Ask any experienced online marketer what activity is most vital to their business and they’ll most often say “growing [+ nurturing] my email list.”
Your email list is going to be your MVA (most valuable asset)- and it’s not just for the emails you’ll send out to your list. You can use this list to run smartly targeted ads – either through Google, Facebook, Instagram or whichever social media platforms open up to advertisers.
And it’s not just online marketers who are prizing email addresses- it’s big box retailers, small businesses with a physical location, pretty much anyone selling anything or any service SHOULD be devoting a good chunk of their marketing time/effort/money on consistently growing their email list.
Keep in mind, though, as with most things, you should value QUALITY over quantity (which is why it’s never ever ever a good idea to buy email lists). You don’t just want anyone to be on your email list – after all, the more you have on your list, the more you’re going to have to pay your email marketing service provider.
You want folks who sign up to have a genuine interest/need for your product or service.
Why? Because someone who doesn’t have a genuine interest or need for your product or service is NOT going to buy from you. It’s just plain common sense.
Wondering what you need to get the right kind of people on your email list?
If you sell digital products (think online courses, e-books, anything that can be delivered digitally), then I’d recommend going with Kajabi for just about everything on this list – more on that at the bottom of this blog post.
No matter WHAT you sell if you want to know what tools are most helpful for intelligently grow your email list, read on…
#1: An official Email Marketing Service
You can’t build a list without an email marketing service – and no, using a Gmail or Yahoo account won’t cut it. You’ll need a reputable Email Marketing Service to house your list and keep you in line with anti-spam laws. It will also allow you to create beautifully designed emails, deliver them and track those who open them.
Wondering what the heck a drip or auto-responder campaign is? It’s a series of emails that are all automatically set up by the sender to go out once someone signs up to be on your email list. If you’ve ever signed up to be on a company’s email list, chances are you’ve been on a drip/auto-responder campaign.
Typically (and ideally IMHO) most of these emails shouldn’t be selling you something. Rather, the sender will be providing valuable content related to their product/service every few days. These are designed to build up the “know, like and trust” factor so that when they do eventually send out the “sales email” (usually at the very end of 1-2 week long series of emails), you’ll be more likely to buy. Pretty smart, right?
If you’re a network marketer that has been set up with a messaging service through your company, I would still advise you to pony up for your own email marketing service. This way if you ever change companies, start your own venture or the company shuts down, your list will be in your hands. Even if you don’t have any plans to head elsewhere, emails sent from an email marketing service will probably wind up looking better than those sent via your company’s messaging service.
If you’re on a super-tight budget, the good news is many popular email marketing services offer free trials. Each has their own pros and cons so if you can get a free trial to check them out and see how user-friendly it is for you, go for it. Better still? If you’re starting out with ZERO on your email list, you’ll pay the rock bottom price with each email marketing service. The smaller the list, the less you’ll pay.
I’ve used a couple of different email marketing service providers over the past 6 years in business and I’ve got to say ActiveCampaign has been, hands down, the best of the bunch. You get a lot of a bang for your buck and can even build more complex auto-responder campaigns that kick in when a subscriber takes a certain action (i.e. clicks on a link in your email).
Special bonus awesome sauce tip: if your home IS your business location, get a PO Box. You’ll need an address to be posted on your emails so unless you want everyone on your list to know where you live, you’re gonna want to pay for that PO Box.
#2: Knowing what your ideal clients want + need
These days, you’ve got to GIVE to get…emails, that is. The promise of a newsletter won’t be as enticing as something of real value delivered right now.
You need a lead magnet that’ll appeal to your ideal customer.
Something that they can use and get value from quickly- whether it’s providing a solution to a problem encountered by your ideal client relating to your product or service or a step-by-step how to walking them through how to achieve something they want/need. Something that will get them to fork over their email address in exchange for whatever you’re offering.
Need to get ideas? Look to industry leaders for inspiration AND get feedback from your existing customers & prospects. Build a quick survey on Typeform or GoogleDocs to learn more about your customers & their needs. Use this feedback as a springboard for ideas.
Pay attention to frequently asked questions in message boards, Facebook groups & blog comments relating to your industry. These are a gold mine for lead magnet ideas! Simply figure out a way (whether it be a short e-book/pdf, webinar, video training series, infographic etc.) to answer a question and BAM- a lead magnet idea is born.
#3: A lead magnet that DELIVERS what your ideals want + need
Now that you’ve got a great idea for serving your ideal clients’ wants/needs, it’s time to create a lead magnet to deliver those wants/needs on a beautiful platter. The most popular format for delivering lead magnets are e-books, resource guides, infographics and cheat sheets in a pdf. You can design your own for FREE at Canva.
Of course, if you’re all fancy with fancypants when it comes to PhotoShop + graphic design, that’s all fine and good. But I love how simple it is to create really attractive graphics with Canva!
You can also use Canva to create social media posts, banners, and ad images!
Don’t have time and/or design skills to confidently create one yourself? Find someone to do it for you. Of course, you’ve got to pay to outsource. Tight budgeted entrepreneurs often turn to Fiverr to find someone to do “it” for you- it being anything from formatting, design, video editing and beyond.
If you want to go a route other than the good ol’ pdf, you’ll need to create whatever it is your lead magnet will be- if it’s a video series, you’ll need to script it out, record and have your videos hosted somewhere (YouTube is a free choice but you could also host video on Wistia or Vimeo). For webinars, you’ll need to create a slide show presentation, schedule your webinar and be ready to rock it. Or you could keep it super simple and just offer a coupon/discount code.
It’s all up to you and what would BEST serve your ideal client.
