One thing most companies these days are obsessed with is growing their email marketing database. Using the Internet is an excellent way to do so – and get more customers – since there are lots of people that hang out there. (In fact, nearly 3.2 billion people are now using the Internet worldwide!)

However, getting advertising content to the people you want to draw in is becoming more and more difficult, due to a variety of factors: the rise of adblocking, Google’s vigilant attempts to filter out fluff and the general consumer aversion to unsolicited materials (etc., etc.).

That’s why of all the marketing tools out there, getting people to willingly give you their email address – so you can add it into your email marketing database – is one of the most powerful and worthwhile. After all, once someone hands over their contact info to you, you can deliver convincing marketing material right into their inbox – without having anyone trying to block you from doing it.

The Importance of Your Email Marketing Databaseemail marketing database helps you build a crowd

Before we jump into list-building methods, we want to convince you that your email marketing database is worth the time it takes to grow it. Instead of taking our word for it, check out what a few experts have to say on the matter:

  • Neil Patel, founder of KISSmetrics, CrazyEgg and QuickSprout: “Out of all the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them…Just look at ecommerce sites like Amazon – they get you to continually buy more products from them by emailing you offers on a regular basis.”
  • Corey Dilley, Marketing Manager at Unbounce: “Email marketing consistently generates 80-90% of our landing page traffic when we launch a new campaign, piece of content or product feature.”
  • Joe Pulizzi, Founder of Content Marketing Institute: “Email is critical because you can’t build your content on rented land….Getting an email address is the first critical step to figuring out why my reader is, and hopefully in the future, my customer of some sort.”
  • Noah Kagan, Founder of SumoMe: “AppSumo.com is a 7 figure business and 90%+ of our revenue comes from emails.”

And here are some statistics:

  • Email is an affordable marketing strategy. A study by Direct Marketing Association found that email marketing has an ROI of about 4,300% (source)
  • 57% of U.S. adults spend up to an hour browsing marketing emails weekly (source)
  • Email beats social media. When asked whether they wanted to receive updates from a company, 90% of people surveyed opted to receive a newsletter delivered to their inbox rather than updates via Facebook. (source)
  • 59% of B2B Marketers say that email is the most effective channel for revenue generation. (source)
  • On big holidays like Black Friday, email marketing drives the most sales: nearly 25% of all transactions (source)

The most respected content marketing experts – and straight up statistics — agree that email marketing is crucial – but what makes it so appealing to consumers?

  • For one, it’s super personal. You get to land right in a private inbox.
  • It’s also opt-in only (or it should be. That means a user was interested enough in what you’re doing to request more content from you.
  • It skirts around the invasiveness of interruptive marketing strategies.
  • Beyond that, it also works because it gives your audience access to smart, easily shareable content – they can simply forward your message on with a single click and increase your exposure organically.

Even if you already have a sizable email marketing database, it’s still important to work consistently on growing it. Hubspot reported that your email marketing database degrades by about 22.5% every year. If your audience is churning out that quickly, you better be working to draw some different people in.

Now…on to the important part. How do you turn your shrimpy list into a hefty one? Check out some of these simple strategies that have been proven to help.

Download our checklist “Ideation Workshop” and go through it during your next ideation session to consistently develop innovative ideas.

Driving More Traffic

The first step to getting people to hand over their email address for your email marketing database is getting them to simply know about your company. So, you’re going to want to drive traffic to your online content: your site, blog, social media pages and more. Here are some tips to get you eased into the first phase of email collection.

Start with high-quality, SEO-optimized content.

The best way to get people to find you online? Make yourself findable on search engines. Search engines now use SEO scores to rank webpages online, in an attempt to make sure the most authoritative and relevant come up when people do a search. SEO is no simple science. In fact, we could probably study it for years and years and never master it completely. However, here are some basic tips for creating content that can help ensure people discover your content organically:

  • Focus on the content: It’s not enough to simply have some keywords thrown up on your site. Search engine algorithms are smarter than that. Instead, focus on putting written content on your website and blog that includes relevant, targeted keywords – and that is actually well-written, with proper grammar, punctuation, etc. Also, be sure to include meta-tags that include the target keywords and alt tags to your images, so they help you get discovered, too.
  • Focus on the UX: The experience a user has when she comes to your site can affect its ranking. Focus on creating simple, straightforward UX, with easy navigation and clear instructions and layout.
  • Focus on site performance: Load time factors into your SEO score. Make sure your site or blog loads quickly and properly and functions well.
  • Focus on building authority: Sites rank higher if they’re deemed authoritative, which means that a lot of other sites link back to yours, and that your site is cited often. Work on link-building to get other authoritative sites to link to yours.

take a close look at your email marketing databaseOnce people find your site, make sure they can easily find your newsletter opt-in (more on that later!) This will ensure that all this SEO optimization actually benefits your email marketing database.

