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Building an Email List

Building an email list may appear as a daunting task, but in actual fact it's one of the best channels out there to make yourself heard. For an email list to be built up successfully, it has to have the right combination of being engaging and useful and not too pushy or appear spam like.

Building the list
You need to ask yourself, who are my current customers and who are my potential customers. By doing so this will allow you to start building your list. Would your current customers be happy to see an email or even potential new customers?

You want to build your list organically, so that the audience attracted is there because they are interested in what you offer and not just there for a value proposition (such a paid email lists). To keep the reach organic, don't send too many emails per day or you may risk being seen as being annoying or a nuisance. You want the audience to look forward to hearing from your next email.

Getting People to Sign Up
In order to get people to sign up to your email list, you need to be able to communicate in a short as message as possible, what your value is and the benefit of them signing up. This is known as a call to action (CTA) which is a direct prompt to your audience to gain a response, in this case it's signing up for the email list. Think of it as a sales pitch, stay focused and don't waffle.

When it comes for them to actually sign up, this needs to be made as easy as possible, so think streamlined. Get the minimal amount of details off them possible and don't make a large form. Sites like Mailchimp have form builders, so that process can be made quite simple and effective. There should always be an option on the form for them to say no too, you don't want to come across pushy or you'll risk pushing them away.

Where Should the Sign Up Message Appear?
A lot of sites tend to have a pop up that appears on screen, that says something along the lines of 'sign up to my mailing list!' and asks for your email and sometimes your name. Other sites don't have this appear on their home page but rather elsewhere, such as a blog or when signing up to the site itself. This is because people don't always understand straight away the purpose of a site or what they'll gain from it, so can be hesitant on whether to sign up straight away.

How to Know Where will Work Best
Split testing can be carried out, this is where you try different combinations of placing the sign up on your site and then seeing which combinations provided the best conversation rate, giving the most sign ups.

Example:
A sign up on the home page and a sign up on the blog
vs
A sign up when people sign up to the site or purchase from the site

Before starting up an email list or campaign, you should ensure you comply with the email marketting laws. The likelyhood is that you're not breaking any of the laws, but it can be useful to be aware of just what these laws consist of.

Here are a few ideas to help you think about content placement of your sign up and getting people to sign up:

  • Social Media - Do you have a profile on all of the different social media sites relating to your service?
  • Website - This can host splash screens, landing pages, home pages, blogs, e-commerce and more. They provide several good spots for adding a sign up to.
  • Evaluate current content - Is the content potential new sign ups will see interesting? Is it enough to make them want more? Is it also enough to retain your current customers?
  • Think about future content - If you want those subscribers to stick around then you need to ensure you always have new and interesting content, if you dwindle in content the chances are your subscribers will leave.

In order for your social media and websites to work, they need to be engaging, this will then allow your CTA's to have a higher success rate as your content will draw people in. This relates to having a good [content and social media strategy](http://link to talking strategy).

Post frequently, be interactive, timely and useful.

Items such as cheat sheets or infographics are a great way of bringing people in too. All of the content can then be linked into your email campaign and click through brings them directly to that content, which is why it is so important that the content itself should have those characteristics as stated above.

What strategies are you using to build your email list? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Paul Halliday

Progress Telerik Developer Expert. Course author with students in 110+ countries. BSc (Hons) Computer Science @ UoS. Google accredited Mobile Site professional.

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