15 Ways to Build and Engage Your Email List

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The money is in the list! We all know this right!? I can’t tell you how many times I come across businesses and potential clients who haven’t even thought about email marketing, who haven’t implemented some sort of email opt in on their site and who don’t even know what I mean by “list.” Actually I can tell you – A LOT!  Simply put, in internet marketing, if you don’t have an engaged email list you’re doing it wrong.

Plus, sending an email means the mailman above isn’t trekking through a snow blizzard to reach your customer!!

But there is a right way and a wrong way to build and engage your email list. It doesn’t matter whether you are a blogger or internet marketer, having a responsive list that is interested in what you have to say/offer will greatly determine your level of success.

This post is a compilation of how to build your list, how to engage you list, and how to monetize your list.

Building Your List

1. Have a great offer

Tip number one is to have a great offer. You can’t build a list if you don’t have an incentive. That said, just having any offer doesn’t cut it. Your offer should be a solution to a problem your readers are faced with.  It should contain valuable information that will convince them that you have the credibility and expertise to solve their problems.

Ideation seems easy but it’s one of the toughest parts about being a marketer. If you can’t come up with any good ideas for your offer here are two ways to help:

1. You need to find out the “problem” that your site’s visitors need to solve. Why do these people come to your site? Go into analytics and search for organic keyword traffic. This will tell you what problems your users have and what they are looking for.

2. Use Google Analytics “site search” option to find out what people search your site for once they’ve landed on it. This insight will tell you exactly what people on your site are looking for.

Essentially, your offer should turn your ice cold prospects into red hot leads. Once this is done, you can focus on building a relationship.

Here is a perfect example to start us off from Nathan Barry. Click here to see how he grew his email list to over 10,000.

Note: For e-commerce sites, your incentive for someone to opt-in to your list could be as easy as a 25% off coupon code. Bonobos.com does this right when you land on their site.ecommerce email list opt in

2. Make your offer affordable-free 

The next tip that will help you build your email list faster is to make your offer free. It is important to remember that most people have a high sales resistant level. Usually, this is due to the fact that they have had nasty experiences in the past where people have tried to sell them expensive things they don’t need, don’t want, and will never use. Remember, this new user doesn’t trust you. You need to build a rapport through quality content and offerings.

The best way to eliminate this resistance is by making your offer too good to turn down. We all like getting the best deal especially when it’s free. So make your offer free. You stand a higher chance of converting you site visitors this way.

ViperChill offers free content to opt in to their email list. You can easily do the same. See the screenshot!viperchill opt in

3. Strategically place sign up forms on your site

Once you have an irresistible offer, the next step you will want to take is to place opt-in boxes in strategic places on your site. Of course this is a no brainer, however, it is shocking the number of sites I come across that have no way of letting people subscribe to them.

The most effective places to have these forms are at the top of your site/blog using a features box, in the right hand sidebar and after each blog post. Studies tell us that this is where your eyes usually wonder while scanning the site. Actually, Derek Halpern of social triggers explains how using the feature box on his blog grew his subscriptions by 51 per cent!

Pro tip: Put an opt in box after every blog post. This serves as a reminder and offers a perfect way for your readers to subscribe and receive regular updates from you.

4. Consider using a pop up form

Yes, I know these can be irritating at times however, if used right, pop up forms are very effective. With the right offer, a pop up form can help capture a huge number of leads for your business. It is one of the methods Neil Patel used to grow his subscribers by 243%!

Whether you choose to use this method is up to you, however, it is worth considering.

I’ve use PopUp Domination a lot and it works great. You can check them out here.

Engaging Your List

The next step in building a solid list is to engage with your list – kind of like how this couple just got engaged, lol. This is where the rubber meets the road. Your ability to engage effectively with your list will determine how successful you become. Here are a couple of tips you can use to engage your list.

5. Write attention grabbing subject lines

Think of your subject line as a movie trailer. The purpose of a movie trailer is to get you to watch the movie. Likewise, the purpose of your subject line is to get people to open your email and read what you have to say.

Therefore it makes perfect sense to write a subject line that will appeal to your subscribers. You can learn more about how to create killer headlines for your content on this post I wrote.

6. Use plain text or simple HTML

Once you’ve got people’s attention with your subject line, you want to make sure they will read your email. Always make sure your emails are sent in plain text or simple HTML. This will allow your readers to open and read your emails easily on any device they use.

Personally, nothing sucks more than having to wait to get to a computer just to read mail from your favorite blogger. Chances are high that your subscribers won’t read your mail if they can’t access it when and how they want it.

7. Personalize your message

Yes, we might be leaving in a digital age where human contact is fast becoming non-existent; however, this SHOULD NOT be the way you approach your list. Always address your list by name.

The science behind this is unexplainable; however, it is a very effective way to build trust, credibility and “likeability” among your list. It is important to remember that your major aim with your list is to build a relationship.

