HOW TO GROW YOUR EMAIL LIST: INFLUENCER EDITION
We all get so caught up with our social media numbers that we often forget how important our email list is for the sustainability and growth of our business. Here at Sidewalker Daily, we work with bloggers and influencers to help them create sustainable businesses and we often find ourselves answering two very important questions: “how to grow your email list” and “why is it so important.”
We’re going to tell you something shocking…your email list is actually more valuable than any of your social accounts. Yes, you heard us right. Since we practice what we preach, we’re going to walk you through why you need to shift your focus to growing your email list and also give you some ideas on how to start ASAP.
And if an email list has never crossed your mind, or you have one but don’t really give it any love, don’t worry, by the end of this article we’re positive it will be at the top of your to-do list. :)
Why is an email list so valuable?
There is a laundry list of general reasons why an email list is so valuable to a company but let’s stick to the main reasons that are relevant to you as an influencer, blogger or content creator.
1) They Are Vetted. People don’t give their email address out to just anyone. People that are signing up to hear from you ACTUALLY CARE about what you have to say and that makes them extremely valuable to you and your business. Think about it, since this group of people is both relevant to your niche and trusts you, they are the type of people your brand partners want to target too. Having a vetted and solid email list can be a huge plus when pitching to brands and makes a great recipe for leveraging your influence whether now or in the future.
2) Emails Are Important Because They Convert. Since emails feel so personal they can be a huge factor in driving someone over the edge to purchase a product or service. According to a report by Optinmonster, 66 percent of users make a purchase through email compared to 20 percent on Facebook and 10 percent on Twitter.
Think about all the social channels you have access to – Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter – they are all great for providing content to your followers but not always the best if you’re trying to pitch something to sell.
For example, if you’re posting something on Instagram, you have to hope they click “more” to read the entire caption, spend the time to actually read it and not get bored and then click over to your bio to find the link you’re trying to get them to click. It’s a lot of steps and the information is spread out, where in an email, it’s super easy for someone click a link to purchase.
3) You Actually Own Your Email List. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that all the time we’re putting into growing our social followings and accounts could one day be a waste. We get that you feel a sense of ownership over your social accounts (we do too) but the reality is, they aren’t yours. If Instagram gets sold one day and the new parent company decides to shut it down (like they did with Vine) then poof, all your hard work was for nothing.
On the other hand, your email list is something YOU OWN and no one can take that away from you. Of course we understand that social accounts are extremely important for your business but if everything gets taken away, your email list will be the last man standing.
4) Emails Don’t Fall Victim To Social Algorithms. When you send someone an email, it lands in their account. Ok yes, they may not open it but at least you know it’s there! A study by Optinmonster shows that email reaches 79 percent of people you send the email to compared to Facebook, which has an organic reach of 1%-6% (depending on your total number of fans).
When it comes to the ever changing algorithm, we all post on social but don’t even know who actually sees our content. It’s a game of crossing fingers and hoping a new algorithm shift won’t affect your account too much!
5) Emails Are Great For Affiliate Sales. If you do affiliate sales to earn money from your influence then you know that if you had to pick any way to get in touch with someone, it would most likely be email, right? Yes, social channels make it way more fun, but they are much more difficult to convert someone because of all the extra steps involved. So if you monetize by affiliate sales you’re going to want to increase your email audience as soon as possible!
6) Emails Make Brands Excited. Companies love email lists because they know emails work. If you have an engaged email list and can include an email as part of your partnership package, it’s a huge win for brands. They believe in email and are always thinking, “what will it take to get my money back” – after all they are looking for ROI. So to them, email is more of a safe bet than the glitz and glam of social media. And if you have a super engaged email list, make sure to let brands know in your media kit!
7) Emails Give You Detailed Analytics. A great way to know your audience better is to understand what they like, what they don’t like and how to best serve them. Emails are an awesome way to dive deeper into getting to know your audience and their demographics which you can leverage in your pitching efforts. Brands are no longer throwing money at anyone that calls themselves an “influencer.” They want to know about your audience and if it aligns with the customers they are looking to target.
So now you get it – emails are digital gold. If you’re serious about taking your business to the next level you need to start focusing your efforts on building an email list. Think about it, do you think most fashion companies offer you a big discount on your first purchase if you sign up to be on their email list because they are nice? Heck no! They know how valuable emails are for their company and are willing to invest in gathering that info.
