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- How to Create an Email List That Keeps Growing
How to Create an Email List That Keeps Growing
7 “Set It and Forget It” Steps To Build an Email List
It’s critical to know how to create an email list.
Your business might be humming along with plenty of leads from social media, but you’re more vulnerable than you think.
What happens when the algorithm changes? Or when a quirky billionaire buys your favorite platform?
These and many other events could make you invisible overnight.
The solution to this uncertainty is to have your own email list. When you understand how to create a subscription email list, you are no longer at the mercy of large platforms. You have control over your audience.
And if you ever decide to switch providers, you can take your subscribers with you.
So, before we waste too much time yapping about the evils of social media and online advertising, let's show you how to create an email list.
How to Build an Email List in Seven Steps
There are really two parts to creating a subscription email list.
First, there is the building phase, where you create the email list and get lots of subscribers. Second is the growth phase, where you deepen your relationship with your readers while continuing to build your list and gain more subscribers.
If you want to know how to build an email list, you need to do both. we’re going to show you how in seven steps.
Step 1: Choose a Solid Email Service Provider
There are several issues to think about when you build a new email list: deliverability, responsive design, reputation, and many other factors we won’t get into now. A professional email service provider will handle most of these for you, not to mention making it easier for readers to sign up and subscribe automatically.
It’s important to check all the boxes so that your email is both deliverable and readable. A good email service provider will give you tools so you can measure, test, and track the results of your emails.
However, we realize not everyone wants or needs all the tools and advantages of a professional email service provider. If you have a small and intimate list of subscribers, such as friends and family, or members of an organization or institution, using Google or Outlook might be enough.
If that’s your situation, let’s take a quick look at how to create a Google email distribution list. (If you’re already using a professional email service provider, or are planning to, you can skip to step two.)
How To Create a Gmail Group Email List
In Gmail, click on the nine dots in the top right corner. This will open Google apps:
Scroll down until you see the “Contacts” app. When you click on this icon, it will open up a list of all your contacts.
As you hover over the left end of each contact, a checkbox will appear. Check off the people you want to add to your email list.
When you are done, look for the label icon at the top of your screen:
Click on this icon, and a dropdown list will appear. Select “Create Label” and type in a name for your new email list.
Congratulations, you’ve created a Gmail group email list! Now it’s time to send them something.
Go back to Gmail, and click “compose.” In the “To” field, start typing the name of the label you choose. As usual, Google will suggest recipients. When you see your label, click on it, and every email in your group will appear in the “To” field.
Write your email, click “Send,” and your message will go out to the entire group.
There’s one big problem with this approach. Anyone on your list will be able to see everyone’s email, which might interfere with privacy. You should only use this method when everyone on your list is willing to share their email with the rest of the group.
If you want to send an email out to your group, but keep the email addresses private, here’s a workaround:
Create your group the same way described above.
When you compose your message, put your own name in the “To” field. Then, look for the letters “Bcc,” which you should see at the far right of the “To” field. Click on these letters (they stand for “blind carbon copy”), and then type in your label as described above.
This precaution will hide all the individual emails. Each recipient will only see their own email and yours. However, there are unscrupulous people who have ways to “scrape” hidden email addresses from messages like this, so you should only create a Google email distribution list for people who know and trust one another.
How To Create a Group Email List in Outlook
If you’re using Outlook, you will face many of the same limitations as Gmail, but creating a group email list in Outlook is a little bit easier.
Click on either the word “People” or the People icon, depending on your settings and your browser.
Under “New Contacts,” choose a folder where you want to save your new group. (Most people save their group in the “Contacts” folder to keep it simple.)
Give your group a name, and click on “Add Members.”
Add people to your list, and click “Save and Close” when you’re done.
If you want to see screenshots with more detailed instructions, Microsoft has created a page of instructions.
Keep in mind that most of the steps we’re about to describe are not meant for use with Gmail or Outlook. You can use these platforms, but it will take a lot of manual labor to make it work.
That’s why virtually every business uses an email service provider for external emails such as newsletters and marketing, even if they use Outlook or Gmail internally.
When using a really good email service provider such as beehive, you also have the opportunity to segment your list so that your readers only get the emails that are specifically meant to get a response from them and make them happy.
Step 2: Use Opt-in Forms Thoughtfully
Once you have a good email service provider, it's time to create some opt-in forms.
An opt-in form is easy to build using the software available from most email service platforms, but you’ll want to put some thought into the copy. For example, if your opt-in just says “Join Our Email List,” most people are not going to sign up unless they are already in love with your business.
However, it’s not hard to frame your email list as something positive that readers want to join. All you have to do is tell them what they get when they sign up.
Matt Gray promotes his newsletter, Founder OS, with this simple appeal: “Every Saturday morning, you get 1 business tip to grow your online business.” Milk Road promises you will “get our 3 min daily newsletter on what matters in crypto.”
Another tactic is to show off the value, fame, or prestige of your newsletter in the opt-in form. For example, Geekout uses a basic opt-in form that simply says, “The World’s Most Useful Newsletter for Social Media Managers.”
Your opt-in form should also be as friction-free as possible. Don’t ask a brand new reader to give you their company name, phone number, position, etc. There are ways to get that information later. All you need in the very beginning is their email.
