If you’re a new business owner or operator wondering how to build an email list, rest assured you’re not alone. Email is one of the most – if not the most -effective online marketing channels today, but it’s also a tough nut to crack.
As the internet seems to be overtaken by social media likes and memes, email is still the gold standard for customer communication, and if used correctly it can be a very effective way of generating sales and ensuring customer loyalty. An established and extensive email marketing list can also increase the value of your website because buyers value sites that have already built up a customer following.
Getting customer email addresses can be tricky, though. Research shows that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one, and so you should expect to dedicate a significant level of resources to building your email list.
There are, however, some techniques that can be very effective in maximizing the time and money you spend on collecting email addresses. In this article, we’ll show you five of them.
1. Create A Personalized CTA
A core principle of marketing your email list – and, in fact, a core principle of any kind of marketing – is to make your CTAs as specific and personal as possible.
When building the CTAs on your website, you should remember that the vast majority of your visitors are looking for something specific, and not just cruising the web in the hope they find something useful. Let’s say a particular page on your site is attracting a lot of traffic, and that page is called “List-Building Strategy”. Instead of a generic CTA like “sign up for our email newsletter”, make a specific CTA for that page that invites customers to “enter your email to receive our list-building toolkit”.
Research conducted by HubSpot has found personalized calls-to-action have a 42% higher view-to-submission rate than generic CTAs.
2. Pop-Ups and Slide-Ins
Using pop-up windows is something of an art form. We all know that pop-ups can be really irritating, but they can also be very effective in prompting visitors to give you their email address.
Most of the best website builders today offer advanced tools for targeting and timing your pop-ups, and you should use them. One strategy is to time your pop-ups so that they only appear after a visitor has spent a certain amount of time on your site. This means that they have a chance to read about what you are offering, and are less likely to be annoyed by the prompt.
This was the approach that Digital Marketer used in a case study, and it was very successful. By timing a pop-up to appear after 15 seconds, they managed to generate 2,689 leads in two weeks, and increased their average time on page by 54%. They also made sure that these pop-ups highlighted the value of subscribing to their email list, which we’ll come to shortly.
Using humor in your CTAs can also be a very effective way of reaching your customers. Today, we are so used to CTAs popping up on every site we visit that in most cases we just ignore them. Injecting a bit of personality into your CTAs with specific phrases and techniques can be a great way of cutting through the noise.
Your aim should be to show that your business is run by humans and that you are trustworthy and friendly. Using humor is a good way to do that, and can also help you to quickly build up a strong eCommerce community: if your customers feel that they are dealing with a friend rather than a faceless business, they reward you with increased loyalty.
4. Highlight Value
Perhaps the most important aspect of your CTA is the value it offers to your customers.
Just think about the email lists that you subscribe to. If you haven’t marked a particular company’s emails as spam, that’s likely because you find them genuinely useful. No one wants another generic email newsletter so create inviting newsletters and be unique. What they want is information that is timely and relevant, delivered to them directly.
In practice, this means that you should avoid asking your customers to “sign up” or “subscribe” to your email list. Instead, make it clear what your emails can offer your customers: “download our exclusive content”, or “get access to our in-depth guides.” If you find yourself stuck for an enticing idea, consider producing an industry specific product. This company keeps the sign-up business brisk with free invoice templates for small business owners, which offer real world value beyond the the nebulous promise of a weekly newsletter.
Varying and personalizing your email content in this way also has another huge advantage: it makes it less likely that your emails get automatically marked as spam, and deleted. Email systems are now pretty good at detecting the most common email scams, and they do this by checking if your emails are too generic. In short: personalize your content, and your customers actually receive it.
5. Pitch Your Email Newsletter On Social Media
If you really want to build an email list quickly and effectively, social media must be a part of your strategy. Move away from the standard content-based CTAs, and use your social media profiles to pitch your email newsletter. The people who are following your business on social media are already interested in what you are doing, after all, so it makes sense to take advantage of this interest.
Using social media to promote a new business is best when you leverage the power of these channels, rather than relying on your customers checking their social media feeds. Use your social media posts to stress the variety of ways that your customers can stay engaged with your business – including your website and your email newsletter – and you can ensure that you are using every channel you have available.
Further, make sure that you’re sending an email to your social media followers when they’re most likely to open it. Research shows that the best time to send email is in the evening around 6-7pm, and then again later at night after 9pm.
Going Further: How To Build Your Email List
These five tips should get your email marketing list off to a great start, but remember that email marketing is a process, not an event. You need to continually vary your content and offer to keep existing customers engaged, and you should try to ensure that your email marketing list is constantly growing.
Once you have established a list, you should also make sure that you regularly audit it. Make sure that you are storing personal information safely, and delete any emails that don’t work. Above all, keep your email content fresh, and make every email valuable to your customers, and they’ll want to keep reading them.
A VA should be one of the first hires you make as an entrepreneur, and is one of the most important. A motivated, skilled VA can take many of the most time-intensive tasks off your hands, and let you focus on the strategic direction of your business.