And so should you!
But before we get into how to grow your mailing list, let’s talk about some regulations you should know about.
Learning to grow your email marketing list is exciting stuff but before you do, it’s important that you are up to speed on email regulations. There are some major laws that relate to email marketing and how you can collect and use peoples’ emails, especially since countries are cracking down on privacy rights. Because this article is focused on how to grow your email list, we’ll be giving you the spark notes version of what you should know before you start.
Although there is no universal law on this as of yet, many countries have their own laws and regulations to protect their citizens’ privacy when it comes to email. For example, in the United States we have the CAN-SPAM Act and the European Union has GDPR which actually has worldwide impact. The laws and regulations on this can be tricky since a lot of factors come into play – where you’re based, where the user is based etc., which can be especially hard in this global world. We think it’s better to be safe than sorry and play by the rules.
Although here at Sidewalker Daily we’re a bunch of business and marketing professionals who work with bloggers and influencers on a regular basis, we’re not your personal lawyer or business advisor. So with that said, since every business and legal situation is completely different, you should always seek advice from a lawyer who knows the laws of your specific country to clear up any questions you may have. In the meantime, here are some major things you should know about the CAN-SPAM Act and GDPR before you start to grow your email list.
CAN-SPAM Act: The US enacted the CAN-SPAM Act to set some rules for commercial email and messages. The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) spells out the rules pretty simply. The main ones you need to know about are:
- You have to tell the email recipients where you are located by providing a valid physical address.
- You have to tell email recipients how to unsubscribe from getting future emails from you.
- If someone unsubscribes, you have to honor their request ASAP and don’t wait.
- Don’t use fake header information or sketchy subject lines – they need to reflect what’s in the message. For example, don’t say “You’ve won a prize” in your subject line but then your email is about your recent cruise to Alaska.
If you want to learn more about the CAN-SPAM Act and all the specific regulations that go along with it, head over to the FTC website: www.ftc.gov.
GDPR: The European Union enacted their new privacy law on May 25th, 2018 and many businesses are still trying to decode what it all means for them. What we do know is that you have to get affirmative consent (“freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous”) on how you’ll use someone’s email. They have to agree to how you’ll use their data (it can’t be a pre-checked box) and you can’t use their email for a different purpose later on – no bait and switch allowed (unless of course you get their consent again in the future).
For example, if you get someone’s email to send them a Lightroom preset that they bought on your website, you can’t just put them on your email newsletter list without asking them. What you can do is ask them when purchasing the Lightroom preset if they would like to be put on your newsletter list and let them opt-in to that type of communication.
You have to track people’s consent. This is so if you’re ever called to show that you got someone’s affirmative consent to send them emails, you can provide the evidence as to who/when/how they gave you the “ok,” what they were told and whether they’ve withdrawn consent.
You have to make it super easy for them to WITHDRAW consent and tell them how to do it. This is pretty simple if you’re using any major email providers but nonetheless, make sure there is a way to unsubscribe in every email communication you send.
There are A LOT of other things you should know if you have a blog or website as it relates to GDPR but we just grazed the surface of email for this article.
Even if your country is lackadaisical when it comes to email regulations as of now, we come from the school of thought that it’s better to prepare for more strict laws (like GDPR) because cracking down on privacy is a trend that many countries are starting to follow. You want to do everything you can now to prepare so you don’t lose the right to email your list in the future!
How to grow your email list right now.
You may be thinking ok, I get how important emails are now but where do I even start? An important thing to remember is it’s not the SIZE of your list it’s the QUALITY of your list. So just as not every Instagram follower is created equally, neither is any email subscriber. You want to spend your time and energy finding people who actually care about what you have to say and will value your content. There is nothing worse than sending out emails to a big list, and no one reading them…
There are tons of different methods to grow your email list fast but let’s go over some ways on how to grow your email list that may actually get you quality email subscribers, not just anyone.