Pro tip: If the user who opted into your list didn’t enter his or her first name…simply email them and ask them what their name is. This will show that you are a real person and that you are genuinely thankful that they’ve subscribed. This might be too time consuming if you get hundreds/thousands of opt ins a day.

8. Provide an unsubscribe option

It might seem obvious but you do want to make it possible for people to unsubscribe from your list voluntarily – not to mention it is required by law to have unsubscribe buttons in each email. No one likes to be tied down to anything. Especially when it is to someone or something they don’t like. So have an unsubscribe option and make sure the option WORKS!

Haven’t we all unsubscribed from a list and the following day received an email from the same sender? Remember how annoying that was? So always make sure your unsubscribe option works.

Bodybuilding.com is a good example here. They allow you to unsubscribe from their emails or better yet manage your email preferences so you can stay connected to the company with less/more emails.bodybuilidng email

9. Make your messages interesting

Keep your messages short and sweet. The truth is, no one really reads through long messages anymore. Remember most of your current subscribers are continually asking themselves, “Is this email worth the space it is taking up in my inbox?”

Serving up fresh and exciting content will help to keep your readers engaged while also making them eager to receive your mail.

Depending on your marketing budget, you have a few options. For those that are on a strict budget, use simple text and copy that will guide your user to click on a link. If you have a bigger budget, you can design your emails in a fancy way with high quality images that are clickable. See the screenshot below to see the difference.

Simple Text from Informationhighwayman.com. This email is sweet and simple.simple text email

Graphic Design Email from InsideHook. The email goes on with other great graphics and images.insidehook

Monetize Your List

Next, you will want to learn how to monetize your list. So just what are some of the ways to monetize your list?

10. Get to know your readers

We all know that people buy from those they know, like and trust; therefore, your job is to understand your readers first before trying to sell them anything. One way to do this is by segmenting your list into different categories and supplying each category with relevant information.

For instance, you could separate your list based on new subscribers and buying customers. This way it is easier for you to know just how far down the sales funnel each prospect is and how to cater to their needs.

Note: I’ve worked with lists that have over a hundred categories. It can get a little crazy. Try to simplify as much as possible.

11. Experiment with a sample list

It is important to know that most of your attempts at selling will not work. Moreover, trying to resell the same product to your readers after a failed attempt only gets harder.  In essence, what you should do is start with a small sample size and experiment with targeted messages based on the information provided by your list.

Use an A/B test to analyze your results. Only after you are confident that what you are offering is the right product with the right sales message can you blast your email to your entire list.

12. Place banner ads

In your email message, you can reserve a few spots for ads. This is especially great if you are doing CPA offers. However, it is important to remember that what you advertise should be of value to your readers. This is also goes for promoting products and services. It is important that the products are relevant to your readers.

Revisiting the InsideHook email screenshot from above you can see the advertisements on the header and the right sidebar.


13. Use webinars

This is definitely one of the best ways to build a responsive list. Why? Simple, webinars offer a unique event that is “exclusive” and time sensitive – webinars also create urgency to sign up with “limited” spots. Webinars are usually live events so failure to sign up means failure to be part of a “once in a lifetime opportunity”.

In essence, people are afraid that they will be missing out on something that can change their businesses greatly and hence are compelled to take immediate action on your offers. Now, that you’ve got people interested in your webinar, the next step is to have a great presentation, over deliver in every aspect. Make sure you answer all objections your attendees may have an in detail. You can learn more about how to host webinars here.

Hubspot and the ContentMarketingInstitute do a great job with offering webinars.

Pro tip: StealthSeminar is a great webinar service that allows you do publish both live and pre-recorded webinars.

14. Include call to actions

Your messages should always include a call to action. Your call to actions don’t necessarily have to be about buying something, however, they must cause your reader to take some form of action that will result in direct or indirect interaction with you.

Good ideas would be to direct them to content on your blog, funny videos on the internet or surveys. Call to actions are also good ways to measure your metrics and see if your content is being clicked on.

15. Don’t ever break your subscribers trust!

Building an email list takes time and effort. Usually, this results in long lasting solid relationships with your subscribers. In essence, when people subscribe to your list they do so because they believe you can solve all their problems. You are the authority, the expert they trust.

Never sell your list just to make money and never offer your list junk. Remember the longer you keep people in your list, the higher your chances of profiting from them. So always make sure what you are offering is the highest of quality. This way you will build a reputation as someone who is not only just looking to make money, but someone who truly cares about his subscribers.

So if you ever have problems building your list, consider some of the strategies mentioned in this article. However, be prepared to put in the time and effort needed to create a responsive list.

Pro tip: For free trail sales and list engagement it’s best to set up an email drip campaign that triggers when someone sets up a free trial.

How is your list building going? Do you think list building is overrated? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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