5 Steps for Starting an Email List

If email marketing isn’t a part of your strategy, you’re missing out on an opportunity to attract new leads and nurture the individuals who are currently in your pipeline. Building an email list isn’t as much of an undertaking as you might think it is, either – going through the setup process now and then dedicating time to writing and sending 1-2 newsletters per month is all it takes!

If you’re ready to start an email list for your company, or even if you currently have an email list but have been ignoring it, follow this guide below and learn why it’s so important to have one. And, if you’re a newbie to email marketing (no shame here!), be sure to follow this list of email marketing terms to know.

Pick Your Provider

There are an endless amount of email marketing providers to use that all offer different price points, features, and user experiences. It’s all about finding a provider that fits within your budget, includes the features you need for your email marketing program, and makes it easy for you or your team to navigate and use if you’re unable to hire a professional.

What are our top choices? We’ve used quite a few over the years but have come to know and love the following:

Keep in mind that what works for someone else may not work for you, and that’s okay. Everyone’s needs are different, so it’s important to find the best provider that will meet those needs. You may also need to test a few providers before you find the right one to stick with, which is actually a good thing! What if you were to immediately stick with the first provider you tried and didn’t even realize that there’s a better one out there for you?

Shopping around and diving into some trial and error is normal, so don’t be afraid to do it.

Gather and Organize Your Contacts

If any part of starting your email list is going to require a lot of your time, it’s collecting and organizing your contacts. As you begin to pull together your list, it’s important to be mindful of which emails you’re allowed to add to your list and which emails you’re not. Just because you’ve emailed someone before doesn’t mean they gave you permission to send them marketing emails! Be sure to clean out your list as well so that you’re only communicating with people who are going to actively open your emails. If you’re wondering how to know whether you have email permissions for an address or not, follow this guide that shares examples of compliant and non-compliant lists so you don’t run the risk of getting your account marked as spam.

Once you have your list of emails, organize them through segments, groups, or tags so you have the capability to send targeted emails instead of sending emails to your entire list when the email might not be relevant for everyone. The tags you have will depend on your business and how you plan to use email marketing, but these are some examples you might want to follow:

  • Clients
  • Leads
  • Contacts who came from a certain lead magnet
  • Industry

This list will likely evolve over time, so it’s okay if you need to do some rearranging in the future.

Create Your Lead Magnet and Promote It

What’s an easy way to grow your email list? Create a lead magnet! A lead magnet is a free resource that you can offer to your audience, which they sign up to receive via email. When they sign up for the lead magnet, they receive the free resource, and you receive their email address, therefore growing your list. It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

What are examples of lead magnets to create for your business?

  • Whitepapers
  • Webinars
  • E-books
  • Quizzes
  • Guides

The format of your lead magnet should depend on the content of the lead magnet, but it should also depend on how your audience likes to consume content. If they prefer to watch videos rather than read whitepapers, focus on creating video content. If they prefer to download a guide that they can hold onto and refer back to at any time rather than sit through an hour-long webinar, focus on creating tangible PDFs. You may want to add a mix of formats, too!

Once you create your lead magnet, don’t stop there. Your audience will need to know it exists before they can sign up for it, so consider promoting it by:

  • Adding it to various spots on your website
  • Creating social media posts about it
  • Linking to it in relevant blog posts

The more you promote the freebie, the more people will sign up for it and help grow your list.

Send Monthly Newsletters

Your work isn’t done once you create your email list – now you have to make sure that you actually use it! The number of newsletters you send each month largely depends on how much content you have to share and how much time you have to write the newsletters, but start with a minimum of one newsletter per month and work your way up if need be.

If you’re looking for content ideas to include in your newsletters, here are a few:

  • Recent blog posts
  • New press features
  • Tips / FAQs
  • Company updates

As you’re writing your newsletter, ask yourself, “What type of information would be something that our subscribers would actually want to read?”

Pick the most interesting and helpful points and content to include in your newsletter. Don’t forget to include links to other places and a call-to-action (CTA) to sign up for a consultation with you, too!

Analyze Results and Run Tests

Sending a newsletter is great… but knowing that your newsletter performed well is even better. Avoid sending a newsletter just to send a newsletter and instead, be sure to pay close attention to your analytics to know how it performed and get an idea of what type of content you can include in future newsletters.

Analytics you’ll want to reference include:

  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate
  • Unsubscribe rate
  • Sales (if e-commerce)

Having an understanding of whether or not your strategy is working will allow you to take a proactive rather than reactive approach with your email marketing.

Are you ready to revive your old email list or start one from scratch? Leave any questions you might have in the comments below!

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