Keep a link in your signature

Another place to get discovered by potential leads besides your site and your blog? Your actual emails! Make sure all employees link up to your site and the newsletter opt-in page in their email signatures – this is a convenient and easy way for people to get to the spot where they can hand over their contact.

Partner Up

One thing we’ve been enjoying lately is partnering up with other people in the content sphere in order to co-design content that has a broad appeal. Then you can co-market it between audiences in order to expand your reach. Working with other experts to come up with an eBook, tutorial, mini-movie or something of the like can help give you more visibility. Make sure the new audience you’re targeting also makes sense for you, of course. How do you create a partnership post? Reach out to a company that does something that is related to what you do – but not a direct competitor. That way, you can benefit from being able to access their leads for your email marketing database, and vice versa.

Consider Social Media Promoted Posts

You can find a variety of ways to promote your newsletter or company with promoted posts that link to a landing page with an email sign-up form. Facebook and Instagram are good places to check out for this kind of marketing play.

Getting Signups (conversion optimization)

Okay, so now you’ve driven engagement. People know who you are, and they’re interested in what you do. The next step is getting people to hand over their contact so you can grow your email marketing database– something that isn’t necessarily easy. These are some tips that can convince people from being simple browsers of your site, to those that want to ready what you have to say in their inbox.

an email marketing database helps you reach a wider audienceAnnounce your newsletter on your site.

Now that people are visiting your content, make sure they know that you have a newsletter (or an email to send), too! How to do that? Use a helpful CTA tool that will get the info about the newsletter in front of visitors eyes, so they can begin the process of contemplating whether they’re ready to hand over their email address or not.

There are literally countless tools out there for getting people to sign up for your newsletter. And everyone has their own opinion about which ones work best (and, of course, some are better suited for certain companies than others.) However, marketing expert Robbie Richards surveyed 60 of the most successful web marketers (including James Clear, who we’ve previously mentioned as one of the world’s masters at gated content) about their top 3 tools for growing their email databases. These are the three optin-based tools that won out:

  • LeadPages: LeadPages is a company that specializes in building landing pages. They offer Lead Caputre Pop-Ups, which can pop-up on top of any content on your site, then offer a two-step opt-inform. LeadPages can also provide SMS Opt-In Codes, which allow people to sign in by simply texting a phone number with their email address. LeadPages works in conjunction with a variety of the most popular platforms (WordPress, MailChimp, HubSpot, and more). Experts from LeadPages say they have seen a 30% increase in conversion rates since changing their optin process from a one-step to a two-step process.
  • SumoMe: SumoMe offers a slew of tools to help grow website traffic. Two of their most popular list-buidling tools are the Welcome Mat and the Scroll Box. The Welcome Mat is a full-screen CTA that appears when visitors first come to your site. The Scroll Box, which SumoMe dubs “polite” – appears when a person scrolls through a certain percentage of your page (not right at the get-go). According to Nat Eliason of SumoMe, the average conversion rate for SumoMe’s Welcome Mat is about 1.3%. However, users who use Welcome Mat well can see conversion rates around 20%.
  • OptinMonster: OptinMonster offers the greatest variety, in terms of what types of optin forms you can choose from. With OptinMonster, you can create lightbox popups, floating bars, slide-ins, sidebar forms, and more to help gather emails for your marketing database. OptIn Monster can also use Exit Intent Technology to predict user behavior and predict when they are going to leave the page, sending them a pop-up before they go. Neil Patel of QuickSprout believes that when OptIn Monster’s exit intent popups are used correctly, they can give you an extra 10% lift on driving sales, and some amazing success stories show how OptInMonster’s tools have increase email subscriber lists by 600%.

Put opt-in forms everywhere

Sure, an awesome, trusted tool will help. But you don’t need to just rely on one strategy to get word about your newsletter out. Don’t be afraid to douse your site with CTAs. In additional to the initial popup/welcome mat, etc. on your homepage, consider including signups at the top of your blog posts – and in the middle and at the bottom. Basically, try to ensure that no one leaves your site or your blog without getting the chance to sign up.

Use Conversion Copywriting techniques

When you create your CTA to hand over your e-mail list, it’s not enough to simply write some words requesting the contact. You should carefully craft your CTA so that it asks people in a way that they will respond to positively! Here are some tips for conversion copywriting practices:

  • Be clear and concise. People are easily distracted these days. Make sure you get your point across about what you want (their e-mail) and what they’re going to get in return (something in their inbox). If you have too many words or too lengthy an explanation, people are going to stop reading.
  • Use numbers. According to the experts over a Hubspot, there’s a correlation between having numbers in the title of content and the number of views it gets. Numbers suggest concreteness, facts, and authority. So, they recommend adding some numbers into your CTA. Not sure how to do that? Consider a sentence like “Join 7,000 other experts” or “6 Unbeatable Marketing Tips Delivered Straight to Your Inbox.”
  • Pique peoples’ curiosity. Kissmetrics talks about how important it is to take advantage of something called the “Open Loop” when creating CTAs. You want to make it known that you have something valuable to offer, but not reveal too much about what exactly it is. This will create an open loop in peoples’ minds, and they will be encouraged to sign up so that they can satisfy their own curiosity. A good example of copy that takes advantage of the open loop: “Join the 7,000 other marketers who we’ve let it on our secret recipe for SEO-optimization”
  • Make the form simple enough. Nobody wants to take too much time to fill out info. So, make sure the optin form for your CTA can be completed quickly and easily. Leadpages swears by their two-step optin process, while some companies ONLY ask for email addresses. Ask for too much info, and you’re going to send leads running in the other direction.