Hiring a VA can be a little tricky, however, particularly for entrepreneurs who are inexperienced when it comes to managing the recruitment process. In this guide, we’ll give you a simple process for making sure that you get it right first time.
Do You Need a VA?
First, though, let’s take a more detailed look at whether you need a VA. Spoiler alert: you probably do.
If you’ve built your business yourself, it can be difficult to pass over responsibility for key tasks to someone else. The truth, though, is that you are probably doing a lot of tasks that you don’t need to be doing. Whether you are trying to leverage video marketing, or increase your Twitter following, you need to be aware that every task you do has an effective dollar value.
And if you are spending your time on tasks that are of low value to your business, your income is never going to rise.
The first step in hiring a VA is therefore to work out the actual dollar value of all of the tasks you do. Then you can take the lowest-paid tasks, and delegate them to your VA. This approach will also mean that you are sure to see an ROI for your new hire, because you know the exact value of the work they are doing.
Hiring a VA: The Five Steps To Success
Once you’ve decided to take the plunge, there are five steps to making sure you hire the best VA possible.
1. Document The Tasks You Want to Outsource
Once you’ve completed your audit of the tasks you do, you should have a really good idea of which tasks you are going to pass on to your new VA. This list of tasks forms the basis for the hiring process, so make sure that you spend the time to make it comprehensive.
From this list, you can then produce training materials to show your new VA how to complete their tasks, and create a handbook of Standard Operating Procedures (SOIs) for these tasks. To learn how to write effective Standard Operating Procedures, check out this guide.
2. Create a Detailed Job Description
From your task list, you’ll be able to get a good idea of the level of education you are looking for in a VA, and the specific skills they will require. Of particular importance is that they already know how to use all of the systems you use in your business.
You can then work up a Job Description for the VA role. This should include:
- Background information about your business (your industry, what you sell, and who your clients/customers are)
- Level of education, experience, and/or skills required
- List of duties and responsibilities
- List of any apps, tools, or software they will be using
The more detailed you can be in the job description, the better. Not only does this help you find the right VA for the job, but it also crystallizes your thinking – forcing you to ask, “Who or what, exactly, will this position require??
The next step is to advertise your role. Though some entrepreneurs like to post jobs on Craigslist, in reality it pays to advertise your position as widely as possible. That way, you can be assured that the best qualified candidates will see it.
There are some sites that are used specifically to hire VAs, and they are a great place to start:
4. Schedule Interviews
Now we get to the most difficult part of any hiring process: finding the best candidate. After you’ve reviewed the applications you receive, you should immediately have a good idea of the 5 – 10 most qualified candidates for the role.
Schedule interviews with these candidates. Video calls are great for this, because you can quickly find out how easy it is to communicate with your candidates, and what it will be like to work with them.
You should definitely ask about their work experience and skills, but don’t stop there. It’s also important to ask candidates about their hobbies, how they like to work, and their values.
Conflicting values can quickly become a source of friction in a relationship, particularly when it comes to the value of security and privacy. As Will Ellis, Director of Research at security advocacy group Privacy Australia points out, “you need to ensure that all of your staff take your business as seriously as you do.”
With growing concerns over cybersecurity and data privacy, every VA you hire is a potential point of attack for would-be hackers through social engineering attacks. When conducting interviews, it’s important to filter out any candidates that have a cavalier attitude towards their own privacy, because they would carry that behavior into your business as well.
5. Trial Periods
Once you’ve identified the top candidate, you should hire them on a trial basis to begin with. Even if you are hiring them with the expectation that they will work with you for years, regular goal setting and performance management is the key to any successful business relationship.
This trial period can last for anything from one month to six months, and provides a chance for you to work out any issues with your new VA before you commit to a longer relationship. You should formalize this trial period in the contract you sign with your new VA, but also make the way that you will assess them open and transparent.
If you’ve followed these steps, you should be well on your way to having a great VA by your side. However, if the selection of real-life humans seems like simply too much for you right now, you should also have a look at AI Virtual Assistants: whilst AI solutions are not (yet) quite as good as humans, it might be that in a few years everyone has an AI assistant as well.
For now, though, hiring a VA is one of the most cost-effective decisions any entrepreneur can make. As long, that is, as they hire the right person.
Creating and promoting a business is a big endeavour. You have to create a winning product, employ the right employees, and market your products and services successfully.
And while doing this, you also have that thought at the back of your mind that most businesses fail within 5 years.
However, we’re here to talk about your business success. And in order to have a successful business, you need effective marketing strategies to help achieve your business targets.
One of the best platforms to promote your business is social media. How big is it? 3.356 billion users big.
With social media, you can find your ideal customers if you target the right social media channels. You can deliver your message to your audience, interact with users to build trust, and, with the right approach, even convert followers into paying customers.
Now, how do you promote your business through social media? In this blog post, discover 7 best practices on how to use social media to promote a new business:
1. Create a buyer persona
To send the right messages to your audience, you need to create a buyer persona to help you understand your ideal buyer.
In this document, you’ll have as many details as possible about this ideal customer. Some of these include:
- Solutions they need from your product
- Favourite social media channels
With a full picture of who your ideal buyer is, it becomes easier to send messages they’re likely to resonate with. Likewise, you’re able to build trust and make the right offers.
