An email list is one of those things you know that you need, but don’t know where to start.
I know you feel overwhelmed, and everything sounds so complicated.
You think to yourself:
Oh, I’m going to start working on my email list when I’m more established…
But let me tell you one thing:
You need to start working on an email list today, and not tomorrow or next year!
Because I know how much email marketing can be a struggle for newbie bloggers, I wanted to create a guide that would cover all the bases.
Once you’re done reading this blog post, you’ll have all the information you need to create an email list.
So, let’s jump right in!
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What Is An Email List?
Okay, before we get to all the nitty-gritty details of starting an email list, let’s briefly discuss precisely what it is and why you need it.
To put it very simply:
An email list is a collection of emails (ideally from your target audience) that you collect via your blog and a website.
Small bloggers, online entrepreneurs, and huge corporations can all have and use an email list.
For example, every time you visit your favorite shop and see a pop-up inviting you to get on a newsletter list and get a discount is a way to get on that company’s email list.
An email list is valuable for every business, large or small, because it has a larger ROI (return on investment) than any other marketing channel.
According to the latest stats, for every $1 invested, you get $42 dollars in return.
If you have been waiting for a better day to start your email list, let me tell you, friend, you have been missing out!
3 Reasons Why You Need An Email List
Let me give you even more reasons to start an email list ASAP as a blogger.
#1: Your Email List Is Where The Sales Are Happening
Let me explain how it works:
If you’re a blogger or online entrepreneur who sells services or online courses, most of your sales will happen in your email list.
And it happens purely because when people sign up to your email list and start receiving welcoming emails from you, they’re becoming more invested into your brand.
You can warm them up before you pitch a sale to your product or service way more efficiently.
With other marketing channels like social media, for example, it doesn’t work as efficiently.
There are exceptions, of course:
If you’re a huge influencer in the beauty industry, then people are automatically looking for your beauty advice.
They’re there to seek products so they’ll be more easily convinced to buy from you.
And also, products that you recommend as a huge beauty influencer are cheaper, so they don’t require planning, and most often than not, they turn out to be spontaneous purchases.
If you’re a small blogger selling a $200 course, your product requires more planning and warming up than a $40 foundation.
Your email list is at the tip of your sales funnel, and it’s how you’ll be making the majority of your sales.
#2: It’s An Easy Way To Keep Your Audience Updated On What Is Going On With Your Company
Another reason why you need an email list is that it allows you to update your audience quickly.
Not everyone will follow you on all different social media platforms, and not everyone will read your blog.
However, everyone checks their emails daily, so you can simply send out one email to your list, and you’re covered.
Yes, of course, not everyone will open and read that email, but those who will matter for your brand the most.
#3: It’s Your Chance To Communicate With Your Audience And Build A More Personal Relationship
This last reason is crucial:
Email is a very intimate and personal way to communicate with your audience.
While it might not look like it at first, and we tend to feel like social media is the most intimate way to communicate, email is very personal.
People are usually cautious about their email inboxes and what reaches them.
That’s why you won’t find people’s emails as easily as their social media profiles.
And people are looking at their emails more seriously than social media platforms where they go to chill and relax and see how their friends or favorite influencers are doing…
…Or scroll mindlessly for hours because real-world sucks at the moment and they just need an escape…
Either way, email is where you want to build the most meaningful connections with your audience.
A Quick Note About Legal Stuff And The Spam Folder
You’ve probably heard about the GDPR regulations and laws and how they changed the internet a few years back.
It’s essential to know all that legal mumbo-jumbo if you’re going to collect people’s emails as they’re regarded as sensitive personal data.
Now, I’m not a legal advisor, and I don’t have any experience talking about it, so I recommend you take a look yourself at these resources I’ve looked at myself and get yourself familiar with what you can and cannot do.
Here is a great article explaining how GDPR affects your email marketing:
And here is all the legal information you might need from the official source:
It’s essential to educate yourself and be responsible for the way you handle very sensitive data of your audience, so do spend time learning and following the rules on this one.
(This is probably the only instance where I tell you that it’s essential to follow the rules…)
Note about spam:
There is absolutely no use for your email marketing efforts if your emails are going to end up in the spam folder.
There are certain things and rules (oh, once again rules!) you have to follow to ensure that your emails don’t end up being marked as spam, but you can read more about it here.
One thing I can tell you you must do is to enable the double opt-in option with your email marketing tool.
This will give you better chances at safely landing in people’s inbox and not spam as they confirm that they want to receive emails from you.
6 Easy Steps to Start Using Email Marketing And Build An Email List
It’s time we get to the good part and start talking about how to build an email list, even if you’re a total beginner. Here is my strategy.
#1: Create An Email Marketing Strategy
Tell me honestly:
Are you surprised that #1 on my list is to create a strategy?
I mean, if you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that I’m a massive fan of having a strategy and a plan for everything.
Email marketing is no exception.
Before you go and pick software to collect the emails and create a lead magnet, you need to determine why you want to start an email list, what are your goals and how are you going to achieve them.
