Wrangling Your Email List: Strategies for Small Businesses

May 7
8 min read
Email marketing is not just about sending out the occasional offer; it's about building customer relationships. A well-crafted email list is filled with people who are actually interested in what you offer. How do we know this? Because they signed up. This is why email continues to be one of the top converting marketing strategies around.
Man with a lasso - Photo de Anya Juárez Tenorio - Pexels

Sun Tzu didn't mention email marketing in "The Art of War"–probably because it was written over 2,500 years ago. But we'd like to think that if he were around today and looking to pen a v2, email marketing for small businesses might just make an appearance.

However, since waiting for that to happen isn't the best use of our time, we thought we might take a stab at it ourselves.

In this masterclass on email marketing, we'll sling through the art and science of creating a powerful email list. From capturing those crucial leads to growing your subscriber base like weeds in a fertile marketing field, we've got you covered. Stick with us, and by the end, you'll have a battle-ready email list that you can take to war–ahem–market immediately.

The importance of email lists

For small businesses, building relationships is crucial to success. You don't have the luxury of neverending budgets or blindly moving from strategy to strategy until something sticks. Building an email list is perhaps the most affordable yet powerful tool to engage with your audience, drive sales, and build a brand. It’s personalized, targeted, and, most importantly, it’s yours.

Let's dive into the nitty-gritty of making your list not just good, but great.

The journey begins with capturing those elusive leads and actually getting people to sign up for your list. How can you do that? Here are a few options:

#1 - Lead magnets

To capture leads effectively, you need to offer something of value in exchange for their email. It could be a free webinar about your industry insights, an eBook catering to a customer pain point, or an exclusive offer. Whatever it is, make it valuable and targeted to your ideal customer.

Simply saying your newsletter is free is not enough. Everyone's newsletter is free. Well, sort of. You have to tell your potential subscriber exactly what they are getting and make sure that it's worth the price they are actually paying–their email address.

#2 - Forms, forms, everywhere

Your forms are the gateways to your list. Ensure they are non-intrusive yet hard to miss. Whether it's the checkout counter in your store or the sidebar on your website, the principle remains the same: make it easy for them to sign up.

You'll also want to put forms on your social channels and write up some posts occasionally to help your list gain more subscribers. Anyone who visits your site or your channel should be given the option to continue their relationship with your business. Just don't try to be sneaky–it doesn't work out for the brand or the subscriber, and it's likely illegal.

#3 - Funnel your list through your content

As you create content for your site, provide opportunities for people to sign up for your newsletter through your content.  This could be a pop-up or an inline form within your blog post. Ensure the placement is strategic, not distracting, and still visible enough for readers to see.

You can also add CTAs (call-to-actions) in your content that link to your sign-up page or offer. 

For example, if you're writing about the benefits of using social media for businesses, include a CTA to join your newsletter for more tips and insights. This way, you can reach a wider audience and potentially gain more subscribers by promoting your newsletter through valuable content.

Remember to always include a clear value proposition in your CTAs or forms so that readers know what they are getting by signing up. Make it enticing and highlight the benefits of being part of your newsletter community.

#4 - Make them an offer they can't refuse

Depending on who you ask, sales professionals are taught to ask for the sale at least five times before giving up. This is no different from getting subscribers for your email list. If someone visits your site multiple times or buys your products and services, then it's obvious they like you. Make it impossible for them to say no to joining your list. You could offer a special one-time discount on a product or upsell an additional product at a cheaper cost.

People want to feel special, and it's your job to make them feel that way.

Exit-intent popups are another tool you can use for your website. For some, they're annoying, but even if just a few extra people sign up to your email list before clicking off of your site, then it's worth it.

Use an email service provider to build your list

Building and managing an email list can be a daunting task, especially if you have a large number of subscribers. That's where using an email service provider (ESP) comes in handy. ESPs offer features such as automated emails, segmenting your list, tracking analytics, and creating visually appealing templates. It will save you time and effort in the long run and allow you to focus on creating valuable content for your subscribers.

You can also use your ESP to personalize your emails and make them more tailored to each subscriber. This personal touch will make your readers feel seen and appreciated, increasing their chances of staying subscribed and engaging with your newsletters.

Using an ESP also ensures that you follow email laws and regulations, such as including an unsubscribe link and not spamming your subscribers. This will help maintain a good reputation for your brand and prevent any legal issues.

Using an ESP is essential for effectively building and managing your email list. It allows you to better connect with your audience, save time, and stay compliant with email laws. So don't hesitate to invest in a reputable ESP that fits your needs.

You have your list. What now?

Now that you understand what it takes to build your email list, we want to provide you with some best practices for using and maintaining it.

Personalization and segmentation

Segmentation is how you turn a mass email into a personal message. It's like knowing every customer's birthday and wishing them well, but also understanding which products they are interested in buying–and helping them pull the trigger to buy it.

To effectively segment your subscribers, you should use a combination of factors such as demographics, behavior, and interests. This will allow you to send targeted emails more likely to resonate with each subscriber.

Personalization goes beyond just using someone's name in the subject line. It's about creating a personalized experience for your audience by tailoring the content to their specific interests and needs.

Consistent and valuable content

Another important aspect of maintaining your email list is consistently providing valuable content to your subscribers. This can include updates, promotions, exclusive offers, helpful tips and advice, or any other relevant information that adds value to their inbox.

But remember, quality over quantity. It's better to send fewer emails with valuable content than bombard your subscribers with frequent, low-quality emails. This will help keep your audience engaged and more likely to open and interact with your emails.

Regular list cleaning

Just like you occasionally clean out your closet or desk to get rid of clutter, it's important to clean out your email list regularly. This means removing inactive subscribers, those who have unsubscribed, or those whose email addresses are no longer valid.

By doing this, you can improve your overall email deliverability and engagement rates. Plus, it helps keep your list up-to-date with engaged subscribers who are likelier to open and interact with your emails.

Keeping your email list clean and up-to-date is not just good practice; it's the law. You'll learn about the legal requirements and the best practices for list hygiene that will keep your list in tip-top shape.

A/B testing

To further optimize your email marketing efforts, consider conducting A/B tests on different elements of your emails. This can include subject lines, email design, call-to-action buttons, and more.

By testing different versions of these elements and analyzing the results, you can gain valuable insights into what resonates best with your audience and adjust your approach accordingly.

Continue growing your subscriber community

An email list is not a stagnant pond; it's a living ecosystem that needs to be continuously fed and nurtured. Leverage the power of your social media presence to direct traffic to your sign-up forms. Be active, be responsive, and, most importantly, be human. People like to connect with people, not brands.

When targeted effectively, paid ads can be a game-changer for growing your list. However, don't overlook the free strategies either, especially when they involve partnerships and collaborations.

Influencers can give your list-growing a significant boost. Choose influencers whose audience aligns with your ideal customer profile, and watch the magic happen.

Your email list is your most potent marketing asset. It’s a direct line to your customers' hearts and wallets. With the strategies we’ve outlined, you're well on your way to creating an email list that grows your business and builds a community of faithful customers.

If you're looking for a partner to help you do all this and more, consider signing up with Cakemail. We offer several resources on email marketing, including tutorials, templates, and personalized support. Don't hesitate to reach out – we're here to help you succeed!

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