Email list-building is everything to your business. And if it’s not, it should be. In fact, if you’re interested in conversions and business growth in general, the number one thing you should be working on right now is how to grow your email list.
Why? Because email is almost universally used. It’s more popular than social media for communication, it gets far more conversions than any other platform and it’s a direct line to your audience that works, especially when you have engaged, interested readers.
Here’s a list of 25 proven ways to grow your email newsletter list and harness the power of email to turn readers into paying clients (and if you want a pretty PDF version of the article you can download it in the Media Contents section).
By Tor Davies, Co-Kinetic founder
Collecting and nurturing your email contacts is one of, if not THE, most important aspects of marketing yourself and your business. Unfortunately, it’s one of the areas people tend to neglect the most … sharp intake of breath … which is a crazy waste of opportunity.
Even if you don’t need new customers right now, what harm is there in delighting them with loads of great-value content while you wait for the time to come when they may need your help? It’s not like it takes any longer to send an email to 10 people, as it does to send to 2,000 if you use a dedicated email marketing platform like Mailchimp (which is also free for up to 2,000 contacts).
But I can already hear the negative self-talk starting up … but I hate sending emails, I never know what to write in them, I’m crap at writing anyway and I hate feeling like I’m selling.
Well, luckily for you there’s a solution to all those problems.
Focus on Providing Value
You need to focus your efforts on something that’s known as ‘inbound marketing’. What is inbound marketing? Here’s a definition from Hubspot, one of the most highly respected digital marketing authorities:
“Inbound marketing is focused on attracting customers through relevant and helpful content and adding value at every stage in your customer's buying journey. With inbound marketing, potential customers find you through channels like blogs, search engines, and social media. Unlike outbound marketing, inbound marketing does not need to fight for potential customers’ attention. By creating content designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers, you attract qualified prospects and build trust and credibility for your business.”
Inbound marketing is also commonly referred to as content or education-based marketing which you will have heard me talk about in many of the presentations I deliver and articles I write. That’s because it’s the central strategy behind the marketing content that I create for therapists.
Marketing is Relationships
Here’s a suggestion: in future, stop thinking about marketing as a part of a promotional or sales process, and instead think about it in terms of building relationships and getting to know people. See, it already feels better doesn’t it?
Instead of trying to shove your business in people’s faces, just offer them valuable content instead and let them come to you. It takes all the pressure off you and it sets you free to do what you do best. Help.
What do I mean by valuable content?
- blog posts on topics that are common issues among your patients
- email newsletters with key tips or helpful resources that lead to your blog posts for more information
- advice handouts and rehabilitation leaflets
- newsletters and cheat sheets.
Basically, all the same sort of content that we create in our marketing campaign kits. Every piece of content has the same purpose: to educate, inform and where possible inspire.
And email is an awesome way to get this content in front of people and add this value to their lives. There’s not a sales pitch in site and that’s exactly how it should be. If you want to ask them to like you on Facebook or share their newsletter with their mates who they think would find it useful, then that’s fine, but draw the line there. Don’t be tempted to put in any sales pushes, and if you do, keep it seriously low key. Maybe a PS. at the end with this month’s offer but equally if you don’t want to then don’t do it.
This is all about building relationships, offering value and building authority and trust. I’ve written a more detailed article about using the power of email to nurture relationships at this link.
There’s nothing to stop you sending out a more sales-orientated offer as a one-off email as long as they’re the exception rather than the rule and the rest of the time, the reader is getting value.
There are some great advantages to taking this approach:
- a more engaged readership
- higher open and click rates
- better deliverability (high open and click rates help the various internet algorithms work out what should get priority over what) 4, increased sharing
- lower opt-out rates.
As you probably already know, a copywriter and I write a brand new nurture email, which is exactly what I’ve described above, with every marketing campaign we create. If you have a Mailchimp account it’s a one-click import into your own account; or you can copy and paste the text and images I provide if you use another email programme. It takes less than 5–10 minutes a month and is an absolute no-brainer.
Even if you don’t subscribe to our system or content, I really would recommend that this is one part of your marketing that ANYONE and EVERYONE should be doing. Pick an educational topic and write a short 400–800 word email or blog post on that topic. You could publish the full version on your blog and link to it from the email which you use to publish a teaser/taster version (giving them a strong benefit to go to the blog post itself). Just make sure the email contains valuable useful information in its own right.
