Magic words, no? Your potential clients, waiting with baited breath to hear what you’re about to say – your latest blog entry, a press release, your innovative product offerings.
You may have visitors on your site, but they drift on and off. You have no way of reaching them directly on your schedule, or controlling how they view your site, which pages to dwell upon and how they move from one piece of information to another. As it stands, it’s “don’t call us; we’ll call you.”
An email list is “Call us!” When site visitors opt to sign up for your email list, they are awarding you a direct line of communication to their coveted inbox.
If you don’t have an email list, you’re letting visitors (and current clients!) drift away without offering them a way to stay in touch – that’s a shame. What a missed opportunity.
Today we’ll discuss how to remedy that. How to get started building your email list – your captive audience.
(The only caveat here is that just like any captive audience, they can tune out. They can sign up and then ignore your emails, delete them – or worse – block them – and you end up sending your newsletter to the big archive in the sky. But we’ll be optimistic – and we’ll give you some tips to avoid that situation.)
Step 1. Sign up with an email list management system.
There are plenty of those out there. Some of the more popular (and cost effective) include:
Some have free plans (Mailchimp and Madmimi) and some have free or low cost trials (Aweber and Constant Contact).
Step 2. How are you going to motivate people to opt in?
Your amazing content, of course! Won’t they want to sign up to get all the latest blog posts right to their inbox?
But probably not.
The best way to tempt a current (or potential) client to invite you into his inbox is to offer something he wants in return. A content rich, free, downloadable e-Book, whitepaper, video or webinar will suffice. Note that I specifically did not say “promotional piece” “advertorial” or “advertisement.” We’re talking about genuine, valuable knowledge that your client wants.
Post a sign-up form for your downloadable offering on your homepage, on your blog sidebar and in your email signature. The payoff (for the visitor in exchange for his email address) is receiving access to your free download – and, as a side benefit, also be signed up for your tips and posts via email.
Take some time to think through this. What free gift would entice your ideal client to sign up? An e-Book on a particular topic? A recording of a seminar? A how-to guide? Webinar? What do your potential clients need?
Once you have your bait… err… gift…
Step 3. Create your subscribe form.
All email management programs (the one you signed up for – be it aWeber, MadMimi, ConstantContact or MailChimp) should have form builders. Make it both visually appealing and conceptually appealing. Use words that will motivate your potential subscribers – tell them what they’re going to gain from your free gift and updates.
Test different versions of your subscription form to see what works best – this handy guide and video from the Blog Tyrant can help give you ideas.
When you set up your email distribution list, think about how you’re going to deliver your free gift to your subscribers. Usually, a link in the first automatically generated response to any sign-up can take the new subscriber to a page where they can view, hear or download your gift.
Step 4. Keep those emails a-coming!
Hopefully you have subscribers signing up at an alarming rate – or at least a reassuring one. If that’s not the case, don’t panic. Just keep tweaking – the form, the free offering. No one ever said that there’s anything wrong with trial and error.
Once you do have your subscribers – make sure you keep them close! Send quality content (again, not self promotional garbage! That’s a one way ticket to the spam button) that is genuinely helpful once every week or two. Personalize the emails and email subjects with the recipient’s name (there’s usually a field for that in your email management programs).
Dan Zarrella’s webinar on The Science of Email Marketing has some great, data-analysis-based tips on when and how to send your emails – well-worth a look.
Make sure the majority of your emails contain a call-to-action. Yours can be commenting on the blog post, registering for a webinar or signing up for another one of your offers. Keep them interested, keep them engaged, keep them involved, and KEEP your customers.
About the Author
Hilary is the Marketing Director of Virtual Assistant Israel, a leading boutique Virtual Assistant firm. Based in Israel and serving clients throughout Europe and the United States, VAI employs American professionals who specialize in marketing, writing, administration and social media. All the employees are educated, experienced and available on a part time basis. Each has an American phone line and works American hours. You can hire a Virtual Assistant without a long term contract, purchasing blocks of pre-paid time, or scary cancellation fees.