You already know that you need an email list, right? We already determined that at the beginning of this post.
But now, you need to know your personal business reason; what will be the purpose of you having an email list.
If you want to have it just to have it, it’s not going to be effective, and it won’t even probably grow.
Do you want to have an exclusive newsletter where you give your secrets away?
Do you have a massive launch coming up and want to grow an email list to make it successful?
Are you planning on sending one email a year only as then it might not be worth it…
You see, you need to have a solid goal in mind for your email list.
Another thing you need to consider when it comes to your strategy is what type of content you’re planning on posting there.
I know I struggled when I was starting my first email list with that.
I had accumulated 500 emails in a few short months, but I had no idea what content I was supposed to be sending out, so I didn’t send anything.
That email list ended up being useless as I left it for too long, and people have forgotten why they even signed up to.
So, don’t make the same mistake I made and prepare your content plan in advance.
There is no wrong or right answer when it comes to content that you choose to email your audience.
The only thing that matters is that the content is valuable.
Think about things that would benefit your audience and then make a plan.
I have a free content calendar template that I use myself, and there I have included a section for email list planning.
I recommend you get the copy for yourself, it’s totally free, and it will help you plan your email content easier and fit the rest of your brand’s strategy.
Grab your copy here.
#2: Give People A Reason To Subscribe – Create A Lead Magnet
The next step in your email marketing journey is to create an offer that would give people a reason to subscribe to your list.
As I’ve mentioned at the beginning of this post, an email address is a personal and sensitive information, and people tend to be careful with whom they give it.
If you think that saying ‘Join my newsletter for weekly news’ is enough, you’re fooling yourself.
Unless you’re The New York Times or The Washington Post, no one wants to read your weekly news.
Nothing personal, it’s just that people are already bombarded with tons of information every day, they don’t need another Newsletter.
So, if you want to attract the right people to your list and grow fast, you need to develop a strong lead magnet (aka a freebie).
What type of freebie you’ll choose to create is entirely up to you.
I, for example, have two lead magnets on my website at the moment.
The first being my free content calendar template:
And the second being my free 30 days of the Instagram content calendar:
These two freebies are designed to attract only my ideal audience to my list.
So, when you’re creating a freebie for your audience, you have to think about what would be useful.
For example, if you’re a health coach, you might want to go with one of these ideas:
- Healthy pantry and fridge checklist
- 7-day meal prepping guide
- A how-to guide on meditation
All these ideas are just quick examples I was able to come up with just now, and they all fit into what your ideal audience would be looking for.
Madeleine Shaw is an excellent example of this. She’s a health expert, and this is a freebie she has on her website:
At first, she offers the generic, sign up for my newsletter (but even then she names the things you’ll be getting, which is a bonus).
And then she adds that if you sing up, you’ll receive her free recipe ebook.
This is the incentive that makes people want to sign up as they know they’ll be getting exclusive health advice from her straight into their mailbox.
There are so many different lead magnets ideas you can choose from. I actually have written a post about seven effective lead magnet ideas, I recommend you check it out here.
#3: Choose An Email Marketing Software
The next step in starting to use email marketing in your marketing strategy is to choose the software you’ll use to collect, store, and send emails.
Now, there is plenty of software available to choose from.
All of them are great and can offer you the same thing (with small adjustments, of course), and it’s just a matter of preference and price range.
I know that you’ve probably seen so many bloggers, and people around the internet recommend the CovertKit software.
CovertKit for email marketing is like Bluehost for website hosting, everyone seems to be recommending it, and everyone seems to have an affiliate link for it.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t see anything wrong with affiliate links (I’ve used them in the past, and I use them now), but I have to mention other software.
And in my humble opinion, SiteGround kicks Bluehost’s ass!
Here is a list of some of the most popular email marketing tools and how they compare to each other:
The thing to remember:
When you choose an email marketing tool, it doesn’t mean you have to stick with it forever.
If you don’t like one tool and want to change to another when you start growing, you can easily switch and take your email list with you.
So, when you’re first choosing a tool to use, don’t stress too much about picking the perfect one.
You can always adjust later.
Start by picking the one that is good for you right now.
Now, I’m going to be honest, my personal favorite is MailerLite, and that’s the one I’ve used for a few years.
It’s my favorite because it’s straightforward to use, I love their email designing tool and their landing page builder.
Also, it’s effortless to integrate their banners and pop-up into my blog, so it’s a win for me.
I think that MailChimp might be a bit too complicated if you’re new, I know it was for me, so I don’t recommend it.
However, it’s always best if you go and try different things and see what works the best for you personally.
#4: Optimize Your Website To Build Your List
Once you have created a strong lead magnet and chose your email marketing tool to use, it’s time to get to work.
If you have a website (I fucking hope you do have a website!), you need to optimize it and put up CTA’s everywhere, inviting people to join your website.
I recommend you start by creating a pop-up and activating it on your website. My pop-up is the form that generates the most subscribers to my list at the moment.