25 Ways to Build Your Email List
Here are some ideas for building your email newsletter list.
1. Take email sign-up forms everywhere you go: And I mean wherever you go, whether it’s a sports event, or local community meeting, take a simple print out sign-up sheet that asks for first name and email address – and which provides some sort of offer/incentive for people to sign up. Or describes what benefit they’ll get for being part of your list.
2. Use business cards to encourage email sign-ups: Often under-utilised, put a bowl on your reception desk or entry to your clinic where people can leave cards (again offer an incentive that’s worth having) and make sure that you include info on your business card with a quick link to where they can sign up for your email newsletter (this is an idea use of the back of the card).
3. Run regular events: For example, a monthly education session – and make sure you collect email addresses for everyone (either by asking them to register online – this saves you time from doing data entry) and allows you to send automated event reminders.
4. Do special promotions: These could be in honour of national events, or for significant dates such as Valentine’s Day, the start of the summer holidays, celebrate “kids go back to school”, Royal weddings, local or national sports events – anything you can think of and offer an incentive to sign up: for example, “Take the weight of your feet now the kids have gone back to school, and treat yourself to a massage with our 20% discount offer”.
5. Send out a postcard or postal promotion: Ask for email information and give them a reason to sign up. In a recent Email Newsletter Sign-Up campaign that we produced as part of our marketing system, we created artwork for postcards, posters and leaflets that encouraged people to sign up to our subscribers’ newsletters.
6. Have a prominent home page sign-up button: We provide a newsletter sign-up page as part of our marketing subscription which you can create a simple sign-up button for OR you can use a sign-up form from the email provider you use. Mailchimp has embeddable sign-up forms that you can add to your website.
7. Use your blog posts: Anyone who uses our marketing content knows this is one of the best ways of collecting new email leads. Publish a blog post on your website on, for example, cycling injuries, and then offer a value-added content upgrade which could be patient advice leaflets on the most common injuries, which they need to give their email address to access. This is a major feature of the lead collection aspect of the marketing content we create.
8. Use your social networks: Again this is a key part of our marketing content at level 1 (the lead collection phase). Publish social media posts to your social networks which lead back to a content upgrade where they can get more value-added content on the same topic, in exchange for giving you their email address. All it requires is to have a really powerful ‘content upgrade’ offer which sits behind a lead collection/sign-up page. But an important note, do not expect organic (unpaid) social posts to achieve this because the Facebook algorithm changes mean that very few people will ever even see your organic posts. Paid promotion of lead collecting posts is the only way to go here.
09. Offer downloadable freebies (also known as lead magnets): Again, similar to the point above, offer ebooks or educational articles or newsletters in exchange for email addresses (we also produce these as part of our marketing campaigns).
10. Use pop-up lead collection boxes (also known as light boxes) on your website: This is really simple to do using tools such as the LeadPages pop-up forms, or free tools produced by companies such as Sumo Me. The key to it is having the right sign-up incentives. It doesn’t always have to be discounts or prizes. It could be free information resources such as cheat sheets or rehabilitation leaflets.
11. Team up with complimentary businesses: Ask them to include an offer in their newsletter and you include one in yours for them. Give them a link where they sign up and then set up an automated email to trigger when they sign up, giving them details on how to redeem the offer.
12. Do email newsletter specials: So only people on your email newsletter receive the offers or special information.
13. Make sure every email you send out has a link or button to a sign-up form: It’s always good practice to include a ‘call to action’ asking people to share your email with other people who might be interested, especially if your email is on a specific topic like running or cycling, or headaches, etc. And then make sure there’s a button or link where the recipient can sign up to future newsletters.
14. Social sharing options: Similar to the topic above, make sure you include some options for your readers to share your email to their social networks. You’d be surprised how effective this can be if the content is either useful or there’s a value attached to what they’re sharing.
15. Check in on Facebook: This isn’t technically an email sign-up tactic but it does mean more people see your brand and offer your clients a reward for doing this (you could also ask them to review you at the same time).
