How to grow your email marketing list into one of your top sales tools.
Email marketing lists remain one of the top sales tools for many businesses—online educators included. However, marketing successfully requires access to email addresses of potential leads, and these ca be hard to obtain.
Some people try to gain emails by buying lists, but this is a bad idea. For one, the names on these lists don’t know who you are and probably don’t want to hear from you, no matter how interesting your course is. What’s more, many of these email addresses are out of date, so sending a mass email blast is likely to result in a lot of hard bounces and a warning from your email platform.
It’s far better to go the long way about it and grow an email marketing list the old-fashioned way. Here’s how to start.
1. Tell your subscribers what they’re signing up for.
It’s all too common to see businesses encouraging signups to nondescript mailing lists without providing enough context for subscribers to know whether it’s something relevant to their interests. They’ll be less likely to subscribe in they’re worried about being flooded by emails, or if they think you might turn their emails over to a third party.
A simple description of how you plan to use your email list fixes this problem. Let them know what you’ll be emailing them, how frequently you’ll send these emails, and that you won’t use their email address for any other purposes.
It can be as simple as: “Sign up for our weekly blog roundup. We promise we won’t spam you.” Boom. Done.
2. Offer something of value to encourage subscription.
Hopefully, whatever you’re offering as part of your email subscription list is valuable enough in its own right to make signing up worthwhile. But, of course, your visitors might not know this until after they sign up. To encourage them to make the leap of faith, you may need to offer a more immediate benefit.
Popular offerings include infographics, white papers, or even free lessons or sample courses. This material helps your visitors learn more about your course and goes a long way toward reducing buyer hesitations. By giving your subscriber something of value, you build trust and increase the likelihood of a later sale.
3. Use double opt-in to make sure their interest is genuine.
If you’re offering something of value, it’s possible that some sign-ups will attempt to circumvent your system by entering a false email address. Or they may have signed up and changed their mind after reading a little more of your site. It’s even possible they signed up by mistake thinking the form was for something else.
Because of this, it’s always a good idea to verify an email address by creating a double opt-in system. Once someone enters their email into your subscription form, send a verification email to the address they provided. Again, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be something as straightforward as “Thanks for subscribing! Please click this link to verify your email address.”
The double opt-in method keeps your email lists healthy by making sure that only those truly interested in your course are subscribed. But even if someone is interested at first, their circumstances may change with time. Opting in is one thing, now let’s talk about opting out.
4. Make it easy to unsubscribe.
If you add someone to your mailing list, you have to provide a way for them to unsubscribe, otherwise you’re at risk of violating anti-spam laws. Most businesses meet these requirements by adding an unsubscribe link in the fine print of their email footers, which is often difficult to find and easy to overlook.
Then, even when someone does click on this link, the unsubscribe process can be complex, involving feedback forms, options for other lists, and other barriers to keep the user from leaving.
Don’t do this. Give your users a clearly visible unsubscribe button. If they want to opt out, don’t stand in their way.
This sounds counterintuitive, but it’s actually good business practice. Part of keeping your lists healthy means letting go of the subscribers who don’t want to hear from you. It means you focus more of your energy on interested customers, and it yields more accurate user data. Plus, it creates a better customer experience. The user who leaves now may come back in the future, and you want to make that
There’s another reason why this is important. If it’s too hard to unsubscribe, disinterested recipients might begin to hit the “spam” button instead. Many times it’s not that they actually think your emails are spam, they just don’t want them anymore and don’t realize that marking them as spam has negative consequences for your business.
Unfortunately, automated email delivery systems, such as MailChimp, track spam notifications, and if too many of your emails are flagged as spam, it could land you in trouble.
Take a look at the GDPR and informed consent.
The EU recently passed new regulations regarding how companies handle private information, and even if you don’t live in Europe, if you market to EU citizens, these regulations could apply to you.
Basically, the EU is taking a stronger step toward putting consumers in charge of their own private information. This has lots of consequences for many businesses, but for online marketers, it mostly means that you can’t use someone’s personal data without their permission, and if you ask for their permission, they have to understand what they’re doing before they can meaningfully consent.
In other words, you can’t ask them to turn over their email address without telling them what you plan to do with it, nor can you ask your users to accept cookie use without providing access to more information about what those cookies do.
If all this sounds complicated, that’s because it is. But the bulk of it can be followed by practicing transparency and acting in good faith on your customer’s behalf. Don’t encroach on your users’ privacy and don’t trick them into signing away their rights, and you’ll mostly do fine.