Email marketing is a numbers game.

One key metric is how many subscribers are on your email list because each is a potential source of revenue.

Instead of a list of different tactics to apply, let’s stay out of the weeds and focus on the best practices.

Can you build an email list with little effort? Yes!

We’re not talking about buying email lists — that doesn’t work anyway.

I mean simply conducting organic email list building by focusing on what has been time-tested. If you make these best practices part of your culture and how you do email every single day, you will grow your email list with little to no effort day-to-day.

Three core email listing building best practices:

  1. Make every email a WANTED email
  2. Ask in every possible way
  3. Sell it like you mean it

These three best practices work whether you’re a B2C marketer or a B2B marketer, an e-commerce retailer, or a digital content publisher.

1. “Make every email a wanted email”

If you don’t create content that people want (and arrives when they want it), you will never be able to build your list sustainably. True, you may be able to sucker a few subscribers into signing up, but they won’t engage with your emails or stick around for long.

There is no one type of content you should be creating. Your “best” content is driven by your brand and your industry, as well as by your customers’ interests.

The best way to build an email list organically is to fulfill the promise you made when they first subscribed. That’s what they signed up for, what they love to receive and engage with, and—ultimately—share.

For example, while a B2B marketer might succeed with well-written news stories that keep subscribers up-to-date on their field, a B2C marketer may do better with coupons.

If you follow this principle, list building will come naturally and actually quite passive. Incidentally, this is also how you ensure the best possible email inboxing rate.

Digging deep into understanding your brand and industry will determine what kind of content is best, but here are some suggestions for how to make your content even better:

  • Use user-generated content such as photos, videos, stories, case studies or something else. You can run a contest to collect user-generated content and lean heavily on your social media platforms to spread the word.
  • Use dynamic content that personalizes what each subscriber receives. This is done via technology that tracks what a subscriber clicks on and then serves up more of the same. It’s ideal because it’s relevant.
  • Consider using gated content to acquire more subscribers. Create something very useful (or cool) that people can only receive by submitting their email address. This could be an infographic, ebook, how-to guide, whitepaper, case study, checklist, product comparison chart or a number of other things. When they receive the gated content and love it, they can continue to receive great content from you in the form of emails or newsletters.

2. “Don’t forget to ask”

Assuming you’ve figured out how to deliver the content people want — you won’t get anywhere if you’re too timid to simply ask people to sign up.

The principle of asking for what you want is true in email and sales just like in a relationship. It seems like a social quirk, but if you don’t “ask,” you rarely “get” because it seems like you don’t really want it.

You should ask people to subscribe in every possible manner without coming off as annoying. The more places people see your signups, the more likely it is they’ll subscribe. Ask people to subscribe:

  • On every page of your website
  • At checkout, whether online or at your brick-and-mortar store
  • On receipts; better yet, use email receipts
  • On your social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube
  • In your email signatures
  • On your direct mail pieces
  • In transactional emails such as order and shipping confirmations

Any place you can squeeze in a call-to-action for a signup, do! It makes all the difference.

3. “Sell it like you mean it”

Start thinking about your emails as having value, in the same way the products or services you sell have value. In this case, you’re not exchanging money, but exchanging another type of currency: their email address.

This means they will need to be sold on what you have to offer in order to get them to make the exchange.

Similar to the “ask and you shall receive” principle, it’s not your client’s responsibility to intuitively know how your product (in this case your email campaign) will benefit them—it’s on you. It’s your responsibility to know your customer, know how your email program will benefit them, and highlight those benefits on their behalf.

People are generally hesitant to sign up for things—but all you have to do is highlight why the value they’re getting is a lot more than what they have to give up (their email address). Always view your email signups like a product to sell.

Email List Building Tips:

  • Figure out why someone would want to subscribe and outline the benefits
  • Create a landing page that explains the benefits of signing up and spell out expectations for what they will receive and when
  • Write a tagline that appears wherever your email signup appears when people aren’t going to the landing page, like in your email signature. Your tagline might be “Get the best deals on housewares weekly when you sign up for our newsletter!” or “Stay in the know with our daily emails”

Depending on your brand, you can also offer incentives. Have you ever visited a site and been offered a 10% discount on your first purchase if you sign up for their newsletter? It’s an effective incentive because it’s so in the moment.

Remember: Email List Decay is Inevitable

As lists grow, you can’t help but lose contacts over time, so take into account list decay as another best practice for your email campaigns.

Use a welcome series to ensure you’re building customer loyalty from the start with that new subscriber and maximize the period of time they engage with your organization. Also, have a plan for inactive subscribers so you’re ready to deal with—and re-engage—them. Lastly, pay attention to your KPIs so you know when you need to react to an upward or downward trend.

The best way to conduct organic email list building is by utilizing these three best practices to everything you do. Always make every email a wanted email. Always ask for someone to subscribe. Always be selling your signup.

Maropost for Marketing can help you build a better email list, improving email deliverability, and open rate.

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