Other list-building strategies and techniques:

Beyond simple CTA to sign up for your newsletter, there are some other strategies for collecting emails for your email marketing database. Here are a few we love:

Create gated content

We’re fans of using gated content to encourage people to share their contact info with you. Why? Because it seems like a fair trade to offer really great downloads, whitepapers, lists, etc. in exchange for an email. It’s a win-win and chances are if they are interested in one piece of your content they will dig the other stuff you’re sending out too.

A good strategy for using gated content to get people to hand over their contact, beyond simply asking people via a CTA to sign up for your newsletter, is by introducing the gated content in a place that is relevant on your blog or site. For example, add an opt-in form for a white-paper at the end of a blog with a related subject matter.

Offer a free demo

If you have a product or service that involves a demo, offer one for free in exchange for an email. People love free stuff and it can do the double-service of luring them further down the funnel.

a solid email marketing database gets you ahead of the gameHost a contest

Offer more free stuff! A giveaway, whether it’s for something related to your company, an Amazon gift card, or something else, will help entice customers to give you their contact info for your email marketing database.

Take advantage of YouTube

YouTube makes it easy to add CTAs and URLs to landing pages or sign-up forms as float-overs in your videos. You can also include sign-up link in the text descriptions.

Respond to mentions on Twitter with a link

Ryan Hoover, founder of Product Hunt, has a great trick for getting more email signups for your email marketing database on Twitter. He grabbed his subscription link from MailChimp and every time someone mentions him or he gets into a conversation with someone who is sharing his content he drops it into his reply tweet. It results in a 60 to 80 percent conversion rate!

Take advantage of the real world

Sometimes the best thing you can do is bring your efforts offline into the real world. If you host or attend events, tradeshows or other industry meetups, make sure you offer people a way to stay tuned into your company by adding their email to a physical list or on a mobile device.

Making the most of what you have.

Congrats! You’ve gotten a ton of people to hand over their contacts to you and you’ve built up an email marketing database. Now what do you do with the list? Here’s a way to make the most of all the contacts you’ve gotten.

Segment your list.

Not everyone in your email marketing database is going to want or be interested in the same thing. To get better results (i.e. email opens, clicks, etc.) from your list, it can help to segment email campaigns, and then send more specific, targeted emails to certain segments of customers. Email experts MailChimp found that segmentation can have a huge impact on email success rates:

  • Segmented lists have 14.37% higher open rates than non-segmented campaigns
  • Segmented campaigns get 64.78% more clicks than non-segmented campaigns

Some ideas for segmenting? Perhaps you could offer downloadable lists and guides to some, breaking news updates to others, weekly emails vs. monthly emails, etc, based on their preferences.

Help your subscribers help you grow your database.

Your subscribers are one of your most powerful marketing tools. They signed up and are reading your emails because they like you – so why not ask them to share the love? Include social sharing buttons and one of those handy “Email to a Friend” buttons in all of your emails. Programs like MailChimp and Aweber make this stuff easy.

Don’t forget to do a spring cleaning

Every once in a while you might want to check in with your subscribers to make sure they still want to be a part of your email marketing database. You can remove the people who don’t respond. Cleaning up your list will help you focus on more promising leads and leave others alone.

Drip Marketing: Don’t Allow Radio Silence

When people sign up for your email marketing database, act while the time is ripe! Send an email immediately confirming their subscription and offering content of value. That way they will hear from you while you are fresh on their minds rather than days later when they’ve already forgotten that they signed up. Otherwise they may unsubscribe before you can develop a relationship.

Then after the initial e-mail keep steady, regular e-mails coming their way (but not too frequently). You don’t want to bombard them but you also don’t want them to lose interest or fail to find the value in being a subscriber. According to a study done by Vero, the open rate for an email series is 80% higher than that of single email campaigns.

You can set up automated campaigns that are triggered by an action in a previous e-mail. This can weed out people who aren’t actually interested in your business, product, or info.

Test and re-test

As with any marketing strategy, you’ll want to test out different messaging and approaches to building your email marketing database. Test everything you can – headings, buttons, CTAs, etc. to find out what is helping you collect emails and get shared. They all offer opportunities for you to improve.

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