Put your opt-in form on every landing page, and use it as the basis for your pop-ups (we'll get to this in a moment).
Step 3: Up Your Pop-up Game
We get it. You clicked to see some important content, and suddenly there’s an annoying pop-up asking for your email.
Want to know how to create an email list without putting off potential subscribers? Be intentional about how you build and create pop-ups.
If you’ve done your homework with the opt-in form, users already have at least one good reason to subscribe, and you’ve made it as easy as possible to do so. Your pop-up should either repeat this strategy, or add to it. Here are a few tips on pop-ups:
Include a short, clear reason to subscribe (what do you get for joining?)
If you offer a lead magnet (see below), include a picture of it
If you have a short and relevant testimonial, consider adding that to the pop-up
Have a clearly visibly X or “Close” button so users aren’t frustrated trying to get back to the content they wanted
Another tactic to consider is adding a touch of humor or snarkiness to the “Close” button in your pop-up. For example, a button that says, “No thanks, I don’t want to grow my business.”
If this fits the overall tone of your newsletter and your brand, it might get a few readers to think twice before they close the pop-up.
Step 4: Sweeten the Deal With a Lead Magnet
One of the most powerful list-building tools is a lead magnet. This is simply an ethical bribe to get readers to subscribe to your newsletter. Usually, you offer some extra content when they sign up, such as
A PDF or ebook
Your best listicle (10 ways to lose weight without giving up sugar, Top 15 email subject lines, 11 tools every gardener must have, 12 exercises for rock-hard abs)
Access to a webinar or other event
A video or audio clip
You probably already have some usable content hidden away somewhere. Think about interviews you’ve done in the past, your most popular blog or video, or a recording of a speech you made. Anything that your ideal readers are likely to find useful or entertaining can be a lead magnet.
If you don’t already have anything you can use as a lead magnet, here's a simple way to create one:
Ask yourself, “What's the biggest problem or most common question/complaint I hear from my clients?”
Think about your quickest and most compelling advice for people who have this problem or question.
Decide on the best way to deliver this advice to the masses. Would it be in a PDF, audio recording, or a video?
Open up a doc and start writing, or turn on your camera and start talking. Create that piece of media and voilà, you have your lead magnet.
Now, all you have to do is create a landing page. A landing page is a simple web page that only gives the user two choices. They either take a single course of action (usually filling a field or two and clicking a button), or they leave the page.
Build a landing page that offers your lead magnet in return for subscribing, and end every social media post with a quick pitch to drive people to the page. (“If you would like to learn how to buy a wonderful house like this one, without paying outrageous interest on the mortgage, check out my Home Buyer’s Finance Guide which you can download free at this link.")
Over time, you can build your subscriber list faster by having several lead magnets. But creating just one can be a game changer when you start an email list.
Step 5: Grow Your Email Subscription List by Building Multiple Landing Pages
Once you have a landing page where users subscribe to your email in return for a lead magnet, readers have an easy way to join your email list.
Now we’re going to take it a step further.
Readers will have different reasons to sign up for your email. If you have a separate landing page to cover each of these reasons, you'll get a higher response rate for each.
For example, imagine a newsletter for a business that sells hair care products. One day, they publish an article on the best conditioners for people with curly hair.
Rather than link to a generic landing page, the article and all posts related to it link to a page that says, “All heads are different. Get specific tips for your type of hair, delivered weekly to your inbox.” If this page offers a lead magnet in the form of a list of accessories that look good with curly hair, it will be even more effective.
It’s good to gradually build up literally dozens of landing pages. As part of the research for their 2022 State of Marketing study, Hubspot found subscription rates went up 55% when companies switched from just 10 landing pages to 15.
Once you have the basics set up, start building multiple landing pages, each one with a unique appeal.
Step 6: How To Create an Email List by Becoming More Visible
When you have your opt-in forms, landing pages, and at least one lead magnet in place, you’re on your way to building a big list of subscribers.
But you need to drive traffic to those landing pages, which means becoming more visible in the digital world. This is easier than you think.
You are an expert in your particular area, and you have a lot of knowledge that would be interesting and useful to your readers.
So, start sharing your expertise. Comment on the latest news in your industry and in your reader’s world. Offer tips and advice. Use polls and surveys to find out what your readers want, and give them more of it.
Over time, this will gain you more followers on social media, and if you've done your homework, many of these followers will become subscribers.
Step 7: Grow Your Email List With a Referral Program
While there are many email service providers that can provide the basic digital infrastructure to build an email list, beehive offers one more powerful tool: Referrals.
Now, it's easy to just have a link in your email that says, "tell a friend," but beehive has taken referrals to a whole new level. Not only can you include a link in your newsletter asking your readers to refer new subscribers--you can offer them incentives.
For example, you can create a lead magnet your subscribers get to download once they have given you five referrals, and beehive automates the entire process.
You can even have more than one incentive, and offer additional goodies to those who bring you 10 referrals or more.
Most of these tactics would have taken a lot of work in the past, but beehive makes them easier for you.
If you're serious and you really want to build an email list, get going and start your beehive newsletter today.