1) Get Your Followers On Social To Join. A good place to find people who value your opinion and advice is to start on social. If they are already following you on Instagram, there is a good chance they may want to hear more of what you have to say. Let them know in a social post or Insta Story about your newsletter and all the amazing things you’ll be sending their way. Include the sign up link in your account bio and even a “swipe up” feature to make it super easy for them to join. And if you’ve already sent out amazing emails to your list, consider showing them what they’re missing to incentivize them to make the leap! You can also promote an offer on social and say for the first X amount of people who sign up they will get a discount on your lightroom presets or another gift (within reason of course)!
2) Create An Opt-In Incentive. An opt-in incentive or “lead magnet” is an incentive (usually digital content) that companies offer people in exchange for their email address. You can create a downloadable guide, ebook, packing list, etc. – basically something that someone would want to download right away. Because it’s a valuable piece of content, in return you aren’t charging them but instead asking them for their email. Word to the wise, after you create your “lead magnet” and it comes out amazing you may start to see dollar signs in your eyes and think why in the world would I give this for free? But let us remind you how valuable emails are – they are worth paying for so don’t be blinded and stick to the plan!
And one more thing – make sure you’re complying with new privacy laws such as GDPR when collecting emails. It would be a total waste if you do all this work to collect a list of emails but then can’t actually use them. One of the main things with GDPR that relates to opt-ins is making sure the person inputting their email consents to the exact type of emails you plan to send them. If you’re going to send them a free download then they will have to also opt-in (using a check box or email trigger) to consent to hearing from you about other things like product offerings or an email newsletter etc.
And even if you don’t focus on people in the EU (which is pretty hard not to if you’re a travel influencer/blogger) we suggest you comply anyway since other countries are probably not far behind on updating their email regulations.
3) In-Person Networking. If you’re at a local networking event or travel conference, make sure you collect business cards! If you meet someone you think may benefit from being on your email list and the type of content you provide, feel free to ask if it’s ok for you to add them to your list. If they say yes, make sure to make a note somewhere that they gave you permission and when/where you got the card (in order to comply with new regulations such as GDPR). Remember that emails are personal and valuable so if someone doesn’t agree don’t let it get to you and definitely don’t make it a big deal.
4) Capture Website Visitors. It’s hard to collect emails on your website if there is no place for someone to enter their email! Definitely have email sign up forms strategically placed on your website. For starters, you should have one near the top of your website and then some additional forms around your site. If users are finding your website organically through SEO and you serve great content then it should be an easy conversion.
If you’re driving traffic to your blog you definitely want to ask them to stick around for more amazing things from you! So have an option on the side of your blog articles or have a pop up that will trigger them to sign up for your list. You may even want to consider having a subscriber testimonial near your opt-in box that says what amazing things you send their way!
5) Drive Traffic From Pinterest. If you’re the queen of Pinterest and spend time pinning and re-pinning and getting new followers, then make sure all the pins that link to your site work! Pinterest is a search engine just like Google so make sure your pins are optimized with keywords so people who would love your content can actually find them! And if you’re promoting your blog posts or website in general, then make sure there are no broken links and when someone clicks on a pin it takes them straight to your site. Then of course, don’t forget to have a place for them to enter their information readily available!
6) Host a Webinar. Are you a Lightroom pro or expert at editing videos? Host a free webinar to teach your audience some tricks of the trade to help them improve THEIR life and business. And how does this grow your email list? Make signing up via email a requirement to register and ask them to opt-in to hear from you for more! If someone is already putting in their email to sign up, it’s super easy to have a box nearby that they can click to sign up for your email list.
7) Cross-Promote With A Complimentary Blogger/Influencer. Does your blog offer tips and tricks on how to edit photos and your best Insta friend does the same but just for video? Consider cross promoting to help grow each others email lists!
8) Offer A Discount. If you sell a product, service or even digital product like Lightroom presets, consider offering a percent off their first purchase for first time e-mail subscribers. This is one of the main ways that fashion companies grow their email lists but doesn’t mean we can’t implement this method in the blogger/influencer world! Just make sure you have the little opt-in box nearby for them to click when putting in their email so they can sign up to hear from you about other things too!
9) Incorporate Social Sharing Buttons. If you use an email service provider like Mailchimp, make your email newsletters easily shareable with social sharing buttons. That way your audience can easily share what you have to say with their family, friends and community. Chances are they may love your content too and sign up to be on your email list!
Once you have emails, now what?
