Imagine this: You’re standing on a stage in front of 10,000 people, and you’re about to give a speech. You start talking, but no-one notices you. They’re all busy talking to each other, or they have their earphones on, or they look up to see who’s talking, but then turn their attention down to the book they’re reading. Some of them even give you an angry you’re-disturbing-me face, pick up their stuff, and leave the room.
You go through the “testing, one, two…” ritual, the sound engineer gives you the thumbs-up to tell you everything’s working fine, but still, no-one is listening. You clear your throat. Nothing. “Uhm… we can start…” But, they’re deaf to your voice.
Embarrassing, right? Do you carry on delivering your speech while they all still ignore you, or do you leave the stage to go and ugly-cry into your hotel room pillow?
That is what happens when you buy email addresses.
On the other hand, let’s say you’re at a small gathering. 10 People. When you arrive at the venue, they’re already waiting for you, their faces lit up with excitement, like small children on Christmas morning. They’re waiting to hear what you have to say.
As you deliver your speech, they’re furiously making notes, they nod when you tell a story – as if they know exactly what you’re talking about – and when you ask a question, their hands shoot up, eager to be part of the conversation.
Now, how does that feel?
That is what happens when you build a small, high-quality and engaged list, and you take the time and effort to get to know them better and to build a relationship with them through your emails.
Do Not Buy Email Addresses!
That is one of the biggest faux pas in marketing. If you buy someone’s email address and then start blasting out random content to them that you think they want, without their consent, it’s the fastest way people will unsubscribe, block you, or even report your emails as spam.
Do you really think that people who didn’t ask to hear from you would appreciate it if you started filling up their inbox with your irrelevant stuff? Unless your name is Elon Musk or Lady Gaga, and the person on the other side of the line is actually a fan, it’s not going to go off very well.
You can easily buy 10,000 emails today. But if you were to build your list more courteously, and you only have 10 people on your list – 10 people who are engaged and can’t wait to hear what you have to say next – that is more valuable than 10,000 email addresses of people who don’t want to hear from you or even know who you are.
Don’t be fooled by the numbers. A small, engaged list is better than a big list where no-one opens your emails. Build your list slowly, and fill it up with the right people from the start, and then make sure you build a relationship with them, get to know them and understand what their struggles are so that you can help them with that.
When growing your list, your focus should not be on how to get the most emails possible, but rather how to get the highest quality leads who will engage with you, open your emails, click on your links, and eventually, sign up to work with you.
It’s an Exchange
Gone are the days when you could just ask people to give you their email address – in exchange for nothing.
That little block you put on your website where you tell people to sign up for your newsletter so that you can send them stuff, that rarely works anymore. What stuff? Updates, tips, etc …It’s too vague. They don’t have a guarantee that you’re going to send them emails that will actually help solve their problems. People usually land on your website because they need something specific, and your job is to give that to them before you add them to your weekly list. The only time people still sign up for your weekly newsletter is if they’ve read a bunch of blog posts or watched a bunch of videos and they found them really valuable. It still happens, but it’s rare, and you can’t rely on only that little block anymore to grow your email list.
That’s where a downloadable freebie, a lead magnet, or an opt-in bribe comes in. This is where you offer something in exchange for their email address.
As an example, let’s say you’ve written a thorough blog post about the first things new business owners should implement when starting a business. You then offer a checklist which they can download or access to a video where you’ll delve a bit deeper into each point. But, in exchange for getting access to your freebie, you ask them for their email. You know that this is something that they’d be interested in because they’ve just consumed your content about this topic.
If what you’re offering is something they need and they can see the value in that, then they won’t mind giving you their email address.
But before you go off and throw something together, you need to know that your freebie should be high-value and worth paying for – if you wouldn’t mind charging for the thing you give away, even if it’s just $10, it’s going to be worth it for them.
And when I say high-value, I don’t mean it should be a 50-page ebook. There are too many ebooks floating around that people never get around to opening or reading through. People just don’t have the time for it. Instead think about something that’s quick and practical that will solve an immediate problem for them. A one-page checklist can be really high-value to the person downloading it if it quickly solves a problem for them.
When putting together a freebie, think about the time or money they’re going to save, or the increase in revenue they’ll experience, or the frustration levels that will drop if they go through your freebie.
