7 steps to start and grow your email list
An email list is a GREAT way for you to grow your online business. If you want to be able to make more impact (and sales) with less time and effort, then an email list is a must.
So how does it work?
An email list basically gives you an avenue to promote your business to a group of people who are already interested in what you have to offer. But an email list is not something that should be done on a whim without any planning. It is not just about sending random emails to your list. A good and effective email list takes up-front creating, tweaking, and testing.
The purpose of this blog post is to help you set up a well-functioning email list that will work for you, help you make more money in less time, and give you a growing number of followers to whom you can promote your business.
Imagine having a list of thousands of interested potential buyers at your fingertips every time you have a new business announcement or product/service to offer!?
So, let’s start at the beginning…
1. Create a captivating lead magnet (also referred to in this post as a freebie or opt-in).
In order to get people to give you their email address, you first need to offer them something in return. This thing you offer them is called a lead magnet.
Your lead magnet should be something that you can give your potential clients that is free and that they find very interesting. This is the first time you have come in contact with this person, so I recommend that you over deliver with the value you give. Don’t worry about giving too much away for free with this first step. You want the recipient to be in love with your lead magnet/freebie enough that they are eager to see what you send them next.
So how do you create an awesome lead magnet?
1. Know your ideal client. Know who you are trying to reach and a common struggle that they currently have. Your opt-in should help them solve a problem that they have.
2. Make it value packed. Again, don’t worry about giving too much away for free. Make this awesome enough that your followers can’t wait to get more from you.
3. Make it easy to transfer electronically. Typically, lead magnets are exchanged in one of the following forms…
- A PDF document – printable, guide, workbook, checklist, etc.
- A video file – A recorded training or webinar, helpful info you can share in a video, etc.
- An audio file – Same as the video file except audio only.
- An online quiz – There are quiz creation sites out there that allow you to compile questions that can give insight or answers to what you’re ideal client is going through by partaking in it.
- An excel sheet – If you’re an excel formula junkie and can create something that will make your followers lives easier… then go for it!
- A free resource list – If you have a list of useful (and free) resources that solves your potential client’s problem, then you can direct them to a pdf document with links to the resources or even direct them to a page on your website containing the links and info.
2. Pick an email marketing platform.
Once you have your freebie created, you need a way to collect email addresses. I prefer ConvertKit ($29/month for the basic plan) because it is easy to use AND it tracks your conversions for you… or if you are on a tight budget and just want to get started, then MailChimp is a free option (although not as user friendly in my opinion).
I recommend looking up video tutorials on both platforms before you choose one and start a trial with the one that looks better to you to make sure it’s what you want to go with.
You will create a new form (ConvertKit) or a new list (MailChimp) and adjust all the settings to match your freebie.
3. Create a landing page.
There are two different ways to create landing pages.
The first is to host it using a 3rd party program like Leadpages, Instapage, or ConvertKit. If you are using ConvertKit for your email marketing CRM, then you can create a simple landing page right in ConvertKit without any additional cost. This works well although aesthetically the page is typically a bit boring and overly simple. Another option is to use a platform like LeadPages or Instapage. I LOVE LeadPages for its simplistic design process and because the templates look BEAUTIFUL. A great thing about LeadPages is that it also tracks your page conversions for you (I’m assuming Instapage is the same although I’ve never used it myself). One key thing to look at is if the program tracks your conversion percentage for you. This is a MUST in order to improve your conversion rate in the future.
The second option is to host your landing page directly on your Squarespace website. I have done this before and like this option as well. If you’re going this route I recommend using a CRM that tracks your conversion rate for you like ConvertKit. Here’s what you need…
- A captivating headline – you can test different headlines to find the perfect one.
- Results driven content – Talk about the results your freebie will give. Most of us are in the business of solving problems… so what is the biggest problem your lead magnet or freebie (webinar, PDF guide, video) solves for your ideal client? Really tap into the feelings they will feel once this problem is solved by your freebie!
- You’ll want form at the top of the page AND another at the bottom (if your content is long) – Don’t make someone scroll back up to the top of the page or all the way down to the bottom to sign up. One form should be above the ‘fold’ and one at the bottom of the page.
