How (and Why) To Build a Mailing List for Your Website

There may be more social media platforms floating around than you can reasonably track. But email marketing is still the way forward for most businesses. It allows you to engage in rich segmentation, automation, and personalization. All without having to contend with the relentless pace of social media feeds.

But unlike social media marketing, email marketing can’t usefully be done without extensive preparation. Where a social ad can make its way to huge audiences all based on certain parameters, emails require specific recipients — and with GDPR now in effect in Europe and making waves across the world, it’s more important than ever to be very careful about data.

So before you start doing consistent and meaningful email marketing for your website, you need a comprehensive mailing list. But why exactly is it so important that you get it right? And how can you do it? Let’s find out.

Why you need a mailing list

If you want to send emails to promote your business, you need a mailing list: it’s really that simple. The best you can do otherwise is reply to innocuous emails or target people you personally know, likely resulting in them deciding they no longer want to know you. But let’s go beyond this and discuss why you need a great mailing list.

The quality of your mailing list has an obvious and direct effect on the efficacy of your email campaigns. If you have a weak mailing list with fairly few entries, you’ll get very little exposure for your emails, and if you have a massive mailing list full of questionably-relevant addresses, you’ll achieve very poor efficiency. Why bother paying to send out emails to people who aren’t interested in what you’re trying to sell?

For your email marketing to be worthwhile, you’ll need high-quality emails that work hard to convince readers to take action, and that work mustn’t be wasted. Confirm before you email that the recipient is a genuinely a relevant lead, and you’ll have a much better chance of keeping their interest, as well as protecting the image of your brand (spam the wrong people and you’ll risk a social media backlash).

Unfortunately, it’s still quite common for businesses to buy and import mailing lists. You must not do this. Not only is it a huge risk in a post-GDPR world, but it will cost you without giving you meaningful results. You must build your own list, however long it takes.

The power of sequential marketing

What a great mailing list allows you to do is get creative with sequential email marketing. This is where you look past individual emails and think instead about sequences of emails: how one leads into the next, depending on the actions of the recipient. If someone takes action in one email, it can be reflected in the next, impressing them and furthering their interest.

If by some miracle a bad mailing list provides you with some contacts that are actually interested in your first email, it’s unlikely that said interest will persist over time. Think of the difference between trying to sell cosmetics door-to-door and trying to sell them at a cosmetics convention. The average person on the street might want to buy once, but they’re very unlikely to have enough enthusiasm for cosmetics to sign up to your monthly plan.

You mailing list isn’t something to assemble and view as a static framework. It’s a collection of your most precious business contacts. They need to be carefully curated and updated across the months and years, with lost opportunities removed and new possibilities added. In this way, each contact will grow in value as you market to them.

How to earn email addresses

Earning email addresses is easier said than done, but if it were easy, it wouldn’t be so worthwhile. There’s a lot of competition for the average email inbox, and still numerous unintended “subscriptions” lingering from the pre-GDPR days of tricks and deceptions. Most of them go ignored, admittedly, but they still take up space. If you want to add to that clutter, you need to show that your content is truly worth someone’s time.

Think about incentives. What about your content would make someone sufficiently interested in you to receive your emails, and even look forward to them? When you ask for an email address, you’re asking for something of value. So you must provide something valuable before you ask, with a clear suggestion that subscribing will lead to the provision of more valuable content.

What can you offer? If you’re engaged in ecommerce, then you can offer a discount, coupled with a note that your subscribers will be the first to be notified about your latest deals. If you’re just trying to promote your brand, you can use free resources to tempt your visitors. Think about things like free podcasts, free templates, free plugins, or even free ebooks (this ebook maker by Designrr can condense your existing content into an ebook format).

Don’t be too in-your-face with your email sign-up form. In other words, don’t make it appear and obscure the screen five seconds after someone has reached your site. That’s only going to push people away. Give them the chance to read your content, then give them a tasteful call-to-action that sells the benefits of your newsletter without being too pushy. If you get a subscriber through needling someone, they’ll be very unlikely to stick around anyway.

How to keep subscribers happy

Once you’ve won some subscribers and built up a good mailing list, the most important thing (other than nailing your marketing) is to keep them content, getting them to stick around. When someone chooses to unsubscribe, that’s a major and avoidable loss that you likely can’t retrieve. Here are some general points to follow:

  •  Provide content on a consistent (but not too frequent) basis. Keep track of when you’re sending and don’t annoy people with emails at strange times: using the Newsletter plugin for WordPress will be very helpful for this.
  • Don’t get overly familiar. Personalization and automation are great, but if you go too far with them then you’ll drive people away. Be careful about using names in subject lines, for instance. It can ultimately prove quite disconcerting.
  •  Keep offering meaningful value. It’s value that brings people in, and value that will keep them with you. It doesn’t matter how much they like you: if they stop getting anything from your emails, they’ll unsubscribe. What you offer is up to you, so you can provide tips, entertainment, offers, event invitations, and anything else you can think of.

You’ll always lose some subscribers as time goes by. But if you follow these points and try your best to keep things fresh and relevant, you’ll stand a good chance of retaining many more.

As we’ve seen, you really can’t do much with email marketing without an outstanding and carefully-assembled mailing list. If you’re looking to reach out to more people to get them more familiar with your brand and build up awareness in general, start collecting relevant email addresses today — it shouldn’t be too long before you have enough data to get started.

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