How’s that email list looking? Is it small and ever-dwindling? Average but no longer growing? Completely non-existent?
Are you okay with that?
You shouldn’t be. Moreover, you shouldn’t have to be. Developing and implementing strategies to grow your database doesn’t need to be an overwhelming, all-consuming task. You don’t need to offer a multi-million dollar sweepstakes, and you don’t have to bleed time and money trying to invent a brand new, convoluted scheme to acquire those addresses.
Don’t let the siren call of “originality” distract you from what works. Stop wasting time and money searching for strategies that are unique and new and turn your attention towards tried and true.
Here are five simple, proven ways to grow and retain your email marketing audience.
1) Compile Best-of’s and All-in-One’s
Humans are, by default, rather lazy. There are countless people out there who might be extremely interested in your content, they just might not have the time or the drive to spend hours rooting through your archives for the truffles of wisdom buried throughout.
So make it ridiculously easy for them.
Cultivate “best of” lists that will highlight your key content. Corral all your tutorials into a one-click download. In exchange for a quick and easy sign up, subscribers will get access to the best you have to offer, saving them time and energy.
However, giving away all your eggs in one basket can result in a dine-and-dash situation—if you’ll permit the scrambled metaphor. You’ve seen it before: subscribe, download content, unsubscribe. Make it clear that people will be missing out if they unsubscribe. Offer quarterly recaps of critical content, or a monthly link with a one-click download of that month’s material. Don’t just make it easy to catch up on your content, make it painless to keep up with your content.
The allure of “easy” can only take you so far. It’s easy to sign up for updates. It’s like delivery. Why go through the hassle of going to the food when the food can come to you? Why check a website for updates when those updates could go straight to your inbox?
Unfortunately, easy loses its charm when overwhelming enters the picture. Not every subscriber will want all of your content filling up her inbox. Let them pick what content they want to receive at sign-up. An office manager might only want to receive business updates on the profitability of sustainability. A concerned mother might only want your recipes for natural cleaners. A gardener might only be interested in how to keep your yard pest free.
Don’t turn up your nose at niche subscribers. Give the people what they want, and you’ll find yourself getting what you want.
3) Install a Few Gates
Gated content is a balancing act. Put the bulk of your content behind a gate and you’ll turn away the bulk of your visitors. Reserve your gates for special, above-and-beyond features.
Think of it in terms of time and money. Was the content quick and easy to create? Don’t hold back. For example, blog posts fall on the low-effort end of the spectrum, so they should be available to the public. Content that requires extensive research or more resources, on the other hand, is worth gating. Host a webinar? Gate it. Create an e-book or white paper? Gate it. Interview a renowned figure in your field? Gate it.
Ask yourself: is this something people would pay (either with money or their contact information) to access? If the answer is yes, gate it.
4) Provide a Useful Tool
Provide a useful tool; it’s really as simple as that.
Let’s say your focus is home design. You might provide interactive forums or an Ask an Expert section (with required field for name and email, of course) where they can seek individualized advice. You could provide a floor-planning tool or an interactive color wheel.
Again, you don’t have to sweat to come up with something brand new. Originality won’t hurt, but it certainly isn’t a requirement. The key is to keep your audience engaged with you. You’ve got what they need, why go anywhere else?
5) Don’t Spam
That’s it. That’s all there is to this one. Don’t spam. No one wants their inbox flooded with around the clock advertisements, questionnaires, and other junk emails, so don’t do it.
Earlier you were advised to “give the people what they want.” Let’s add to that. Give the people what they want and only what they want. Nowadays people are more wary of giving out their email address; they’ve been burned before, and they don’t want it to happen again. Make sure they know you can be trusted. Make it unmistakably clear that they will only receive the content they signed up for. No random newsletters, no unwanted solicitations or annoying questionnaires. If they signed up for recaps of Fashion Week, they’ll only receive the recaps of fashion week. If they signed up for reviews of the latest luxury cars, they’ll only receive reviews of the latest luxury cars.
Don’t give your readers a reason to click unsubscribe.
There you have it: easy, low effort ways to grow your database. Use the above tips as a starting point and watch your email lists grow.