Building an email list for beginners - Wildbloom

Building an email list for beginners

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I have a confession to make… I’ve been a little silly. In all my blog posts, videos, emails and whatnot so far, I’ve been assuming that you know the basics of email marketing. For some of you, when I’m yabbering on about building an email list and nurturing your subscribers, I may as well be speaking Greek. So, this post is taking it back to email marketing basics with building an email list for beginners.

Earlier this week, I received an unsolicited email from a new business, announcing that they had just launched. Few things grind my gears as much as unsolicited emails in my business inbox, so the poor sender was on the receiving end of my pre-coffee Monday-itis. If you’re reading this, I apologise if my response was a little too sassy.

For many, starting a business goes something like this:

1. New Biz Nellie launches her website into the world with big expectations
2. She waits for sales
3. The crickets have a fiesta
4. Nellie then Googles “How to get sales”

Old mate Google simply replies “build a bloody email list already” (probably in slightly more eloquent terms). So, New Biz Nellie goes and compiles a list of emails from anywhere she can get them, uploads them into her free MailChimp account and sends out an email blast to a few hundred unsuspecting people.

Nellie’s expectations? That she’s going to sell hundreds of products; that they’re literally going to fly off the shelves of her spare-bedroom closet. The reality? Hundreds of grumpy people who will now avoid buying from her brand on purpose.

All jokes aside, email spam is not only illegal, it’s also damaging to your brand and your email deliverability (i.e. the thing that determines whether you land in inboxes or the junk mail folder).

So, how on earth do you build your email list then? Surely building an email list is hard, right? Wrong.

Yes, it might take some time to build a solid list, but it will be worth it. Trust me.

Step 0: Sign up for an email marketing app

We use and LOVE ActiveCampaign for our email marketing as it has all the features we need. We used to use Mailchimp, but found it was missing a few key functionalities.

Visit my guide to the best marketing tools for small business.

Step 1: You create an offer

Back in the good old days (circa 2006), people would hand over their email address willy nilly. “You say I’ve won the green card lottery? Take my email address!” … “My long-lost Nigerian third cousin twice removed left me a huge inheritance?! Here, have my email!”

Time-machine forward t0 2018 and we’re all savvy sausages now. We know that our email address is precious; we know that marketers want to get their grubby paws on it.

It takes a little more incentive to convince us to hand over our email address.

Here’s the thing: Your audience is far more likely to give you their email if they’re getting something in return. By this, I mean something good. 5% off a future purchase probably won’t cut it.

A free ebook? Yes, please. Free webinar? Sure thing. Free $5 voucher to spend on your $1,000 handbags? Um, no.

Step 2: Drive bucketloads of traffic to your offer

Because, if you create an offer and don’t tell anyone about it, you may as well not have created it in the first place. It’s that simple.

Not sure where to find your traffic? A good place to start is this blog post (and while you’re there, our free ebook will set you off on the right track).

Facebook Ads are a great way to drive people to your offer. Oh, and did I mention we’re running a free 5-Day Facebook Ads Challenge starting 5th March? It’s perfect for businesses of all shapes and sizes, regardless of whether you’ve used Facebook Ads before or not.

Pop your deets in the box below to join.

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Step 3: Once they’ve signed up, nurture them

So, you’ve put in the hard yards and your email list is starting to look a little meatier? Well done.

Sorry, but the hard work doesn’t stop there.

You now need to spend a little time nurturing your email list. Treat them how you’d treat a friend. I don’t know about you, but I’d be pretty offended if a friend went AWOL, only to message me 3 months later asking for a favour.

It’s simple; don’t build an email list and leave it to gather dust until the next time you want to sell them something.

It shows your subscribers that you don’t value them, and they’ll have no reason to buy from you because they don’t know, love and trust you yet. On top of this, many will forget they signed up in the first place and, as a result, possibly report you as spam.

Repeat after me: Being reported as spam hurts your email deliverability.

How do you nurture your subscribers?

When they sign up, send them 3-5 automated nurture emails that add value and start building trust. It could be some links to useful blog posts, it could be you sharing your story with them (and asking them to share theirs with you), or it could be a mini-course delivered via email. Anything that gives them value, without immediately asking for a sale, will work.

Make a point of sending regular emails to your list, packed with value of some kind – be it a blog post, insider tips and tricks, or even a round-up of your favourite (relevant) blog posts on the internet. It doesn’t have to be weekly. Consistency is key here; you’re better off consistently sending a fortnightly email than sending 3 in one week and then nothing for 2 months.

4. Don’t only send sales-y emails

If the only time you email your list is to sell them something, you’re doing it wrong – and your hard-earned subscribers will be hitting ‘unsubscribe’ quicker than you can say “buy me!”

Anyone who is on our email list will know that I send a hell of a lot of valuable content and rarely sell anything via email. But, is there such thing as giving away too much for free? Digital Marketer (a leading online authority on, well, digital marketing) says that brands who give away too much free stuff can get friend-zoned.

Don’t be that guy or gal who never asks for a sale. After all, your list is valuable – there are people on there who trust you, love you and actually want to buy from you.

The take-away? Don’t overcomplicate it

Building and nurturing an email list is easy peasy, melon squeezy. If anyone tells you otherwise, or tries to complicate it by teaching you their secret tactics or “hack”, I want you to take their hack and tell them where they can shove it.

It’s one of the most important parts of marketing your online business and, if you overcomplicate it, you’re only going to overwhelm yourself. Where does overwhelm lead to? It leads to afternoons spent bingeing on Riverdale whilst comfort-eating chocolate by the block and feeling like you’re not cut out for this business thing-a-ma-bob. We’ve all been there and it’s not a happy place.

Don’t forget to tell the world about your offer

Remember, once you’ve created your offer, you need to shout it from the rooftops.

Facebook Ads are a great way to get new people onto your email list. If you’re a bit scared (read: petrified) of venturing past boosted posts and into Ads Manager, you shouldn’t be. We’re here to make it easy for you.

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