How Small Businesses Can Grow their E-Mail Lists without Spending a Dime

by Joe Garecht

When it comes to online marketing for your small business, nothing can beat your e-mail list.  Sure, social media is important for reaching new people and keeping in touch with your current customers, and your website is your online hub where people can learn more about you and buy your products or services.  But when it comes to selling online, your e-mail list is the most important asset you have.

E-mail is important because it’s a communications medium you control.  You can send out newsletters and marketing messages whenever you want and be sure that most people on your e-mail list will see them in their inboxes.  Unlike social media (where your posts will be seen by fewer than 5% of your followers) and your website (which people will only see if they are searching for the right terms in Google), you are in control of your e-mail marketing list.

That’s why it’s so important to constantly grow your e-mail list.  Every company and entrepreneur should be focused on building a large e-mail list and using it as often as they can.  The good news is that you don’t need to break the bank to build your list… in fact, you can find new subscribers for your list without spending a dime.  In this article, I’m going to show you 5 different ways to grow your e-mail list that won’t cost you a thing.  Here they are, in no particular order:

#1:  Give People a Reason to Subscribe

Far too many small business websites have an e-mail newsletter subscription box that simply says, “Join our List!” or “Sign-Up for Updates.”  Sign-up forms like these don’t give your website visitors a good reason to hand over their e-mail addresses and sign-up for your list.

If you want people to sign-up, you need to give them a reason to sign-up.  First, create one or more “lead magnets” that you can offer people when they sign-up for your list.  A lead magnet is a free e-book, special report, webinar, or other information product that people get when they give you their e-mail address.  Second, tell people – in one sentence – why they should want to join your e-mail newsletter list.  “Sign-up today to get this free special report AND weekly e-mails with the best tips and tricks for organizing your home, office, and life!”

#2:  Use a Pop-Up

Many businesses are wary of using pop-ups on their websites, because they worry that people will get annoyed by them.  There is some truth to that… website visitors generally say they don’t like pop-ups.  But here’s another but of truth for you: pop-ups work.  Data shows that pop-ups significantly increase the number of people who sign-up for your e-mail list.

In my experience, it’s worth the trade-off.  If the number one goal of your website is to get people to sign-up for your e-mail newsletter (as it should be), then I don’t mind frustrating a few visitors in order to boost my e-mail sign-ups. 

#3:  Ask on Every Page of Your Website

In addition to using pop-ups, you should be asking people to join your e-mail newsletter on every single page of your website, including all of your blog posts.  The best way to accomplish this is by including an e-mail sign-up box on your site’s sidebar, or on the header or footer of your site.  Many small businesses include e-mail sign-up boxes in multiple spots on each page, knowing how important it is for them to collect e-mail addresses.

Remember, every e-mail sign-up box should include a compelling header and give people good reasons to join your list – including featuring the lead magnet you are offering people in return for joining your list.

#4:  Use Social Media to Drive Subscribers

Because growing your e-mail list is so important, one of your primary goals on social media should be to drive people to a page on your website where they can sign-up for your list.  You can do this by posting lots of updates on your social media pages (for free) or by paying to advertise your lead magnet to your target audience.

When marketing your newsletter on social media, be sure to drive people back to a dedicated page on your website that not only includes a place for them to sign-up, but also markets or “sells” the newsletter to them.  On this page, you’ll have plenty of space to give all of the reasons someone should sign-up, to tell people about your lead magnet, and to promise to keep their e-mail address safe from SPAM.

#5:  Partner with Complementary Businesses

Once you have at least 1,000 subscribers on your e-mail list, you should seek out complementary businesses who serve the same type of customers (but who offer different products or services than your company) and partner with them on list-building campaigns.  

While there are many different ways to accomplish this, the most common is for you to send out an e-mail to your list advertising your partner company’s lead magnet and encouraging them to go sign up for your partner’s list to get the item… and for your partner company to do the same thing by adverting your lead magnet to their list.  This strategy can be highly effective – I have used it on a number of occasions to add several hundred new subscribers to my newsletters in under a day.

Whatever strategies you choose, remember the power of your e-mail list.  Everything you do online should be focused on growing your e-mail list, building a relationship with them, and ultimately marketing your goods and services to that list. E-mail truly is the “killer app” for online marketing.

About the Author 

Joe Garecht is the Founder of Go Beyond Clients, where he shows consultants and freelancers how to grow their businesses and develop brand new passive income streams.  He is a serial entrepreneur who has previously started 3 successful companies.

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