Everyone is talking about mailing lists these days... or maybe they've always been talking about them? Either way, I feel like the subject of "build your mailing list" is always a hot topic, and for good reason!
It's amazing to have a healthy Instagram following. Even better when it's very targeted, and engaged. You may or may not have heard this a bunch of times, but did you know that you don't actually own your Instagram/Facebook/Pinterest/etc followings? The reality is that Facebook (or Twitter, etc) own them.
If Facebook went bust tomorrow, or decided to make major changes to the platforms... there is nothing you can do.
We've all heard the horror stories of someone who spends years and years building their following, only to have it hacked, or have Instagram randomly delete it. How awful would that be?! Tragic, yes. How would you reach all of your followers? How would they know where to find you? What if your entire business was dependent on that ONE platform? Scary, right.
Well, it would be much less terrifying if you had a mailing list built up of all of those people!
"But Olivia, what about GDPR?" I promise that you don't need to be as worried about GDPR as you think. If you have no mailing list at all, then you're in a great position, and have no reason not to start! You can be GDPR compliant right from the start. There are loads of blog posts out there on how to make sure you're GDPR compliant, and mailing list providers like Mailchimp have great posts too. In a nut shell though, you just need to make sure that everyone who is on your list has signed up and opted in by their own accord, and is aware of HOW their information will be used. As long as that's the case, you have nothing to worry about.
Another question that comes up often is: "What do I even send a mailing list?" and the answer to that question is endless! I'm only just getting really into the swing of things with my mailing list, because the reality is that I also spent years feeling major writers block when it came to sending out emails. I don't know what, but there's something a bit intimidating about going straight into someone's inbox. It doesn't need to feel intimidating.
Think of your mailing list as a more intimate, direct way of sending information to the people who love to follow you the most. When you think about it, people who sign up need to be pretty invested to do so! It takes some effort to pop a name and email into a sign up form! I know it doesn't sound like it should, but it does. These people WANT to hear from you, so don't hold back. Set yourself a content schedule, just like you would a blog, and start to email your list on those days. Use it to share valuable, inspiring information, and when you need to, you can sell your list things you've got on offer. Your list are going to be the people who are most likely to buy from you, over everyone else.
At the start of 2018, I had 100 subscribers on my mailing list. Not a small number, but also not huge. I'd not given my mailing list a lot of thought, I didn't ever send out emails, and I didn't really know what I was doing with it. One of my big goals for 2018 was to grow my list. As I type this, it's mid June 2018, and my list currently sits at 481. That is more than quadruple the number I started out with in January 2018! So how did I do it?
1. Create Free Resources
This is an age old way of getting people signed up to a mailing list, but offering some kind of freebie in exchange for an email is pretty normal. I, personally, give my email up quite happily if I'm going to receive something of value. So I decided to create a few downloadable PDFs for my audience. You can see all of them in my Free Resource Library (and sign up to receive them all!). The moment I created the resource library, I saw my list numbers explode. People love something free, especially if it's going to be useful to them, so creating this has been a huge boost.
How you can do this too: spend some time thinking about your ideal client and think about what they might like help with. What can you create that will be useful to them?
2. Adding subscription boxes to popular blog posts
I only did this about two months ago, but this resulted in a huge spike in sign ups! I went through my Google Analytics and had a look at what blog posts were being most read. I had a look at them, and either added sign up boxes to them if they didn't need any work, or I went and created a freebie specifically to go with that post. This way, any future readers who arrived on that post would be more likely to sign up to my list, and stick around!
How you can do this too: go to your Google Analytics then Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages and you can see which pages on your site are the most visited. Add sign up's there!
3. Tell People About It Often
If you follow me on Instagram then you may have noticed that I mention my mailing list far more often than I used to. This is intentional. I try to remind people to sign up to my list whenever I can, however I can. I realised that unless I was actively telling my followers to sign up, then they probably wouldn't! I hop on stories every once in a while and share about a freebie I've created, or an email that's about to go out, and make sure they know where they can sign up if they'd like to.
How you can do this too: About to send out a newsletter? Tell your Instagram followers in a quick Story.
4. Make It Easy
I've had all variety of ways people can sign up to my list over the past few months, as I've been figuring out what works best. I encourage you to keep your sign ups as straight forward and simple as possible! Only ask for the information you ABSOLUTELY need, because the reality is that people's attention span's are super short these days! They won't spend long on a sign up. Usually, a first name and email address is all you need. I decided to add two little "tick boxes" to mine, because I want to segment my list better. That is the maximum information I'd ever ask my list to give me.
How you can do this too: Ask your subscribers for just their first name and email address. Really think about whether you need any other information.
5. Make it Valuable
It's all well and good having a big mailing list because you've created awesome freebies... but you need to keep them there. The reality is that some people will sign up, get your freebies, and unsubscribe. That's just a given. Forget them, they're not important. However, when people do sign up and are intending on sticking around, make it worth their while! Before you ever click send on any email, make sure it is as valuable as possible. People cherish their inboxes, and receive hundreds of emails a day (I know that I do), so if I start to get any that don't bring me value, you can bet I'm going to unsubscribe. I also, personally, don't like getting too many emails from the same person day after day, so I would only ever send a few emails out a month. It's up to you to decide how often you want to email your people, but keep in mind how and what YOU like to receive, and take it from there.
How You Can Do This too: Go over your ideal client, and think about what kind of information they like to receive. Check past popular blog posts. Can you resend those, or expand on those topics?