Your email list is one of your most valuable owned assets. It’s the key to engaging your target audience and building trusted relationships with them. But most marketers don’t do enough to build and nurture theirs.
“But wait just a minute,” you protest. “I put a newsletter signup form on the home page of my website. Isn’t that enough?”
In a word, no.
At the most, you’ll get a trickle of subscribers from this approach. What if you could grow that trickle into a torrent – signing up a larger number of the right people and growing your list much faster?
Here are 12 innovative ways to do just that:
- Host a webinar. This type of event concentrates a wealth of knowledge and actionable advice into an hour or less, making it a great lead magnet. You can also record the webinar and continue to share it as a gated resource after the event is done.
- Use pop-ups to capture attention. Many people don’t like them, but study after study shows that they work. For best results, make the call to action something that’s of high value to the prospects you want to attract.
- Create page-specific pop-ups. For even better results, create offers that are customized to the content on the web pages where they appear. Consider the “next steps” you want your visitor to take after reading your blog post – and then tailor the pop-up accordingly.
- Add a form to the bottom of specific blog posts. The idea of this tactic is that the reader has gotten a taste of your amazing thinking. Now you’re giving them an opportunity to sign up to be notified when you publish more great insights.
- Offer a content upgrade. Update and expand an existing blog post that’s already performing very well. Then create an additional high-value resource on the same topic, and make it available via a pop-up registration form. Examples of effective content upgrades include worksheets, checklists and resource lists. A content upgrade lets people who really value your blog post to learn even more.
- Optimize your confirmation page. This is the page visitors see after they fill in and submit your enewsletter sign-up form. Most confirmation pages just say “thank you for subscribing.” But don’t forget as part of the double opt-in process, they must click on the link of an auto-generated email to confirm their subscription. Use your confirmation page to remind them of the value they’ll receive in return for completing the verification process.
- Insert a “learn more” link within your e-newsletter signup box. People who immediately see the value of subscribing can easily do so within the form on your home page. For the rest of your visitors, provide a link to a landing page where you can explain the benefits of signing up and enable them to do so there.
- Pitch your email newsletter to your Twitter followers. If you do this consistently, you’ll gain a small but steady stream of new subscribers. But don’t overdo it – once or twice a week is plenty.
- Use a blog post teaser. If you’re writing a blog post series, include a subscription form at the end of the first article. Encourage readers to register to receive notifications when you publish additional posts in the series.
- Convert your About Us web page into a squeeze page. It’s a frequently-visited page on most websites, but most bloggers never think to add a call to action and a newsletter subscription form to it.
- Add a newsletter signup link to your email signature. This is easy to do but it’s often overlooked.
- Include an email signup link in the author bylines of guest posts you publish on other websites.
It’s time to get intentional about growing your email list. The opportunities to expand it are many, if you think about the challenge creatively. Why not select one or two of the ideas in this list and experiment with them? Use the resulting data to decide which ones to keep and which ones to eliminate from your website.
Good luck experimenting!
Email is a critical element of any B2B marketing program because it enables you to communicate with your customers and prospects on a schedule that you control. In addition, if you grow your email list over time, it can become a strategic asset that can help you grow your business. And, don’t forget that costs per-person emailed actually decreases as your list gets larger. Like any marketing technology, email marketing platforms very widely in their features and usability. Here are some tips to select the right email marketing platform for your organization.
Step 1: Define your needs
First, create a spreadsheet that summarizes your team’s wish list of features and functionality. Next, rate each feature on a scale of 1 to 5, where five is essential and one is optional. Use this list to reach consensus with your team on its must-have features. Important features to look for include these:
Personalization. Personalized emails almost always perform better than those that are not. Look for email service providers that enable you to personalize subject lines as well as the body of the message.
A/B testing. You can never be sure what your audience will respond to. That’s why you need to run experiments with your emails. The concept behind A/B testing is simple: Create two variations of a headline, call-to-action button or other page element and send them to a sub-set of your list (e.g., 500 people each). Then, see which one performs best. Once you declare the winner, send that version to the rest of your list.
Performance tracking. To what extent can you track audience interaction with your emails? You not only need to track message open rates, but also click throughs for each of the links within each message.
Templates. How easy is it to set up templates within the email platform? Does the email platform vendor need to create the templates for you, and at what cost? You’ll want a lot of flexibility here, especially as you segment your list. Be sure you can customize templates with your organization’s branding requirements.
Deliverability. Before selecting an email platform, make sure you ask about these features, which can enhance the deliverability of your messages:
- DNS, SKF and DKIM certifications help receiving mail servers verify the authenticity of your messages, which helps improve deliverability. Your email provider should be able to help you create these settings on your server.
- Ask if the provider “seeds” client lists with email addresses, so it can verify the deliverability of each of them and can identify any problems before they become major issues.
