How to Create a Great Email List for Online Marketing

Have you ever opened up an email from a company you’ve never heard of, with an offer that seems too good to be true? We all have, but here’s the thing: that company probably buys our contact information from a data broker who buys it from a marketing database. Now, that marketing database may have been curated by our digital marketing agency – probably the same one that designed our website, handled our SEO, and built our social media accounts. So, while it’s always nice to get a free sample or a discount, you can bet that the company you’re emailing – or the entity that’s emailed you – knows exactly what they’re doing, and they’re not messing around.

Now is the perfect time to be asking yourself, “How do I grow my email list?” You can start by asking us, because we’ve been there, too. Here are a few tried, true, and recommended ways to achieve that goal.

Focus On Qualified Leads

When it comes to marketing and email list growth, most businesses make the mistake of focusing on getting as many names and email addresses as possible. While this may seem like a short-cut to building a bigger list, it can quickly become a waste of time if there’s no sense of strategy or focus on qualified leads. A qualified lead is someone who’s already shown an interest in your product or service, or someone who’s pretty close to being a customer (e.g., registered user, or someone who’s shown an interest in your product or service by doing research or taking a survey).

To get the most out of your email marketing efforts, you need to focus on – and I mean FOCUS on – generating quality leads. You can start by segmenting your audience into multiple buyer personas and crafting separate email campaigns for each of them. For example, you may want to send out an email campaign titled “First Offers For New Customers,” or “First Meetings With Key Personnel.”

You can also optimize your offers and campaigns for the platforms your audience uses most often. If you’re new to digital marketing, try out a free trial of HubSpot, or look into other CRM solutions like Salesforce.

Diversify Your Content

When you’re just getting started, it’s important to keep your content fresh and interesting. One option is to periodically release new blog posts, particularly if you’re writing about a topic that’s still trending (e.g., blockchain, AI, or the like).

Another option is to find a way to consistently interact with and educate your audience on your social media channels. For example, if you run a Twitter account, consider using it to engage with your followers about relevant industry topics. You can also set up a live video walkthrough of your product, show casing all its features.

If none of the above seem like a fit, then you might want to consider investing in creating and distributing professionally made YouTube videos. Not only will they engage your audience while giving you the opportunity to showcase your product or service, but they can also become a source of qualified leads if you put the right keywords into the video’s description.

Offer More Than Just Marketing Advice

If you’re fortunate enough to have built up a following of thousands or even millions of people on your social media accounts, you can consider yourself a thought leader in your industry. With so much demand for your advice, how can you make sure that your blog posts and social media content are valuable and worth reading or sharing? One option is to always keep your audience engaged by sharing fresh content on a regular basis, offering in-demand experts as guest speakers, and partnering with leading brands in your niche to produce joint content.

As your audience learns more about you and your brand, they’ll value your expertise more than ever. For example, if you’re an SEO expert, and your audience values your content and partnerships highly, you may want to consider developing and sharing a whitepaper or case study with your followings.

The goal is to inspire your audience to action, and help them make better decisions about their finances, careers, and loved ones. While you want to give them value, make sure that you don’t come off too much like a salesman. Instead, be the expert that they come back to time and time again for advice.

Build Relationships With Influencers

Everyone likes to think that they’re an expert in something, and having someone of high authority say that your product or service is worth buying or using is more likely to convince someone to try it out, especially if that person is a well-known expert in their industry. The problem is that these days, anyone can claim to be a digital marketer, or an SEO expert, and that makes it harder to establish credibility when you’re starting out. One way to gain credibility and build a brand for yourself is to show that you’re an expert in building relationships with leading influencers in your niche.

To continue the example above, if you’ve written a couple of popular blog posts on the topic of investing, you may want to reach out to the influential people in your niche (and beyond) who write about and discuss financial subjects. While the chances are that they know you already, writing guest posts for high-profile publications and reaching out to them about your new blog or business can help establish you as an expert in the industry. Additionally, if you can get a free sample of a high-end beverage or food item that they might enjoy, or a small gift card to a restaurant they love, they’ll be more than willing to help you out.

Use Personal Branding

Instead of just using your business’ name or a generic term like “best” or “top,” when referring to your product or service, establish your own personal brand and identity. For example, if your company name is John Smith Financial, instead of saying “Our top pick for a personal budgeting plan is John Smith Financial,” you could say “I’m a big fan of John Smith Financial and I use their product every day.” You may want to consider using your name instead of your company name when referring to your products and services, as it shows that you have a personal connection with the content (e.g., “I’ve used Jane Smith’s flower delivery services for years, and she always does a great job.”).

The idea behind establishing a personal brand is to create a brand image that’s distinct from your business, one that future customers can associate with when they think of your brand. For example, if you are an expert florist, and your customers think of you as the “florist expert,” you can use your personal brand to further establish yourself as an expert in your industry. If you run a blog related to wine, you may want to consider using examples of wine from your area to establish your expertise in the field. By doing this, you demonstrate that you know more than you might think about wine, and also make your visitors aware of your area of expertise. If you want to see your personal branding strategy in action, take a look at the websites of some of the largest and most successful companies in their industries. You’ll likely find that they heavily utilize personal branding, particularly on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

Use Inbound To Grow Your Email List

Inbound Marketing is the methodology of attracting, engaging, and delighting people to grow a business that provides value and builds trust. Essentially, it’s about – and I mean – attracting high-quality leads who are already thinking about your product or service, and delighting them with a memorable, value-packed experience.

Inbound Marketing is all about creating an environment where potential customers can find what they want, without having to ask for help or look for a salesperson – hence the name Inbound Marketing.

Instead of focusing on getting as many contacts as possible, with Inbound, you’re aiming to attract those who are interested in your product or service — and keep them! One of the best parts of Inbound is that you don’t need a huge list to be effective. You just need to focus on a few key areas to get the most out of your efforts.

The first step in the Inbound Marketing process is to define your target audience. Essentially, who is this audience? What do they need? What are their goals? Once you’ve got your target audience outlined, you can craft a persona and begin developing content that will resonate with them. Additionally, you can look into the type of content your audience likes, and begin delivering that to them on a regular basis. For example, if your target audience loves funny videos, run a series of funny videos or create a podcast with comedy episodes.