There’s a saying in the digital marketing world, and in my experience, it stands true. “The money is in the list”.
I know it sounds cheesy. Perhaps it also evokes a reaction in you as you read it. Because a lot of entrepreneurs aren’t in it for the money.
In my work as a digital marketing mentor, I see numerous clients who come from this mindset of “I’m in it for the passion, not money.”
Well, good for you, but you need money to stay afloat, and even really enjoy your work and life. So let’s get that straight – and I hope you don’t have any stigma attached to the word now that we’ve spoken about it.
Coming back to the topic, what is a list? An email list or a database is a collection of prospect email addresses. Once a prospect gives you the permission to send them a newsletter, discount coupon, free tickets or educational content right into their inbox, you have an “active list”.
The reason lists are so effective is that people don’t change their email often. In fact, it is a pain to change your email address. You need to have a very strong reason to do that.
Compare this to social media platforms out there. People deactivate their Facebook account all the time. Same goes with Twitter or LinkedIn.
The point? You can lose them on social media, but so long as you have their email and permission to write to them, you can always continue to position yourself as the best in your business.
How? The way I see it, there are three broad strategies to building a healthy email list:
Search Engine Optimization or SEO is one of the smartest tools for marketers. If you thought SEO is hard, think again. Because really, it is not, if you learn to do it right.
SEO helps entrepreneurs to:
- Gain new traffic to their website.
- Convert visitors into leads.
- Convert leads into customers.
In short, if you want to grow your subscriber database and boost your sales, SEO can help. It relies on the simple principle that the more traffic you attract to your website, the more chances you have to convert them into subscribers.
It’s like casting your net wide. From there on, it’s a numbers game. Of course, you want to have the right elements on your landing page and publish great content on your blog, but before that you need some incoming traffic.
You can generate leads in two ways:
- Organic search results: It depends on what keywords you use in your content. And by content, I mean everything -- your web copy, blog, landing page copy, button copy, every word of it. The more “right” keywords you use in your content naturally, the stronger your SEO.
- Paid ads: If you’re ready to pay for traffic, you can target specific keywords in your niche and buy ads that appear on the very top of a Google search results page (also known as Search Engine Results Page or SERP).
The right keyword is the one with low competition, high search volume and relevant to your niche.
SEO, when combined with great content, can do wonders. But SEO alone with poor content is merely “keyword stuffing” which won’t take you anywhere in the long run.
Here are some tips on using SEO to boost your email list:
1. Use text, not graphics in your call-to-action (CTA) copy. A CTA could be text that goes on a button, for example. Instead of creating a graphic for it, use searchable text so it brings in some SEO juice. Make sure you add relevant keywords in your CTA copy. Example: Instead of “grab your free coupon” be more specific and say, “grab your free vegan coupon”.
2. Use the right keywords in your email campaigns. Rather than saying, “click here” or “join us”, try adding some punchy keywords so they match what people search. This also goes for subject lines and headlines. Use keywords in your subject lines so they speak directly to your audience.
3. Archive your emails so they are online and can be crawled by search engine bots. And since you’re using the right keywords in the headline and body of your emails, new prospects can reach you via an email newsletter you sent out months ago.
But wait, isn’t SEO dead?
Recently, there has been a lot of buzz around this. Is SEO dead?
Adam Connell from UKLinkology says SEO isn’t dead, only a little different. Google has changed its game, and as an entrepreneur, you have to adapt to it.
He advises that SEO, social media and content marketing are intertwined. So it’s not that you pick either one of these as a tactic – you treat them all as a part of the same strategy.
I agree with Adam. SEO by no means is a loner tactic. You can always mix and match these to create a synergy, or a “sales funnel” in other words.
2. Social media
Another avenue to grow your email list is social media. A lot of entrepreneurs want to be on every social media platform out there but don’t know what they are supposed to be doing with their accounts.
To make your social media strategy simple and profit-driven, consider shortlisting the top three platforms where your audience hangs out the most. Now, cut it down to top two. This is where all your focus should go.
Be mindful that Facebook is inherently a “personal” platform whereas LinkedIn is more professional. Besides, not everyone likes “doing business” on Facebook.
On the other hand, if your brand is visually-driven, platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest work well.
Ideally, you should be using social media not for the sake of “likes” or “followers” but for one purpose: to drive traffic to your landing page.
So those 10K likes on your profile? Not doing much for you unless you give them a chance to leave their email address behind in exchange for a freebie.
The landing page should then convert that traffic into leads.
Here are a few tips to use to drive traffic from social media:
1. Add a CTA tab on your Facebook profile that takes them to your landing page. If you don’t want to hire a developer, you can try apps in the market to create and embed drag-and-drop forms in easy steps. One example is GetResponse’s Form Builder app.
2. If you’re using Twitter, try their promoted tweets. But there are even better ways to do it without asking your prospects to leave Twitter’s website.
Enter Twitter Cards. A Twitter Lead Generation Card is a neat way to collect information (email, first names, last names etc) from your followers. A Twitter card let you go beyond the 140-character of text, and explore richer media in your message. They would click a button or fulfill a CTA, all without leaving Twitter.
You can choose from different goals, such as:
- Sign up for your list.
- View and use a coupon.
- Download an app.
There are 10 types of cards available, but for the sake of simplicity, we will look at the lead generation card.
It works like a landing page, with the only difference being that you’re still on Twitter. You offer an incentive and they click. Their usernames and email addresses are pre-filled, so all they have to do is click “submit” or its equivalent.
According to Twitter, you can get started in following easy steps:
1. Choose a card type.
2. Add HTML code to your page.
TIP: Learn how to add Twitter Cards in Buffer’s extensive Twitter Cards guide.
3. Run your URL in their Validator tool for testing purposes.
4. Run Twitter analytics to measure results.
3. Guest Blogging
I saved the best for last. Guest blogging is undoubtedly a great way to build your portfolio and brand. It allows you to:
- Position yourself as an authority in your niche.
- Bring new traffic on your website.
- Boost SEO ranking with solid inbound links.
- Grow your email list.
The idea is simple: Instead of pushing out content on your blog, you write for other major blogs in your niche. At the end of the article, your bio has a call-to-action that offers them a bribe and takes them on your landing page.
This is super-helpful especially if you’re just starting out.
Because your new website is not getting any traffic at the moment, why publish content prematurely? Do this instead:
- Make a list of top blogs/publications that invite contributors in your niche.
- Study them closely. Look for the type of content they publish, the frequency, headlines, comments, and style and tone of posts.
- Approach the editor. But build a relationship first.
- Pitch a story idea.
- Follow up.
- Get published and engage the readers in comments.
- Thank the editor.
- Rinse and repeat!
Easier said than done, I know. Each of those steps above is made up of sub-steps. For example, relationship building, also known as blogger outreach, is a whole strategy in itself. Or take step #1. When you’re researching target blogs, you can use tools like AllTop.com, Topsy, FollowerWonk or BuzzSumo to find influencers in your niche.
Your goal with the above steps is to bring traffic on your landing page (with the exception of Twitter Cards). From there, the job is to convert a visitor into a subscriber. A lot goes on into the creation of a landing page, but you can start with tools that make it easy with inbuilt ready-to-go templates, such as LeadPages.