Don’t Be Shy to Promote Your Lead Magnet
If you have something that can help your ideal clients, why wouldn’t you tell them about it? If you don’t talk about it, then how will they know you have something that can solve a problem for them?
Here are a few ways to get your freebie in front of people:
- A content upgrade: This is when you’ve written a blog post, or you’ve recorded a video or a podcast, and then you offer a freebie to them. In this case, the freebie should be related to the topic of your content, but take things even further.
- Social media: You can share your free content on social media. And remember to tell people what they’ll get out of your freebie. How will their life or business be better afterwards?
Your Message: What’s in It for Them?
When you promote your lead magnet, your message – what you tell them about the freebie and why they should get it – is uber important. It doesn’t matter how good your freebie is. If your message sucks, then no-one is going to sign up.
So when you’re inviting them to sign up, make sure you tell them how the checklist or guide or video series is going to make their life or business easier:
- Is this going to make some task faster?
- Will it take less time and effort from them than how they’re currently doing things?
- Are they going to save money?
- Are they going to make more money?
- Will their frustration levels drop and will they learn something they previously didn’t think they could?
Don’t overpromise, though. We don’t deal in lies around here, after all. But don’t hold back either. Make sure it’s very clear to them what they can gain if they sign up.
Building Trust and the Importance of Quality
Don’t get comfortable after someone signed up. Don’t think that once you have their email address, you’re golden. You still need to earn their trust, and you need to start building a relationship with them. Don’t wait until you have something to sell to them before you get in touch.
You need to keep on delivering value to the people on your email list. And that starts as soon as someone signed up. As a minimum, you’d want to set up a welcome sequence where the first email will immediately deliver the free thing they signed up for, then you need to introduce yourself, and then I highly recommend that you keep on delivering value in their inbox over a couple of weeks, related to the topic of the freebie they requested.
If you wait too long before you get in touch, they’ll forget that they’ve signed up. People are busy. Their attention span is very short, and they have a thousand things on their mind. They won’t remember who you are if you don’t send your first email immediately.
Okay, so what do you send to people? How do you make sure that you deliver emails that they actually find valuable and would like to open?
First, you need to know your audience. You need to understand what they are struggling with and what the problems are that they need solving. Once you know that, you can give them what they want. You can answer their questions. You can tap into the emotional side and let them know that you understand and that you care and that you can help them to overcome that struggle or problem.
Keep Your Email List Clean
You’ll find that, even if you follow all the steps above, not everybody on your list is going to engage, in other words, open and read your emails, click on your links, and occasionally, reply to you.
Why would you want an extensive list of people who never engage? Remember that story of talking on the stage while everybody ignores you.
Here are a few reasons why people may be on your email list (apart from if you’ve added them without their permission) but not engage with your emails:
- They may simply forget that they’ve signed up. Remember, people are busy. Even if you send them an email immediately after they’ve signed up, they may not have access to their inbox right away, and when they get to it later, they may have forgotten that they signed up.
- They may have given you the wrong email address. This can be a finger error, or on purpose. Unfortunately, there are freebie seekers who just want to download your freebie, but they never intend to hear from you again.
- The email may land in their promotion or spam folder, and they simply never see your emails even though they really want to read it.
- Your freebie and emails aren’t what they expected. This can be because you didn’t properly communicate what they’ll be getting, but it can also just be that they didn’t read correctly (remember, they’re busy) and therefore signed up for something they don’t really want.
- Their interests may have changed. Let’s say they’ve signed up for your checklist about what they should do when starting a new business. As they mature, and if you still talk only about helping new startups, they may not need your content anymore.
- They may not agree with your values or philosophy. And this is not a bad thing if you’re true to what you believe and what you know to be true. To give you an example, not everybody reading this blog post would agree that buying emails is a bad thing. If I were to write an email like this to my list, people who disagree with this would either unsubscribe or just ignore my emails going forward. And I’m okay with that.
That leads me to my next point: make it easy for people to unsubscribe. You don’t want people on your list who don’t want to be there, so don’t hide the unsubscribe link from them. It’s like locking the door of the venue, forcing people to sit through your speech even though they don’t want to be there.
You should also clean your list from time to time. What do I mean by that?
Every month, run a report in your email automation software to see who didn’t engage with you in the last couple of months. You can simply unsubscribe them, or you can send a re-engagement email to them.