Before you go email happy, we strongly recommend coming up with an email strategy to build a strong relationship with your list. Think about your email list like any relationship – people don’t just want to hear from you when you need something. They want a flow of communication that’s equally beneficial.
Let’s go over some ideas on how to best relationship build and some important things to think about when coming up with your strategy.
Talk To Your List Regularly. You have to talk to your list but the key is how to best do that? A good way to start is to think about how YOU consume content. Do you like receiving a marketing email from a company daily? Probably not. So your list most likely won’t want to hear from you every day either. Try to communicate with them at least once a month but whatever you decide, commit to a schedule and stick to it.
Connect With Your Audience. People get so many emails every day you have to think about why they would want to open yours? Is it your tone, do you get personal, do you give them something in your emails that they can’t live without? Just like you do on your blog and social accounts, talk to them directly, be human and engaging.
Provide Value. Not one wants an email that is pointless because it’s just a waste of time. If you are going to send an email to your list make sure there is something of value for them or at least it’s super interesting. The more you provide value and amazing content, the more likely people will recommend you to their friends and also actually open your emails!
Subject Line. It seems silly to think that your subject line is one of the most important parts of your email but let’s be real – out of the sea of emails in someone’s inbox, it needs to be enticing enough to have someone click and open yours.
Open Rate: Keep track of your open rate, which is the amount of people who actually open your email (not just receive it). If you’re using email providers such as Mailchimp or Convertkit they will track these analytics for you so not to worry. But keep in mind, sending an email to a huge list means nothing if no one opens your email because then no one is hearing your message. Understanding your open rate is also great so you can figure out the types of emails your readers like and dislike so you can always be perfecting your content. You want to constantly be working to optimize their experience with you!
Click Rate: If you’re including links in your emails then make sure you’re keeping track of how many people click those links as well. This is helpful information to know when you’re doing brand partnerships. It can also give you confidence when pitching to brands because you know your track record and how many people actually may click the link you’re promoting.
For example, if you send out an email about a new product and 50 email subscribers click the link, you know that 50 people on your email list (out of the people that opened the email of course) were directly interested in that offer. It can give you confidence when pitching to brands because a lot of times people don’t know when they are ready to start monetizing their influence. Having these analytics will definitely help guide the direction of your business and also help you to keep constantly improving and getting better!
Tip: If you have an engaged email list and offer an email campaign in a brand partnership, you’ll also have all these trackable analytics to provide in your recap to brand partners. You can even create a case study for your media kit to show how you can drive sales and provide real value to your clients!
A few extra tips to consider when building an email empire.
The Golden Rule. Treat email subscribers like you would want to be treated. Once you lose them it’s hard to get them back.
Think Ahead. Even if you’re not sold on the whole building an email list right now thing or you don’t think you need it – try to envision your future plans. Try to project the various ways your business could pan out and how you may be able to use your email list in the future. For example, do you want to start a swimsuit line in a few years or organize blogger retreats to far away countries? The first place most people start when launching a new product or service is with their email list. Thinking ahead may give you the motivation you need to start now and build your email list slow and steady.
Never Sell or Give Someone’s Email To Another Person or Company. Yes, sharing is caring but not when it comes to people’s email and contact information. Despite the fact that it’s illegal, it’s also just yucky. They signed up to hear from YOU and you only. Don’t make them feel used!
Make Sure There Is A Way to Unsubscribe. If you’re sending out mass emails with an email provider they should automatically add a method for users to unsubscribe but if not, make sure it’s easy for them. If they ask to be taken off your list, make sure you delete their email so you don’t accidentally send them something in the future.
So now you know how to grow your email list but we need to tell you one last very important thing. What if you spend all this time to grow your email list and people sign up to hear from you then unsubscribe?
You should think, “amazing, see ya never!”
If this happens, definitely don’t get your feelings hurt because people unsubscribing is the best way to keep your email list clean and full of engaged followers who are true fans. It’s really a blessing in disguise so try to change your mindset. Just like on social media, it’s better to have fewer engaged followers then tons of followers who aren’t loyal.
We hope you now have some actionable steps to start growing your email list and audience ASAP. You now understand how valuable every email sign up is to the future of your business and once you start on the email train you won’t want to stop!