What is list building?
List building is the name given to collecting the email addresses of your customers and potential customers
Why build a list?
Whilst it’s great to have a few thousand followers on Facebook or Twitter, what if Facebook just disappeared? Would you still be able to connect with all those potential customers? Gathering their email addresses means you have a list to contact directly whenever you want to.
Email marketing still remains the top way to increase sales within most businesses. Whether it’s a helpful newsletter, marketing campaign or important news from your business, getting into the inboxes of your customers and potential customers means you’re more likely to get a sale.
Your aim should be to consistently grow your email list to reach more of your ideal customers.
How to get started building a list
Make sure you’re collecting the email addresses from anyone who buys from you, even if you have a physical business. Imagine you’re a cake maker, you email your list to remind them that you do wedding cakes, Lisa on your list gets you email and her boyfriend proposed at the weekend – she’s now considering you for her wedding cake!Email marketing isn't just for online businesses Click To Tweet
Most email marketing providers have a simple sign-up form you can integrate with your website, blog or Facebook page so people can sign up to your list. Sometimes people need an incentive to join (often called a lead magnet or opt-in), such as a free download, a discount voucher or entry to a competition.
What do I say to my list?
There are several ways to email your list. You could choose to do a newsletter, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. You could do one-off broadcasts when you have something key to say. Or you could set up a sequence of several emails to act as a funnel to lead people towards a sale slowly.
See your emails as a way to inform customers and potential customers and let them get to know, like and trust you/your business.
Can’t I just email people from my Hotmail/Gmail (etc) email account?
NO! This is against the law for marketing. It would be ok to email a customer/potential customer from an ordinary email account to arrange an appointment, quote etc one-on-one, but there is an anti-spam law preventing you from sending marketing emails in this way.
Individuals on your list are required to have opted-in, and must have the option in every email you send them to opt-out (unsubscribe) and personal email services aren’t set up for that.
The rules are in the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations and the anti-spam law is enforced by the Information Commissioner who investigate complaints and can issue fines of up to £5,000 if you breach the law.
Choosing an email marketing provider
There are several email marketing providers who are set up for this kind of email marketing. Their cost and features vary wildly so it’s worth thinking about what you want before signing up.
Mailchimp is a great starting point for most small businesses, especially if you want to send newsletters to your list as that’s free for up to 2000 subscribers. You can’t automate any emails sequences though on Mailchimp’s free plan.
Aweber* is a good choice for those with small lists who want more features. As is Active Campaign which has a low cost plan for those with under 500 people on their lists.
If you’re a blogger or online marketer and want to get really clever with your list then take a look at ConvertKit, it’s got huge potential when you add tags and rules to your subscribers.