!
5. Share on social media and in every other place you can
Once you’ve asked people you know well, share it in as many other channels as possible. Share it on your Facebook personal profile and/or business page (whatever you’re comfortable with and makes sense to find your target customer) and on your other social media networks.
You can also put your sign up link in your email footer, in other online profile descriptions, and anywhere else a link can go.
Don’t forget to tell people what they should expect to receive from you and why it’s valuable. The worst thing you can say is “Sign up for my newsletter.” To me, I have no idea what I’ll be getting and it has no value to me. “No, thanks” and/or ignore.
6. Create a piece of content to give away for free
To really get people interested in hearing from you regularly, give them a sample of your expertise or the type of content you provide. Offer them a solution in the form of a freebie in exchange for their email address. This is also referred to as a “lead magnet” (as in a way to attract new leads.)
Many people may initially feel like this is bribing people to join your mailing list, but what you’re doing is providing something of value that allows that person to get to know you, your business and your style.
If they are interested in your free content, then most likely they’ll be interested to hear from you regularly.
Here are some ideas of content that works well as a freebie, but remember to keep it short and to the point, and don’t give away all of your secrets and knowledge in this one document!
- Short e-book
- Checklist to get something done
- PDF workbook
- A recorded webinar
- Curated list of resources
- Case study
- Resource list or document
- Cheat sheet on a specific topic
7. Put a sign up form on your website in multiple locations
Once you have your free piece of content, you’ll need to get it set up in your list. This means that through a “welcome” email once somebody signs up they can receive that piece of content. That’s the easiest way to deliver their free thing.
Now, it’s time to get the signup form on your website installed.
There are many places you can install the signup form, here are my suggestions:
- On the sidebar if you have a blog-style homepage on your website
- In the footer of your website
- At the end of every blog post (if you have a blog; see mine at the end of this blog post)
- As a popup
- As a form that slides up at the bottom of the screen
- In a bar at the top of your website
- On a landing page by itself, so you can share it on social media (like my “Ultimate Checklist for Amazing Blog Posts” printable landing page)
On most websites you can easily copy and paste the signup form HTML into an embed box or you can use a plugin to set up the form. This is where you may need some technical help if that’s not your expertise.
It doesn’t hurt to have your signup form in multiple locations as you never know how someone might arrive on your website or what they’ll see.
Craft short but enticing call-to-actions to get people to sign up, and don’t forget to tell them what they’ll be receiving and how often (ex: daily, monthly, occasionally.)
8. Consistently create and send valuable content
This will be the hardest part of this whole process!
Once you have a list of subscribers, whether it is 10 people or 10,000 people, it’s really important to keep writing to them, consistently. This is a way of reminding them that you’re there, providing useful and valuable content, and eventually selling to them.
It takes work and dedication to produce content on a regular basis so start where you feel comfortable and adjust to more or less based on your readers’ feedback and your own personal schedule.
Don’t be shy, modest, or worry too much
Remember that these people WANT to hear from you. They signed up voluntarily and find your content, opinions, knowledge or humor valuable.
People also like to know what to expect: if you tell them you’ll email them weekly, make sure you email them weekly. If you tell them you’ll email them quarterly, make sure you email them quarterly. It will do wonders to your brand and reputation if you stick to your word.
And don’t worry if you miss a week or need to change schedules, but inform your contacts and be honest. People may unsubscribe and that’s OK, but I’m sure there will be many that stick around!
Which step in this process is preventing you from starting your list?
Let me know in the comments below so I can offer some suggestions to help you break the procrastination, no-skills-excuse, or brainstorming barrier and get started building your contact list.