#4: A reliable web host
Websites are your virtual storefront. I happen to think they’re absolutely essential – even if you’re a network marketer who has a “storefront” set up by your company, you need a website of your very own. It shows you are serious about your business and gives you an opportunity to showcase not just your products but YOU as your brand. It will help you to stand out among the thousands of other reps in your company.
If you’re setting up a website, you need a reliable host. Hosts provide storage space and access for websites.
If you think of your website as a virtual business, the host is like the land beneath you.
You want firm ground you can trust. You don’t want your site crashing at the mere visit of a dozen or so folks – and if it does crash or there are issues, you want a host that has kickass customer service you can contact anytime.
Don’t have a website up & running yet or not happy with your current host?
I use SiteGround for all 3 of my WordPress sites. Their customer service is AMAZING and you can get your site hosted for as low as $3.95/month. Their customer service has talked me through certain website issues that others would have ignored (or would have told me to hire a web developer to do it for me).
#5: An attractive Theme
Themes are what make your website pretty. Remember that house analogy above? Think of your theme as your front entrance – you want it to look Zoolander good (that is, really really really ridiculously good looking).
The WordPress theme will determine how your content looks + is displayed.
WordPress comes equipped with a bevy of options (most of which are, blessedly, free). However, what saves you money may wind up costing you time – there’s a learning curve to many and customizing can be a royal pain in the you-know-what. That’s why I went with the Divi Theme from Elegant Themes.
Divi is a simple to use theme that has loads of customization options. Membership is $69/year or lifetime for $249.
You’ll get access to a bevy of different theme options (including Divi) that you can pick and choose from. You can also opt for a Developers Membership and get access to some really cool plug-ins for email opt-ins, social sharing, and mobile optimization.
#6: A chock full of valuable content auto-responder campaign
Your lead magnet will determine whether you’ve got your ideal client’s interest. Your auto-responder campaign is your opportunity to dazzle. Think of this campaign as the all-important first date after being set up. You wouldn’t be asking to get serious (or even a second date) at the beginning of your first date, so why should you expect your prospect to whip out their credit card after just virtually meeting you?
You need to woo them. You need to show off your best stuff.
This is not the time to be stingy with your expertise.
If you’ve already got some pretty great content out there in the form of blog posts, YouTube videos, guest posts or podcast appearances (pretty much anywhere you’ve provided value designed with your ideal in mind), use them to weave into your auto-responder campaign.
Don’t have great content on hand? Get to crackin’ on creating it. You could even dive deeper into topics/tips you’ve touched upon into your lead magnet. You could alternatively use the content of others in a pinch- but I recommend crafting it yourself in your own authentic voice.
You want to not only show off your knowledge, but also your personality. Don’t be afraid to let the true you shine through in your email copy. REMEMBER: It’s not just your product or service your customers are buying into – it’s YOU! Unless you’ve created a true breakthrough in your market, chances are someone else is selling the exact same thing you are and the difference maker in where they buy is which seller they know, like and trust more.
A well-crafted, value-packed auto-responder campaign can turn email subscribers into buyers. And that’s what you’re aiming for, right?
#7: Crystal-clear Audio
If you’re going to offer a lead magnet in video format, host webinars or offer free video consults in exchange for someone’s email address, you need good, quality sound (and sadly, that doesn’t come standard with built-in audio for most cameras, smartphones, and desktops).
For computers ~ Blue Snowball microphone
For smartphones/iPhones- Rode SmartLav
You want your ideals to be able to hear what you’re saying- so a good microphone is a smart investment.
#8: Screencasting Software
Want to offer a value-packed slideshow presentation or over-the-shoulder type computer tutorial as your lead magnet or part of your autoresponder campaign?
You need to be able to screencast (that is, record your computer screen).
If you have a Mac, you can use the built-in application QuickTime on your Mac to record a screencast.
If you’d like more editing capabilities and bells and whistles, the general expert consensus is to get Screen Flow for Mac or Camtasia if you have a PC.
I personally recommend ponying up for screencasting software.
#9: A Plug-In Webcam
If you’d like to use a value-packed webinar as a lead magnet – and you’re not planning on hiding behind a screen share slide show presentation for the entire time- you need a good webcam to better show off that gorgeous face.
Just like with audio, the built-in webcams for most computers well, quite frankly, suck when it comes to hosting live video events and webinars. Get a quality webcam you can plug in.
#10: A captivating Lead Page
I’ve saved the very best (+ most important) piece for last. Want to improve your odds of getting someone’s email address in exchange for your lead magnet?
You’ll need an attractive “face” for that lead magnet- and that will be your lead page.
You can build one yourself on your website or even sometimes through your email marketing service- but this can be a complicated, time-sucking task (or, worse, lead to pretty blah looking lead pages).
There are many reasons so many online marketers use LeadPages! It’s ridiculously simple to use AND if you don’t want to spend the time & trouble on building your own website and paying for a host, you can skip it altogether and use LeadPages as a stand-alone lead generating machine. For reals!
Bonus Tip for those selling digital products (e-courses, e-books etc.)…
Simplify your online business with Kajabi. You can sell all your digital products on their platform and get #1, #2, #4, #5 and #10 from the list above all in ONE easy to use place. You’ll get email marketing (where you can build auto-responder campaigns and upsells easily), a form builder to help you determine what your ideals want/need, web hosting, themes and yes, the ability to build beautiful lead pages.
You’ll also get Stripe payment processing, Wistia video hosting and a host of other features that’ll save your business money AND save you the stress of piecing all things together on your own website.
Got your own tip for building a quality email list? Share in the comments below!