In the early stages of growing a business, establishing a loyal and dedicated group of people who are genuinely interested in your products is hugely important.
A great way to build this core customer base is with an email list of people who would like to be informed about product updates, discounts, and other information about your company.
Mailing lists are incredibly effective. According to Oberlo, 81% of small and medium-sized businesses use email marketing as their primary strategy for getting new customers.
Beyond this, the ROI of email marketing is now $42, which is frankly unbelievable.
But how do we organically grow our email list while still specifically targeting the people who would be interested in our product?
Here are the thirteen of the best strategies used by companies of all sizes.
Nobody likes being sold to, but people are more likely to respond well when they feel like they are personally catered for. It’s like the difference between a cattle feeder and a personal shopper. A great way to make an email feel personal without writing each of the emails is by segmenting your email list.
This will mean the content shown to each subscriber is better suited to them, resulting in a higher CTR.
Also, better emails make your customers more likely to recommend your service to a friend, organically growing your email list.
To segment a list, you need to know a significant amount about the type of consumer they are. This can be simple ways such as purchase history or more complex ways like including questions about their demographic or psychographics on your sign-up form.
Once you have enough information to segment your email list, the next step is to find software to send segmented emails.
Drip and ConvertKit are both good options for this. Personalizing emails will also decrease the number of people who unsubscribe because fewer people will feel like they are getting content that doesn’t suit them.
2. Abandoned Cart Emails
Abandoned Cart emails are messages sent to people who were browsing your website and had got to the stage where they had selected an item to buy and put it in their cart.
For whatever reason, these customers didn’t manage to finish their order, but with a helpful reminder email, they might have followed through on their purchase.
77.24 % of all carts were abandoned in 2019. This means we are missing out on 77% of all the possible purchases made on our site.
Although some of these people are no doubt just speculative browsers of bored commuters trying to kill time, the CTR of an abandoned cart email, as of 2021, is 8.13%, which is significant.
That means nearly 10% of people who abandon a cart could return to your website and continue with their order when reminded.
Everyone likes free stuff, and although giving away your product may seem counterintuitive competitions with free products as rewards are a win-win for everybody involved.
On average, 33% of all contestants who enter want to receive information about the brand in the future. For every thousand that enter, 330 will want to join your mailing list immediately.
Furthermore, contests go viral very easily because people enjoy talking about them. If the competition does nothing to encourage it, roughly 50% of participants will share the giveaway with a friend.
However, if the brand incentivizes sharing in the giveaway, such as a greater chance of winning if you share on social media, over 94% of people who enter will share it with a friend.
So for the price of a product or two, your company could have doubled its reach and added one-third of those who enter onto your mailing list.
An example of competition to grow an email list
4. Social Media
Social media is an incredibly powerful marketing tool that can significantly expand your email list when used correctly.
It is important to remember that some social media sites, like Instagram, cannot display links in posts. Because of this, it is important to try and direct your customer back to your Instagram page so that they can view the link in your bio.
A good way of doing this is to include split picture Instagram posts on your page. Split pictures are images that are displayed over multiple images, so you can only see the whole picture by going to your Instagram page.
Another important aspect of getting customers to sign up for an email list is to promote a friendly and trustworthy brand image.
By having an image that people can trust, customers are more likely to submit their emails because they have faith that you are not going to bombard them with useless information.
A great way to promote this kind of image is by directly interacting with your followers through polls and Q and A’s. This sort of connection with a customer fosters trust in your company, your product, and your mailing list.
An example of a split picture on Instagram.
5. Offering Free Content (Lead Magnets)
Similar to Giveaways, free content is a great way of incentivizing people to join a mailing list.
This is because you are offering value in return for their email address, which can feel like a trade for a customer where both parties benefit. Furthermore, if you create the right type of free content, it can encourage customers to purchase from you in the future.
Offering free content in return for customer information is known as lead magnets and is a well-known tactic used by small and medium-sized businesses.
Depending on your business and brand image, lead magnets can be anything from masterclasses to software to discounts. 50% of businesses that try lead magnets report that their conversion rate has increased, so clearly, when done correctly, they can be very effective.
Not all lead magnets are created equal, however. Here are two points that will help you create the perfect lead magnet.
Keep it free. Dan Ariely conducted an experiment in his book Predictably Irrational, in which he gave people the choice of a $20 gift card for $7 or a $10 gift card for free. Although the $7 gift card was better valued at $3, significantly more people chose the free $10 gift card.
This exposes humans’ natural bias towards free things, even if they are less profitable than paid options. A free option is also often less effort for a consumer because they don’t have to fill in their payment information.
Keep it short and sweet. If you are giving away free content, it is better for you and the consumer if the content doesn’t take too long to create and too long to consume. In practical terms, this means that a free masterclass shouldn’t be four hours long, and free ebooks shouldn’t be hundreds of pages.
If you make quick content that is dense with information, consumers will be more willing to give their details to get it as it is easier for them to get value out of it.
An example of a lead magnet.
6. Affiliate Advertising
Affiliate marketing is a very popular form of advertising, but most of the publicity around the strategy focuses on the advertisers without looking at the benefits it can cause for the business. This form of advertising centers on a company hiring an affiliate marketer who brings in customers.
For every customer that the marketer brings in, they receive a percentage of the sale.
