email lists

Step by Step Guide to Building Your Email Lists

The aim of this article is to guide you in setting up your email lists and offer some advice on effective ways to communicate with your subscribers.

We have covered the why of email marketing in a previous post.

Aren’t sure how to get sign ups?

Don’t know what to send your subscribers?

Read on……

1. Choose an email lists service company

It’s true, you could just collect email addresses into your address book and send a bulk email every now and then. We don’t do that nor do we recommend you do it either. It’s just not effective. Email marketing is a funny business and it is incredibly easy to find yourself labelled as a spammer.

Maybe one of your recipients is having a bad day and the final straw is an inbox overflowing with newsletters for which she signed up. She vents her frustrations of the day on her email and marks them all as spam. She feels better; her inbox is empty. For you and everyone else whose email address she has now tagged as spam, it’s not such a good day.

We recommend using an email lists service company. Many are free, or at least offer a free trial. Research carefully into a few companies, as moving your established list to a different service at some point down the line can be a real PITA. If you want a recommendation, we suggest you look at Active Campaign or Mailchimp.

The double opt in

You will need to set up your list to be ‘double opt-in’ which means once anyone registers they will receive an email asking them to confirm their subscription. This protects you from any allegations of spamming.

Yes, some people will not bother to confirm, but it’s a price worth paying to protect your domain name and reputation.

Add an initial automated response message to your list service, which is sent to confirmed subscribers. This is your first contact with your subscribers and your first opportunity to make them feel valued.

This is also your chance to deliver anything you have promised in return for the subscription (coupon, trial, etc). Make sure it is easy for your reader to access whatever it is you promised. Give them clear instructions and don’t assume everyone knows what a pdf is and how to open one.

You will have your own style (and there’s no point in trying to be something you are not) but I urge you to be very real in this first email. The tone of this message, and the rapport it builds, can be the difference in your subscriber opening future messages – or unsubscribing.

Don’t make this message about you. No need to tell them what your intentions are – make it about them.

Ask them what they are struggling with. Encourage them to hit reply and let you know. You want to establish yourself as a really useful resource – not just another nameless, faceless website that sends sales messages every week. Start to build that relationship and trust.


2. Think about what you can provide to your email lists subscribers rather than just asking them to buy from you

As an example, we work very hard here to find four excellent articles each and every week to include in our email.

These articles are the basis of our newsletter, “PhiloBiz Fridays”.

We cover different topics BUT every article has the potential to be useful to our business owner subscribers. We include tutorials, information articles and the occasional gossip piece.

Our criteria for selection is that the article must be worth the time it takes to read it – our aim is for you to be able to extract something useful from everything we send, which will enable you to acquire a new skill or help move your business forward.

Does it take us an age to do this every week? Well, not to put the newsletter together, no. What does take the time is in identifying really, really good articles. We read – a lot (but our subscribers are worth it!).

Using autoresponders

To save time, have a few messages uploaded into an autoresponder sequence (this is just a number of preloaded messages that go out on dates and times you select).

Your aim is to build a trusted relationship with your readers – in an authentic way. If all you want to do is spam the hell out of your list and make the sale, this article really isn’t for you.. and good luck with that.

Do make sure you have your first few messages uploaded to your autoresponder before encouraging sign ups. You can add more content over time but your first message needs to be in place from the outset so there aren’t any delays.


3. Collect those email addresses

You can build a Web sign up form via your email lists service provider dashboard. You’ll end up with a few lines of code which you copy and paste on to your web page.

Your developer or designer should do this for you but if you are building and maintaining your own site and run into problems we’ll be happy to give you a hand.

In addition to the prominent sign up form, create a designated landing page for web subscriptions too. This gives you more room to go into the benefits for your reader on becoming a subscriber.


4. Start to drive traffic to your site

You can do this in many ways but we still believe the best way is by providing useful content that people are eager to share with others. You can of course place advertisements on appropriate networks with click-throughs being directed to your landing page, but content works too.

It may seem like a lot of effort to produce outstanding content just to attract web traffic but without visitors your website is never going to provide a return on your investment. And, remember, good content can be used in so many ways. Your Web content can also become part of your newsletter or autoresponder sequence, it can be collated into a white paper, book or ebook format – as a give away or for sale.

You can do a lot with content!


5. Weave details of your products and services into your communications with your list

Educate your email lists about what you do and how that could benefit them. Tell your subscribers about your product launches. Give them something – favourable pricing or first dibs or an additional bonus – as a perk for being on your list.

Talk about the problems they are likely to be experiencing and tell a story about how you have helped with such problems in the past. Stories are always good.

Ask your readers to take action of some sort. Get them used to responding somehow.

Run surveys to ask what they are most interested in hearing about and think about how you can create a product or service that meets that need.

You don’t just want to just talk at them- you want this to be a conversation or an interaction of some kind.


6. Make a clear offer

Don’t make every communication about selling your goods and services – that’s the quickest way to encourage your readers to unsubscribe from your email lists.

But don’t lose sight of the fact that all of this effort is your pre sales sequence. It is perfectly appropriate to make some messages purely about something you want them to buy. Just do it in a way that matches what you have already done.

Make the offer compelling and valuable, be clear about the benefits, get the help of a professional copywriter if you aren’t confident about making a non-sleazy sales offer.


7. Rinse, repeat and season to taste

Continue doing more of the same.

Revisit the content in your initial autoresponder sequence to make sure it is still valuable and relevant.

Four times a year, one of us registers for our own email lists so we can see what our subscribers see and make sure we are still providing outstanding value.

Use email marketing to build relationships first and the sale will follow.

Serve your customers before you ask anything of them.

Help them before you ask them to help you.

And, if any of this causes you headaches then get in touch – I mean it when I say one of us will be very happy to help you tackle this and be headache free.


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