Building an email list is extremely important for SEO. While it may not directly help you rank better on Google, a healthy email list gives you distribution. This initial distribution gives your content the momentum it needs to be discovered by others.

Whenever you publish a new piece of content, your email subscribers will often be the first to read it, share it, and talk about it. Getting distribution is a lot easier if your content has already gained some momentum.

Another benefit of creating and nurturing an email list is that it makes it easier to attract guest posts. Think about it, it’s much more appealing to guest post for a blog when they have 10,000 email subscribers than it is when they have no email list at all.

Here’s a few quick tips on how to build your email list—and optimize your current efforts:

1) Ask for an email address

This may sound extremely basic but, as you browse the web, notice of how many websites have a blog but don’t have a way to subscribe to it. If you don’t already have an email list for your blog, setup a Campaign Monitor or a MailChimp account. This will take you minutes.

If you create content, you need to have a way to capture email addresses.

unbounce-blog-email-capture-example

Notice the top lead gen banner on the Unbounce blog. It does a really nice job at describing their value proposition and why someone should join their mailing list.

2) Gate your best content

Create a PDF of your most successful blog posts and use this as lead gen. KISSmetrics has been very successful using this exact strategy. The original piece of content can still live freely as it is—what you’re doing is repurposing your content and making it available in a downloadable format.

You should only do this for top content that is worth someone’s email address. How do you measure “top content”? Look for your posts that received the most shares and inbound links.

marketing-guides-by-kissmetrics

Example gated content from KISSmetric’s marketing guides

3) Create a valuable exchange

Just like your meta-descriptions are crafted to drive clicks, a CTA on a signup form should be optimized as well. Offer something valuable in exchange for an email address helps you drive more subscribers.

Here’s an example: at MailCharts we created Email University (a free course on email marketing). By sharing your email address you gain access to four in-depth blog posts to help you kickstart your email marketing efforts. We received a lot of compliments on the content and were able to quadruple our email list.

Now that you have a general idea of how to capture email addresses, let’s take a look at a few great newsletter formats you can use to complement your SEO efforts.

1) Use a table of content

If you produces a lot of content, or if you’re promoting an ebook or long-form piece, a table of content is a really nice addition to your newsletter.

The table of content provides a double win: It makes it easy for your subscribers to navigate and parse your email and it makes it easy for you to drive more clicks to your website (each link can open the original article on your website).

smashing-magazine-newsletter-with-table-of-content

Click here to view the full email

2) Find captivating images

Have you heard of the benefits of using images on social media? Twitter reported that using a photo, on average, gave Tweets a 35% boost in retweets.

Something very similar is applicable to the email world: Photos have a tendency to increase email click-through rates (CTR). Our brain has been trained to click on images.

To summarize, here are the benefits of using great imagery on every piece of content:

  • The content looks better.
  • Boosted social media engagements: This leads to greater distribution, which tends to lead to better SEO.
  • Better emails: This improves your email CTR, which boosts initial traffic.

nvision-newsletter-with-sections

Click here to view the full email

3) Series from the blog

Blog digests can be a powerful addition to your email arsenal. Two examples we love are Wistia’s “blog digest” and MailChimp’s “from the MailChimp blog”.

These emails present very little work since all content already exists. They also allow you to stay top-of-mind and give your content additional exposure.

wistia-blog-digest-email

Click here to view the full email

mailchimp-blog-digest-email

Click here to view the full email

Pro-tip: Depending on the Email Service Provider you use, they may have an RSS feature to automatically generate your blog email digests by ingesting an RSS feed.

4) Mixing up the content you create

It’s important you don’t just create one type of content and go all in. If you do, you’re likely to fatigue your subscribers. Instead, make sure you mix up your content strategy.

Here’s what Marketo’s content mix looks like:

  • List of items (10 in this case)
  • Infographic
  • Ask questions (similar to a mini case study)
  • Checklist
  • Video
  • Blog post

Six emails in 6 days, all featuring a different piece of content.

marketo-email-strategy

Creating an email marketing strategy, however small or large, will only benefit your SEO efforts. It gives you a way to stay relevant with your audience, share the amazing content you’re already producing, and give your SEO efforts that little extra oomph. The added value your content provides interspersed with a few salesly emails allows you to do something akin to what Gary V recommends in Jab Jab Jab, Right Hook.

Conclusion

Getting started is easy. You can start capturing email addresses before end of day today. And, if you already have a list, make sure to send them updates with your latest content.

Have you been using email marketing in conjunction with your SEO efforts? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.