A re-engagement email is when you ask them, “Hey, you haven’t opened my stuff, do you still want to receive them?”
If they never see your emails, let’s say it lands in their promotions folder, then this tactic may not work. If they don’t respond to that email, you can take it a step further and send them a personal email (not through your email automation program) to ask the same thing. If they still don’t respond, you can unsubscribe them.
Examples of Lead Magnets
Finally, let’s look at a few ideas for freebies you could give people in exchange for their email address:
- Let’s say you’ve written a very long blog post. Your freebie can be the cliff notes of the blog or a checklist which they can go through every time they need to perform a specific task, instead of having to reread the whole blog post. For instance, if you wrote a blog about what the business owner/bookkeeper should do at the end of each month, with examples and detailed instructions, then your freebie can be a one-page checklist of all those things, without the details.
- You can offer a workbook to help them work step-by-step through whatever problem you’ve discussed previously. Let’s say you’ve written a blog about the essential ratios the construction owner needs to calculate and analyse each month, your workbook can list all these ratios with their formulas, and you can provide a space where they can calculate their ratios every month.
- You can write a guide or an ebook to teach them something new, like how to set up a cash flow forecast from scratch.
- You can put together a toolkit with a bunch of tools and apps, with their links, that can help the reader to be more productive or get something done easier. For instance, a list of apps every restaurant owner needs that syncs with Xero or Quickbooks.
- Your freebie can be a video – or a series of videos – teaching them something new like how to set up their accounts in Xero for new business owners.
- You can even offer a free course which will be delivered via email over the course of a few days. For instance, your course can be about the steps mompreneurs should take when starting their new online business. Each email can cover a different part of that process.
These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. You need to understand what your ideal clients really need before you create any freebies or write follow-up emails for them. If you offer the wrong thing, you’ll have a hard time to convince them to sign up for your freebie. And if they don’t sign up for your freebie, you can’t grow your email list.
Summary: How to Grow Your Email List the Right Way
Let’s sum up everything we’ve learned from this blog:
- DO NOT buy email addresses.
- It’s an exchange. Give them something valuable in return for their email address.
- Don’t be shy to promote your freebie. If you know you can solve a problem for them, you need to tell them about it.
- Your message when promoting your freebie is essential. Which problem are you going to solve for them with this freebie, and who are you solving it for (your ideal client)?
- You need to earn their trust, give them continuous value, and build a relationship with them.
- Know your audience. You need to understand their struggles and problems before you can start to solve them.
- Keep your list clean. Reengage or remove inactive subscribers.
- Make it easy for people to unsubscribe.
Your Next Step
You’re still here?! You clearly want to learn more about how to grow your email list, which makes me really happy.
If you implement what you’ve learned in this blog, you’ll be miles ahead of your competitors who just put random stuff out there, or worse, buy emails. But, what we’ve covered in this blog is only scratching the surface.
I’ve created a course for accounting professionals, Build a High-Converting Marketing Funnel from Scratch, where I take you step-by-step through everything you need to get in place to start collecting emails and then take them through a series of emails where you build a relationship with them and warm them up so that they can eventually become clients.
Here are some of the things you’ll learn:
- How to choose a freebie your ideal clients actually want
- How to write emails that will warm them up to want to work with you
- How to get your freebie in front of your ideal clients so that they can sign up
- I help you decide which programs to use for each step in the process, with tutorial videos walking you through each step
- And best of all, I have my eyes and my hands in your work with in-depth feedback on everything you create, complete with coaching calls where I help you to develop and flesh out your ideas and work through your problems and stumbling blocks.
If you’d like to be notified next time I open this course, you can get onto the waiting list now, and you’ll be one of the first people I’ll notify when the course is open.
For more information, check out this page:
FREE COURSE: Create a simple, overwhelm-free marketing plan and finally get those ideal clients to say yes to you!
After going through this email course, you’ll…
- Know how to attract the right type of clients that are a good fit for your firm
- Have more confidence in your marketing knowledge and know what to focus on
- Know the ideal marketing strategy which will be the most valuable FOR YOU (yes, we’re all different, and we don’t do cookie-cutter here)
- Be clear on how to move your ideal clients to your end goal – signing up to work with you!