- Simple and to the point – Make sure your landing page is simple AND speaks to the freebie you are giving. If they have clicked onto your landing page from a Facebook ad or promotion, the landing page should immediately let them know they are in the right place and support the wording used in your ad. Also, a good landing page only has one objective… to get them to sign up for your freebie! So, it’s a good idea to turn off your navigation links and hide your footer. The ‘sign up’ buttons should be the only links on the page.
So which landing page option do I prefer?
Well, if you’re trying to save money and get started… I’d go with the ConvertKit form embeded on a Squarespace page. It’s free (if you already have ConvertKit & Squarespace) and it works. ConvertKit will track your conversions and your page will look good.
If you have a little extra money and want to save TIME… then I’d go the LeadPages route. The templates are easy to use, the pages function well and look GOOD. I’ve found the time saved is totally worth it. I also think that my conversion rates are a bit higher when using LeadPages vs my own web page.
4. Embed your MailChimp or ConvertKit form/list into your landing page.
If using Squarespace, you can easily tie your MailChimp list to a form or newsletter block by selecting your list as the storage option. If using ConvertKit, it is very simple to embed a code block into your Squarespace site. You will copy and paste the code from your ConvertKit form settings tab into a new code block in your Squarespace site.
You can also put a form for your lead magnet on your website home page (or any other page) as well as the footer of your page to boost conversions.
(see helpful resources below to get this set up).
5. Set up your sequence or welcome email.
Once your subscribers sign up, you will need to get the freebie to them. You can do this by setting up an automation in MailChimp or ConvertKit and sending them a welcome email. This welcome email will deliver the freebie to them and introduce who you are and what your business does. Plus, you will outline what they can expect to receive from you as they move forward. How often should they expect to receive an email? What will they receive next? This can be outlined in that first welcome email.
If using ConvertKit, you can turn off your double opt-in which is what I prefer to do… this creates fewer steps and less confusion for your subscriber.
6. Test it all out.
ALWAYS, always, always test your embedded forms to make sure they will actually work before promoting your landing page (otherwise you’ll be losing leads if people are signing up and it isn’t saving properly!).
Go to your live landing page and actually fill out your form like a subscriber would. Then make sure you actually receive the email in your inbox with the confirmation email and freebie.
7. Promote, promote, promote.
Now that you have it all set up you will want to promote your landing page as much as possible! Here are a few ideas…
- Turn your Squarespace announcement bar on and link it to your landing page.
- Create a new blog post talking about how awesome your freebie is and embed a sign-up form (or just link to your landing page) in the post. Put some Pinterest ready images in the blog post and pin these images to Pinterest. If you’re serious about using Pinterest to grow your business, then I highly recommend the Tailwind app and getting some awesome strategy set up!
- Drop some ladder posts in Facebook groups to grow interest in your freebie.
- Promote your freebie on your Facebook biz page.
- Promote your freebie in your own Facebook group.
- Promote your landing page on your personal profile.
- Promote your freebie on Instagram (and other social media platforms you use).
- Talk about your freebie in a live training or webinar and drop the link in the comments.
Additional bonus step.
You can direct your subscriber to a thank you page on your website that contains your freebie vs only sending it in an email. This is a great option as it makes them happy (instant gratification!) and it decreases the number of hoops they need to jump through to receive their freebie in their eager little hands. If you do this, make sure to turn off that double opt-in and give them instant access. (You don’t want to give them instant access if they have not confirmed their subscription first!)
Note: MailChimp recently made an adjustment that allows you to turn off the double opt in! Woohoo!
Ok, I know that’s a lot… Feeling overwhelmed?
Here are some resources to help you get it all set up…
(NOTE: You will select “welcome email” instead of “say happy birthday” and you will set the trigger to send immediately vs one-day)
(NOTE: I usually select the “naked” form style option and use Squarespace to host my content and text)
(NOTE: You will create a one email sequence to contain your freebie and introduce yourself. You can add more emails if you wish for this freebie to have a specific sequence. However, I typically make a one email sequence for each freebie and then create general sequences that contain my entire sales funnel and tie it all together using a custom trigger).
Always cheering you on,