16. Get involved on blogs and Facebook groups: This is a great way of marketing yourself without actually marketing yourself. Share useful information and links back to blog posts on your website (which in turn feature content upgrades in return for email sign-ups). All the time focus on offering value.
17. Use posters outside your clinic: As I mentioned earlier, our Newsletter Sign-Up campaign included posters advertising your monthly newsletter and telling people how to sign up.
18. Add sign-up details to any paperwork: Things such as receipts or letterheads or even your business cards should feature a short link where they can sign up for your newsletter with a mention of the benefits of doing so. Or include a leaflet in anything you post out.
19. Include a PS. as part of your email signature or clinic email system: Which gives people a link to sign up to your email newsletter – always include a mention of the benefits of signing up and remember it doesn’t always have to be money-orientated, it could be value-added information and content.
20. Give them information options on your sign-up form: For example the sign-up form I created for my subscribers to collect newsletter sign-ups included two different tick-box opt-in options – one was for educational resources and the other was for clinic news and offers. Then they have the choice which to opt in for (90% of people are opting in for both at the time of writing).
21. Create an online course: This is much easier than it sounds if you set up simple automated emails. For example you might give people who sign up, a new exercise each day for 5 days, or 5 different pieces of information relating to the topic in question, for example do they have trouble sleeping at night because of their back pain? All you have to do is create 4–5 emails in a simple autoresponder series. When someone signs up for that series, it then triggers one email each day. It’s really simple to do in email platforms like Mailchimp (here’s a link to a help post).
22. Surveys and quizzes: These can serve a number of different purposes. We’ve all seen the fun Buzzfeed ones which incorporate an element of personality testing in them but other things you could ask people to get involved in might be a report on back pain. Not only do you collect useful information about the prevalence of injury or musculoskeletal issue among your customer base, but you can also use it to ‘lead score’ people and get a sense of how likely they are to need your help or on what topics you could give them additional information. Just make sure it doesn’t come across as a salesy way of finding out how injured somebody is and then pitching at them as this will turn them off very quickly. Take a cycling quiz for example, you could ask what sort of cyclist they would say they were (ie. commuter, keen amateur, etc.) and then might ask which out of the following injuries or conditions have the experienced and list the 8 most common cycling issues. This gives you an idea of how many miles they put in, what topics they might be interested in in the future, the sorts of injuries they’ve suffered (and you could give them advice handouts as a follow-up). Your imagination is the limit here and this is definitely a topic we’ll be discussing in much more detail in the future.
23. Competitions: This is a really effective lead generation method. Generally speaking, the greater the chancing of winning, the more effective a lead generator it will be. You could team up with other local businesses providing complementary services to put a really powerful prize package together. This has the added benefit that these partners could also help you promote the event.
24. Facebook lead ads: These are awesome ways of collecting new leads. It’s basically a native form that Facebook creates and pre-populates for the person who clicks on the ‘More Info’ button. So for example, say you’ve created a resource like a stretching leaflet or resource for people who suffer from sleepless nights due to back pain. Use Facebook ads to promote this resource as a free download for anyone who clicks and submits the More Info form. It’s super-simple to set up and you can collect leads for as little as 25p a lead.
25. Chatbots: This is the marketer’s favourite topic at the moment and there are a growing number of tools that are cheap and easy to use (ManyChat, ChatFuel, MobileMonkey, etc). A chatbot is a computer programme that conducts a conversation via text or messenger. The most common ones are those that integrate with the Facebook Messenger app. For example, a chatbot might pop up when someone visits your home page, or a specific page on your site, and ask a series of questions. You can also programme them to deliver answers and obviously it can also be programmed to collect email addresses to which you can then send additional helpful resources.
Regardless of how many or how few of the above techniques you use, there’s one thing to constantly keep in mind, make sure that your primary focus is always on adding value. DO NOT be tempted to fall into the trap of pitching something salesy.
Regularly check in with yourself and ask yourself if you’d be happy to receive, and would find value in, the content you’re creating or sending. Think about how you can serve your prospective customers better. Focus on developing your relationships with them and on building trust, and you’ll find that your email list will start to not only grow quite rapidly, but you’ll also vastly improved engagement too which is a win-win for everyone.
- We've produced a marketing campaign kit specifically designed to help you grow your email newsletter list. More info at this link - this content requires a subscription.