Before you can start building your email list, you need to set up the foundations for your email marketing.
You don’t necessarily need to have a website yet, but you do need to invest in an email marketing platform to house the names and email addresses of your subscribers.
There are many choices available with varying costs and features for you to choose from. You can start off with a budget-friendly, and often free option, such as Mailchimp or Mailerlite.
As you grow your email list, you may reach a point where it is necessary – and often more cost-effective – to upgrade to a platform that offers better email deliverability and features. Two of these platform options are ConvertKit and ActiveCampaign.
ConvertKit, my recommended choice, now has a free, although limited, plan. (Check out the 5 reasons I have for recommending ConvertKit here: 5 Reasons Why I Recommend ConvertKit for Your Email Marketing). It may be a good way to start without having to consider moving platforms when you are outgrowing that free option.
No matter what email marketing platform you decide to use, the foundations that you will have to set up will be the same.
1. Set up your email marketing platform.
Once you have selected your chosen email marketing platform, it is time to set up your account. Follow the step-by-step instructions to provide your contact information including your email address and physical address.
Yes, you do need to include a physical address as per SPAM laws. If you do not want to provide a street address, a Post Office box address works great. Don’t forget to set up your email templates as well.
2. Create a compelling free offer.
A free offer provides your followers with valuable content that solves a real problem they have in exchange for their email address. This is one of the key elements to growing your email list with engaged subscribers who are ready and willing to listen to you.
Once you have created your free offer, save it as a PDF and use an online storage cloud to provide a downloadable link. I recommend Amazon Web Services (AWS). You can sign up for a free account and receive 5GB of storage. Anything above that storage amount is considered pay-as-you-go, so you only pay for what you use.
3. Create your opt-in form and landing page.
A landing page is a standalone web page with one purpose and goal: to get visitors to provide their name and email address and in return receive your awesome free offer.
You need to entice visitors by highlighting the benefits that they will experience from downloading and using your free offer. This is especially important, as people don’t freely give out their email address.
Include a strong, benefit-driven headline and description. Make sure that the ‘submit’ button has a strong call to action like “Send My Gift Now” or “Yes, I need that!”
4. Create a customized thank you page.
Most, if not all, email marketing platforms have the option to select a generic thank you page. However, to further engage with your new subscriber, I recommend you send these new subscribers to a customized thank you page.
This customized thank you page is specific to the opt-in and provides more tips and more value to your new subscriber.
Give them more than what they expect. Include a link to a blog article, add some tips directly on the thank you page. Another option is to send them to a podcast episode (or video) that shares more about the solutions you are providing in your compelling free offer.
5. Set up the automations.
This is where your email marketing platform works for you – with automations to connect each piece of the puzzle (or funnel) together.
Connect the opt-in form to your landing page and customized thank you page. Set up the automation rules so that when someone fills in the opt-in form, the email marketing platform:
- Adds a tag to that subscriber. (This is optional but highly recommended.)
- Sends the delivery email.
- Triggers the follow-up email sequence campaign.
Once set up, these rules operate on their own in the background while you are working with clients, marketing your business, or drinking that hot cup of tea (or coffee).
And don’t forget to test the sign-up process to ensure all the pieces are working properly. It is a good idea to test all opt-in forms on your website and links on your social media channels at least every quarter. The worst thing is to have a broken link that you don’t know about and are losing potential new subscribers from.
Setting up these foundations for your email marketing will help you grow a strong and engaged email list that is filled with subscribers who are your ideal client. (Subscribers who are excited to learn from you and who are interested in buying your products and services!)
If you have your email marketing foundations already set up, take some time to review them and make sure everything is working as it should be.