- Ask if your messages will be sent out from a shared IP or via a dedicated IP address. If it’s the former, you have little control over the reputation of that IP address. If another client is spamming its lists, your deliverability could suffer. With a dedicated IP address, you will be the only domain sending email over it, which improves your reputation and therefore your deliverability.
On boarding. What resources does the email platform provide to help you move your email lists over to their platform? Do they offer training or live support to help you solve common problems?
Support options. How quickly can you reach someone to help you solve a problem when it occurs? You should have the option of working with a human being when you run into big problems that need to be solved immediately, whether by phone or live online chat.
Step 2: Evaluate email platforms
Open your wish list of rated features and add columns to the right for each of the email platforms you are considering. Once again, rate each feature on a numerical scale based on the extent to which it supports the functionality you need.
Step 3: Trial use
Once you’ve identified one or two email platforms that appear to be a good fit, request a trial use. You need to determine how well each tool fits into your workflow before you make a final decision.
Step 4: Selection and implementation
Select the email platform that is the best fit for your company. Import your lists and set up your templates. Then, you’re ready to go. Good luck with your new email platform!
In today’s online world, there’s a real danger to “building your house on rented land.”
In other words, by publishing your content on platforms and channels you don’t own, you run the risk of them unexpectedly changing the rules and compromising its visibility.
Twitter. LinkedIn. Facebook. Medium. Apple Newsstand. These and other channels where you may be publishing and promoting your content have complete control it. They decide whether it lives or dies and the extent to which it is visible to the world. This problem has been well documented, so I won’t belabor it any further.
What’s important to note from a strategic standpoint is that you need to focus your content on platforms and channels that you DO own. Your website is the first and most obvious place to do that. But another one that marketers often overlook is one of the oldest, least sexy forms of online media: email.
An email subscription strategy is critical
In today’s uncertain environment, it’s critical that you have a healthy and growing email list, because it gives you the ability to communicate with your audience whenever YOU want.
Do you have a strategy in place to grow your subscriber list? If not, now’s the time to formulate one. Here are some things to keep in mind:
High visibility form: Your website should have a subscription form in a prominent location on the home page and other important pages of your website. Some people put this box in the right-hand column of each page, which is easy to do if your website is based on WordPress or another blogging platform. Others use a popover box, which appears on top of the content of your web pages, or a “welcome mat,” which loads above your web page content and commands attention (visitors can also click a button to scroll down to the page’s content).
Offer an exchange of value: Ideally, your content should be so compelling that visitors can’t wait to sign up for your newsletter. In the real world, however, readers usually need an incentive to sign up – an offer for a free white paper, special report or other valuable resource. Once they submit their email address, they will have access to a web page with they can download their freebie.
Be consistent: Create an editorial calendar and publish your newsletter on a regular basis. Consistency is key. It doesn’t matter if you publish once a week, once every two weeks or once a month. Establish a publishing schedule and stick to it.
Upsell them: At the end of blog posts, offer a free download of a relevant special report, worksheet or other resource. The link should lead the reader to a landing page where they can give you their email address in exchange for it.
Ungate some resources: Even though you’ll want to grow your list quickly, don’t “gate” every resource you offer to your website visitors. A combination of free and gated is best. Remember, you want to give your visitors a strong taste of your best thinking. This is a real opportunity to turn the tables: Instead of forcing a visitor to give up their email address in exchange for your special report, why not create a free, ungated resource that is so good that the reader will say to him- or herself, “I want to sign up for the newsletter so I can get access to more of this awesome thinking!”
Related article: Marketers: Why are your sales flatlining?
Are you still bound by the old ball and chain that is Microsoft Outlook? I have a love-hate relationship with it. As an email marketer the word “Outlook” makes me cringe because of the challenges it presents to HTML email rendering, yet I’ve been steeped in using it for business communication my entire professional career. When you become accustomed to something it’s hard to give up, which is why I wasn’t surprised to find out that I’m not alone! I should point out that we switched our mail servers over to Google Apps for business months ago, but I’ve been using Google Apps Sync for Outlook. Despite the strong encouragement of much smarter people, I most certainly do NOT want to give up Outlook. But with support and encouragement from fellow Data Dogger and Outlook junkie Zina Harrington – we’re going to give it a go!
Taking baby steps, all of next week Zina and I are ditching our beloved Outlook for our business correspondence to exclusively use the Gmail interface. There is a good video with some tips that will help ease the transition over on the TechRepublic blog like turning off conversation view and using labels and filters. Are you still reading email from Google in Outlook? Will you join Zina and I during our #OutlookInterventionWeek?
Join us by tweeting about it using the hashtag above, or let us know what grinds your gears about the Outlook/Gmail transition in the comments section below!