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  • Writer's pictureCatherine Stewart

How to Start an Email List

Building an email list is one of the most important things you can do to grow your business. Everybody has to start somewhere, so just start today! Here are the steps you need to take to get this important marketing channel working for you.

1. Get Mailchimp (Or Other Email Provider With Free Starter Package)

I use Mailchimp and find it has all the features that I need, but there are other options out there with free starter packages that you can choose from.

2. Add Your Customers to Your List

Take some time to add your existing customers to your mailing list. Your satisfied customers are the ones who are most likely to buy from you again. Dig out all of your past customer details from your records and get them added. This is a task you could easily delegate to a VA.

3. Send An Email To Ask for Permission

Once you’ve subscribed your customers, send your first email to let them know ‘I’ve subscribed you to my newsletter, I’ll be emailing from time to time with my latest news and offers. If you’d prefer not to hear from me please hit unsubscribe’. It’s important to let people know they’ve been subscribed so they aren’t taken by surprise, and they know what to expect from you going forward. Depending on where you are based you should check your local data privacy laws but for Hong Kong and Singapore giving your customers the option to unsubscribe is sufficient.

4. From Now On, You Subscribe All Your New Customers & Leads

If you are in a business where you have lots of personal contact with your customers or potential customers, from now on, make sure you ask all of them ‘Do you mind if I subscribe you to my newsletter, it’s easy to unsubscribe any time.” If you are an e-commerce business, ensure you have everything set up so that people are subscribed by default when they make a purchase.

5. Get a Pop Up on Your Site

There are many ways to do this, but you absolutely need a pop up on your site to give site visitors a chance to subscribe. Make them an attractive (and genuine) offer - it can be that they’ll just get fantastic tips and support if they subscribe. You could also offer them a discount code, or some sort of freebie in exchange for signing up for your email list. Some people feel funny about pop-ups and think they will put people off, but you can set it up so that people only see it once every 30 days or so, so it’s really not that annoying. There are both paid and free options for adding a pop-up to your site:

6. Grow Your List

Your email list represents your most interested and engaged followers, so even tiny lists can get results. In my experience, once you hit about 200 subscribers, you’ll begin to see real traction. You can grow your list even faster by giving site visitors something worthwhile in return for their email address. For example:

  • Running free events, online or in person, that require an email address to register

  • Running a contest/giveaway

  • Creating a ‘lead magnet’ piece of content that people can download in return for their email address, like an e-book

Be aware that running giveaways may bring you ‘freebie hunters’ rather than potential customers, so if you choose to do this, be very careful with your target audience and advertise your giveaway in places that you know these people will be hanging out.

Increase your reach by:

  • Working in collaboration with other businesses with similar audiences to increase the reach of your offers

  • Buying media ads to promote a giveaway or freebie that gets you subscribers from their already established audience

  • Running Facebook ads to promote your list building event, lead magnet or giveaway.

7. Buy or Design A Template

There are many reasons you should be using an email template. A good template will let you copy and paste content each time you draft an email, making it much faster and more efficient. Attractive emails have a better click-through rate and having a cohesive branding presence helps customers recognise you and know what to expect. If you are creative you can certainly design an email template yourself using a tool like Canva. However, there are several places you can get a template:

Then, make a date with yourself to email your subscribers at least once a month!


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