Then, I recommend you create forms with your email marketing tool or create a graphic and a landing page like I did here:
Once you do that, include them in every blog post you have on your website. And don’t be shy to add two or three if you have super long posts.
Go over all of your content and include CTA’s wherever appropriate.
I suggest you include CTA at the very end of your posts, and then, if appropriate, include them inside the blog posts.
I’ve done it a few times today, have you noticed?!
Ensure that your website is fully optimized and that there is no chance someone will miss the fact that you have an email list.
Don’t just create a lead magnet and expect people to magically know about it.
#5: Drive Traffic To Your Email List
Well, congratulations if you’ve reached this step.
Great work, you’ve done the easiest part!
Now, let’s get to the most crucial and hardest part of the email list growth business:
Driving traffic to your lead magnet.
Ah, getting traffic to anything you create is a pain in the ass, I know that it has been a pain in my existence.
But it’s crucial if you want to be seen and want to make your website or online business work.
Now, you might be wondering what ways can you drive the traffic to your lead magnet.
Well, there are a few different ways you can do it:
#1: Optimize Your Social Media
Go and update your social media profiles by including a CTA and a link to your lead magnet.
Include keywords, if possible, and invite people to sign up.
It’s a passive and easy way to get attention, and then if someone stumbles upon your profile, they’ll know what they need to do.
#2: Use Pinterest To Drive Traffic
Pinterest is a powerhouse for getting traffic to your website and your lead magnet as well.
I suggest you create multiple different pins featuring your lead magnet and inviting people to sign up:
I notice that my pins that include my lead magnet perform better than some of my pins, which don’t include the lead magnet, so don’t be shy and display it loud and proud.
Of course, you have to remember that Pinterest is a long term game, so it might take a while to start seeing results.
But don’t feel discouraged and continue creating new pins and pinning to attract new people to your list.
#3: Use FB Groups To Drive Traffic
Now, this might be a controversial suggestion. However, I find it very effective for me.
Try using FG groups to attract more people.
Now, there are a few ways you can go about it:
You can participate in daily threads where you promote your website, pins, and lead magnet.
This can be very lucrative and effective to get more interested in what you have to offer.
You can participate in those groups and engage with people by answering their questions and sharing your knowledge.
This way, make sure that there is a link in your profile to your website or your freebie, so that people who want to see more from you, will have somewhere to go when they visit your profile.
Both ways are useful and can help you boost your email list growth, so give it a try.
#4: Use Paid Ads
Another great way to grow your email list fast is by using paid ads, whether on Facebook or Instagram.
Of course, if you’re trying to grow for free, this option might not be for you, however, if you have the money to invest in your business, I recommend to do it.
Many online entrepreneurs like Jenna Kutcher and Marie Forleo use ads to get people onto their list instead of directly advertising their courses.
Here is an excellent example of how an ad for a lead magnet looks like:
Using paid ads is excellent, but make sure that you’re either hiring someone to create ads for you or you create professional, attractive ads yourself.
If your ad does not look on-brand, attractive, and appealing, it won’t get the best results.
#6: Be Consistent With Your Email List
And finally, here we are at the very last step of your email marketing 101 guide.
Now that you have everything up and running, your website is optimized, your pins are pinned and getting you traffic, it’s time to talk about maintaining your list.
I mentioned before in this post that with the first email list I had, I was able to grow it reasonably fast to 500 subscribers, but I ruined it by not engaging and managing it.
And that’s a mistake I see a lot of people make also.
You think that you’ll start engaging your email list when you have enough people to talk to, but in reality, you can’t wait for that to happen, you have to maintain the list right now.
Even if you have 5 subscribers, create a schedule and send out valuable emails to your audience.
This way, not only you’ll learn to write emails and engage, you’ll develop a habit of maintaining your email list.
Don’t leave it for too long, always make sure that you’re popping up to your subscriber’s inbox, reminding them about you and your brand.
Another mistake I see people make is showing up only when it’s time to sell.
While it might look like that one freebie was more than enough for you to do to gain trust from people on your list, that’s not really the case.
People need to trust you to make a sale, so don’t be an asshole that shows up only when you want to ask your audience something.
You have to serve them free content, free valuable content, and then sell when the time is right.
If you won’t engage your list and you’ll show up only when you want them to buy something from you, it’s not going to be very sufficient in the long run.
So, spend time engaging and managing your list.
Either send out weekly or bi-weekly emails with updates and valuable content.
Hell, even if you’re able to send out only one email a month, it’s still better than sending out one email once in a blue moon.
Take the time to build a connection and create a tribe of people who love you and everything you do.
Having an email list and growing it from the very beginning of your business is crucial.
In today’s post, I covered everything you need to know about starting an email list, and I hope you can follow my strategy step by step and start yours today.
You’ll be happy that you started earlier, and remember to engage your list even if you have 5 subscribers. It will pay off at the end.
Also, if you want to have an easier time planning your email marketing campaigns, I recommend you grab my free content calendar template here.
It will change your life when it comes to content planning, and I use it myself!