This percentage varies significantly between 5% and 30% per sale. Affiliate marketing is not designed to grow your mailing list, specifically. But instead, it is outsourcing the process of developing a mailing list to someone who is seasoned in the art of mailing lists.
It’s important to note that mailing lists are not the only way in which affiliate marketers share information about your company. But most affiliate marketers will have an established email list that your company deserves to capitalize on.
This may seem like a no-brainer to some more experienced business owners. But it is important to note that to get a successful email list, you need to use software to automate the process of sending out hundreds or thousands of emails at one time.
If you’re looking for a solid piece of software that can automate emails easily, Hubspot email marketing is a good place to start.
Hubspot offers a free marketing tool that provides email marketing options as well as many other features which don’t directly link to email marketing but would be very useful to small and medium-sized businesses, such as ad management and live chat features.
It’s important to note, however, that if you want to segment your email list in the future, you may need to use different software like Mailchimp. More information on segmenting emails is available at point 4. Automating emails will mean that you can reach more people in a shorter amount of time.
8. Call To Actions
Call to action, or CTAs, are direct instructions on a website or blog telling customers what to do.
An example would be a site with a pop-up saying “sign up to get access to our webinar” and a video link below. Working out the correct tone and implementation of CTAs is a fantastic way to extend your email list.
Some of the other items on this list involve offering content or a giveaway, but we haven’t paid much attention to how to phrase these offers. This is when an understanding of CTAs is essential.
Here are two tips for creating the perfect CTA.
Keep it short. By making the call to action concise, it requires a very small amount of time for the customer to comprehend. This lack of time commitment will make the customer more willing to follow instruction.
Make the benefit clear. A customer is far more likely to follow instructions.
An example of this would be Dropbox. Instead of saying, “Click here to try Dropbox,” their CTA says, “Work better, safer, together.”
This CTA clearly outlines the benefits to the consumer.
Pop-ups are a contentious issue on the internet.
The modern consumer has had a lot of experience with pretentious, obnoxious, and clearly false pop-ups. However, if used in moderation, some pop-ups can be useful to grow your email list. An interesting type of pop-up is the exit pop-ups which appear when a user attempts to leave the page.
The reason this may be your best bet for pop-ups is that when a user is on your website, they may be about to purchase a product, and if the pop-up interrupts that thought process, they may end up not purchasing the product.
Alternatively, if someone is trying to leave the page, the pop-up is not going to interrupt their deliberation on a purchase.
The exit popup is sort of a final Hail-Mary at turning that user into a customer.
This last-ditch attempt may not be as much of a long shot as it seems. According to research by Wisepops, exit pop-ups outperform normal pop-ups by 5%. Although pop-ups should not be the primary strategy for growing an email list, they are definitely an effective tactic when used well. Just remember, with great power comes great responsibility.
We touched on this aspect of growing a mailing list in the competition section by suggesting that you should incentivize sharing a competition to get more sign-ups. However, the practice of incentivizing customers to share sign-up links with their friends spans beyond competitions.
The idea of referring a friend to a product is not new.
Paypal, which gives you five dollars when you refer the software to a friend, demonstrates one of the best uses of this. This means that the consumer gets value out of the deal, but Paypal also gets value out of the deal.
You can do this by offering something for free, using your perfected CTA, in return for your customer referring a friend to your site and entering their email. According to statistics from Annex Cloud, 92% of people will trust a referral from someone they know in life. This makes referrals one of the most effective ways of growing your email list.
11. Help Bot
You may have seen this relatively new aspect of websites popping up recently.
Chat-bots are effectively automated help centers that aid customers in navigating your website. They often take the form of a small messaging icon in the corner of the screen. According to statistics from campaignmonior.com, chatbots are the favorite communication method of 45% of consumers, which is a huge chunk that’s worth catering for.
Chatbots will help your email list because the bot will ask for the customer’s email address before communicating with them.
When a customer opens a help bot, the familiar messaging format will make them feel comfortable, and if they are already communicating with the bot, they are more likely to follow through with the email sign-up to find the support they were initially looking for.
12. A Sign-Up Link On The Email
Although most of the customers who see your emails will already be on the mailing list, putting a subscribe button at the bottom of your email is still a good idea.
This is because if some of your customers forward the email to friends, their friends will easily be able to sign up to the mailing list without having to go back to your website.
This ease of use will make sure you maximize the organic growth of your mailing list through people sharing it.
13. Use CTA Cards On Social Media
Social media should be a key part of any new company’s advertising, but to maximize email list growth, it is important to use CTA cards. These are additions to your video, which appear on the right of the video underneath the “more information” icon, presenting useful information and links.
If you have a YouTube video about a product or service, these cards are the perfect opportunity to present your call to action. YouTube is not the only social media site that uses cards. Twitter also uses cards to drive traffic to your email list sign up in a similar way.
This strategy will make sure that more interested users find and sign up for your email list. The CTR of this strategy depends significantly on your video’s viewer retention rate because the cards are usually placed towards the latter part of the video so that viewers don’t get distracted from the video at the beginning and click off it.
The overall takeaway here is that for people to hand over their sensitive details to an email list, they require a few key attributes from your company.
A customer needs to trust your business. You need to offer some form of value back to the customer, and the sign-up process has to be quick and easy for the customer.
If your business has this holy trifecta in place and you start to include some of our more specific recommendations on top of that, you can expect to see your email list grow exponentially in the future.