The dos and don'ts of email marketing lists

The dos and don'ts of email marketing lists
Minal Patel
Minal PatelMarketing by Minal

Posted: Fri 23rd Feb 2024

As a small business owner, you're constantly looking for effective ways to reach your audience and grow your brand. One of the most powerful tools at your disposal is an email list.

Unlike social media, where algorithms dictate your reach, an email list offers direct contact with your customers and potential clients. However, the thought of building an email list from scratch can seem daunting.

I've got you! This guide is designed to simplify the process and give you practical steps to establish your very first email list, setting a solid foundation for your digital marketing efforts.

Understanding the basics of email lists

What is an email list?

At its core, an email list is a collection of email addresses gathered from people who have expressed interest in your products or services. It's a direct line to your audience, allowing you to share updates, insights and promotional material straight to their inbox.

Why is it important for small businesses?

An email list is more than just a marketing tool, it's an asset. It offers several advantages:

  • Direct communication: You can talk to your audience without the interference of social media algorithms

  • Cost-effective: Email marketing is known for its high return on investment (ROI). It's inexpensive yet effective

  • Personalisation: Emails can be tailored to address the specific needs and interests of your audience, fostering a sense of connection

  • Measurable results: Email marketing platforms provide insights into how your emails are performing, letting you refine your strategy over time

Watch this webinar for top tips on creating great email marketing copy:

Getting started: Steps to build your first email list

Building an email list is a strategic process that involves more than just compiling addresses. It's about understanding where and how to engage with your potential subscribers. Let's break down these steps to effectively grow your list.

1. Choosing the right email marketing platform

Before you start gathering email addresses, you need a reliable platform to manage your list. Options like Constant Contact, Mailchimp, and Mailerlite are popular choices. Look for features like easy sign-up form creation, automation capabilities and detailed analytics.

2. Creating enticing opt-in offers

To encourage people to join your list, you need to offer something valuable in return. This could be an exclusive discount, informative eBook or access to webinars. The key is ensuring your offer meets your audience’s interests and needs.

3. Setting expectations: The 'how' of asking

When asking people to subscribe, clarity is important. Clearly state what they will receive and how often they will hear from you. This transparency builds trust and sets the right expectations, reducing the likelihood of subscribers opting out due to unexpected content or frequency.

4. Promoting your sign-up form: The 'where' of asking

Your sign-up form should be visible in all the places your target audience hangs out:

  • Online: Add the sign-up form on your website, blog and social media platforms. Use pop-ups or dedicated landing pages but ensure they are not annoying and are user-friendly

  • Offline: Don’t forget offline opportunities. If you attend networking events or run a physical store, have a QR code that directs to your online form

  • Email signature: Add a link to your sign-up form in your email signature. It’s a simple yet effective way to reach people you’re already communicating with

5. Designing effective sign-up forms

Your form should be simple. Ask for essential information only – usually, a name and email address suffice. When you ask for lots of information, you’re in danger of putting off potential subscribers. You can collect all the other stuff later!

Engaging your audience

Once you've started building your email list, the next crucial step is maintaining and deepening the engagement with your subscribers. Here’s how you can create content that resonates and keeps your audience interested.

Crafting compelling content

  • Understand your audience: Tailor your content to match the interests and needs of your subscribers. If you’re a home decor business, your emails might include interior design tips, product recommendations or exclusive sales

  • Be consistent but not overwhelming: Stick to the email frequency you promised. If you said weekly newsletters, ensure you deliver that without bombarding their inbox with daily emails

  • Quality over quantity: Each email should offer value. Whether it’s informative, entertaining or promotional, the content should be relevant and engaging

Personalising your emails

  • Segmentation: Group your subscribers based on their interests, purchase history or how they signed up. This helps you to send more targeted and relevant emails

  • Personal touch: Use their name in the email and tailor content based on their preferences. Personalised emails often see higher engagement rates

Encouraging interaction

  • Call-to-action (CTA): Your emails should always include a clear CTA, whether it’s visiting your website, taking advantage of a sale or simply replying to your email

  • Feedback and surveys: Encourage your subscribers to give feedback. This not only provides valuable insights but also makes them feel valued and heard

Measuring success and adjusting strategies

To continually improve your email marketing efforts, it’s important to track performance and adjust your strategies accordingly.

Key metrics to track

  • Open rates: Indicates how many people are opening your emails. Often, this will help you understand if you’re sending at a good time. Most opens happen within the first three hours of sending

  • Click-through rates (CTR): Shows how many subscribers are engaging with your content and CTAs. The more clicks you get, the more interesting that piece of content is

  • Unsubscribe rates: This helps you understand if your content is resonating with your audience. If you get a lot of unsubscribes after sending a particular email, it’s OK to assume the content wasn’t quite right

Starting the journey of building and nurturing an email list is much more than just a marketing tactic, it's about building lasting relationships with your customers.

For small business owners, this approach is invaluable. Your email list becomes a community of individuals who trust your brand and are interested in what you have to offer.

Remember, every email you send is an opportunity to deepen this connection. It's not just about immediate sales, it's about establishing a rapport, understanding your audience's needs, and providing them with value over time. This trust and loyalty eventually translate into sustained business growth.

So, take these initial steps towards building your first email list with confidence. It might seem challenging at first, but the rewards, both in terms of relationships and revenue, are well worth the effort. You’re not just growing a list; you're building a community around your brand.

Relevant resources

Minal Patel
Minal PatelMarketing by Minal
Is marketing a mystery to you? Well, I want to demystify it and help give your marketing more focus. Every business owner can do their own marketing if they need to, and I'll show you how.

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