If you’re a blogger, you know you’re supposed to be growing an email list, but list building isn’t as simple as it sounds. How do you get people to join your list? How do you get them to stay on your list? And most importantly, how do you create the kind of rapport with your email subscribers that translates into sales?
Meera Kothand, a certified email marketing specialist, freelance writer, and the creator of the Email Lists Simplified course answered all these questions (and more) when I interviewed her about list building and engagement.
This post includes affiliate links, which means if you choose to buy something using my link, I’ll earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read more on my disclosure page.
List Building Lessons
1. You’ve grown your list quickly over the past 8 months (from 0 to more than 1400 people), but I’m sure you’ve also learned valuable lessons along the way. If you had to start list building again, what would you do differently?
One of the biggest mistakes I made was not getting on Pinterest soon enough. It was a good 6 months after I launched my blog that I started to take Pinterest seriously. I now get most of my traffic from Pinterest and I get emails almost every other day from readers who found my content and email course through Pinterest. If I had to start over, I would focus on Pinterest together with the other strategies I tried to grow my list.
Note from Emily: I also get most of my traffic from Pinterest! For a quick tutorial on how to automatically post a new pin to all your Pinterest group boards, click here!
I would also approach list building with a different mindset. I was very stressed when my first opt-in failed. If I could start over, I’d give myself more grace and have more patience. I’d also give my opt-ins more time to gain traction before deciding if they were a hit or miss.
Creating a Great Opt-In
2. You’ve written a lot about how important it is to create a great opt-in freebie to entice people to sign up for an email list. I know you’ve also created your own opt-in freebies that convert at 40% and up, which is crazy high. What advice would you give a new blogger who wants to create a higher converting opt-in?
Have a dedicated landing page for your opt-in freebie. Consider the words that people use to describe their problems and use these words on your landing page. Most high-converting opt-ins give people what they want vs what they need. There is a subtle difference between these but knowing it will help to skyrocket your conversions.
Also think about the place of that opt-in within your blog strategy. Do you see it leading to a product or service? How does it tie in with the content that you will be creating. An opt-in that ties in with your content and overall blog strategy and plan helps to boost your authority in your niche. It makes it very clear to your readers how exactly you can help them and why you are the right person.
Another piece of advice I’ll give is that it’s completely normal if your first opt-in flops. It does for most of us. That opt-in doesn’t define you or what your blog and business is capable of. Pick yourself up, see where it went wrong and try again.
If you sign up for Email Lists Simplified, Meera will include her Opt-In Blueprint course for free to help you create high-converting opt-ins to grow your email list.
Coping with Unsubscribes
3. Many bloggers get really discouraged when people unsubscribe from their email list. What advice would you give these bloggers?
Welcome the unsubscribe! It’s hard to, I know. But if you’re packing your emails with value and you’re giving a lot to your list, then don’t worry about people unsubscribing. It’s not always about you. They could be in a different place in their life. They’ve moved on and don’t need the information you’re sending them anymore. They may be decluttering their inbox. We all do at times.
In reality, these people are actually doing you a favor by unsubscribing. You’d rather have them unsubscribe than sit on your list and not open your emails or mark you as spam.
When your unopen rate starts to rise, it actually sends a ‘message’ to email delivery systems like Gmail and Yahoo that your emails are not high quality, are promotional and not what people want to receive. Your emails will then start to land in the promotional tabs or junk mail folders.
Unsubscribes are also sparing you the trouble of cleaning your list every few months.
That said, track your unsubscribe rate and find the average. They usually fall at a pretty constant number after some time. When the unsubscribe rate for an email deviates from this average, go back and analyze the content or the subject line to find out what about it could have triggered an above average unsubscribe.
Building an Engaged List
4. Your email subscribers are really engaged and often email you to offer feedback or testimonials, or simply to thank you for all the great information you share. Why is it important to have an engaged list and what techniques have you used to engage your subscribers?
When you have an engaged list, people care about your work and they have a conversation with you. You understand your list better and the problems they have. This helps you create better solutions to help them.
But this is only possible when you invite them to have that conversation with you in the first place. I end most of my emails with a question and an invitation to share their thoughts with me. I get a lot of email responses and I respond to each one.
There are also emails where I share my personal experiences and my struggles with blogging and building a business. When you share your struggles and vulnerabilities your readers feel comfortable sharing their own with you.
My welcome email series has also been instrumental in creating an engaged list. Each of those emails has a purpose and directs the subscriber to a particular piece of content, shares a story or freebie that shares with them my values and thoughts about running an online business. People are the most engaged right after they sign up for your list. When you deliver nothing but value in these first few emails, you build trust and forge a strong impression of you and your brand in the subscriber’s mind.
Biggest List Building Mistakes
5. Between your blog readers, the students in your course and the people you coach, you’ve helped a lot of people build and nurture their email list. What’s the number one mistake you see people making?
Not having a plan for their list is the #1 mistake I see.
It’s drilled into us that we need a list and that we need to grow our list. Most people get that part, but what they fail to do is have a plan for their list. They forget to consider this critical part: ‘Now that I have people on my list, what do I do with them?’ They don’t have any follow up emails apart from delivering their opt-in freebie and a welcome email. Often, they haven’t thought about the type of emails that they’ll send, either.
Some realize that they haven’t emailed their list in months and are afraid to do so because they fear the unsubscribe. If you have a clear understanding about the type of relationship you want with your list and set parameters for the content that you will and will not send, managing your list becomes so much easier.
The Future of Email Marketing
6. What predictions do you have about the future of email marketing?
As automation tools and systems within email service providers become more sophisticated, email is going to get more hyper personalized. Businesses are going to be able to speak directly to minute segments of their list and trigger emails effortlessly with some planning on their end. These tools are going to get more accessible to small business owners and bloggers and not just bigger businesses. They already are but with more awareness and education, even bloggers and small businesses will start to use these to their advantage.
Meera’s Email Lists Simplified course covers all these topics in more detail. In the course, you learn how to nurture your email list, optimize your emails so they get open and read, and sell through email sequences. You can see the great results I’ve gotten from the course and read my full course review here.