A tool that can help you to gather more details about your buyers is a social listening tool like Brandwatch; this allows you to research your audience based on relevant keywords so that you can gather important information, such as where they are from, what platforms and channels they regularly use, what influencers they follow, what other brands they interact with and, without enough research, even their needs and interests:
2. Set social media goals
Without social media goals, there’s no way to measure the failure or success of your social media activities. In most cases, businesses have the following goals when they use social media:
- Brand awareness
- Audience engagement
- Leads acquisition
- Improve sales
While setting your social media goals, you have to set objectives that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART). This is vital because your goals will affect your social media strategy and other activities: when you know exactly what you want to achieve, you can focus on creating content that will help you achieve those goals.
For example, if you’re just starting out and getting a business of the ground, you’ll probably want to generate more brand awareness. In that case, you’d need to create highly engaging content for social media, such as images and videos showcasing your brand and your logo, funny and engaging images that are highly shareable and you’ll likely want to increase the amount of updates you post so that you can reach a wide an audience as possible.
3. Create a winning social media strategy
Social media is so big that it’s easy to get lost amidst the noise. And setting goals alone is insufficient to achieve them. You have to create a strategy that can help you achieve your goals.
Some important elements to have in your strategy are:
- Your content types
- Frequency of updates
- Social media calendar
- Social media tools you need
- How to collaborate with team members
- How to track your goals
A social media strategy will guide you through the right actions to take on your accounts and when to take them – don’t overlook the importance of creating a strategy as it will ultimately help you save time and boost your results.
4. Use social media tools for better productivity
There are many aspects of your social media campaigns that require tools. And these tools help you save time and engage better with your audience. Some aspects you should consider, are:
- Social media management
- Content creation
- Content curation
- Social media monitoring
- Social media analytics
One of the most important tools you need to get is a social media management tool; this is because it will allow you to manage all of your social channels from one place, thus helping you save considerable time managing your profiles. What’s more social media management tools also have some extra features that can make a huge difference to your results: tools for collaborating with your team, access to social media analytics, monitoring features for keeping track of your brand name online and other handy features.
An effective tool you can use for social media management is SocialPilot. It’s an all-inclusive social media management tool that works with all major social networks and allows for team collaboration as well:
It provides an easy-to-use calendar that helps your team members plan and schedule updates ahead of time, as well as collaborate with others. What’s more, you can also engage with social media users, across channels, directly in your dashboard and access your social media analytics, among other features.
To satisfy your audience, you’ll find that the amount of content you produce might be insufficient. With content curation, you can get relevant content from other sources to share with your audience.
A tool you can use for this is Quuu. Before a piece of content is recommended for your account, it will be vetted by humans.
Monitoring provides business and industry mentions that helps you find opportunities to respond to complaints, find potential leads, and customers. With analytics, you can see the numbers that indicate your social media performance.
Many social media management tools offer monitoring and analytics, so you might need no extra tool; you can check this very detailed social media tool buyer’s guide to see exactly what to look for and how to choose the right tool for your needs.
5. Focus on a few social media channels
It might be enticing to run as many social media accounts as possible. But this could actually harm your results if you don’t really have the time to manage them all properly.
It’s better to maintain a strong presence on a few social media channels that are likely to bring results for your business. Based on your buyer persona and your social listening research, you already know the social media channels popular with your audience.
For instance, if you’re marketing a B2B product, then LinkedIn and Facebook are channels you should focus on. However, if you’re marketing food or fashion items, you’d achieve better results by focusing on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook.
If you find it difficult to know the social media channels your ideal buyers hang out, you can check on your competitors. Which social media channels do they focus on?
By focusing on a few social media platforms, you can invest your efforts where they’re most likely to yield results.
6. Add visuals to your social media updates
On social media, there’s so much content and you’re in a tough competition to attract your audience’s attention. Sharing only text updates can only go so far.
To get your message across more effectively and improve engagement, you need to implement visuals in your social media updates. For starters, the brain can process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
To create visuals for your social media campaigns, the expensive route is to employ designers. But by using the right tools, you can make professional visuals at a lower cost and at scale.
When you consider that you’ll need visuals regularly, using tools is the best option as a new business. A tool like Canva can help you create images you can use on various social media channels.
And you need little to no design skills to use them. You’ll find templates of various sizes made to fit specific social media channels. In a few minutes, you can get an image to use in your update.
Another visual content format that is very popular right now is video. Over the years, video marketing has become more popular and you’ll find that most social media channels now support videos.
And that’s because customers now expect it. In a HubSpot study, 54% of consumers say they want to see videos from businesses.
To create video at scale, you can use tools to help. Many of them provide ready-made templates, easy drag and drop editing and are generally very easy to use, even as beginners. One great solution is wave.video which features numerous templates and a huge library of video clips that you can use in your videos (although you can also upload your own clips):
Plus, you can add your watermark to videos, add calls to action and easily include captions in your video scenes.
7. Engage with your audience and build a community
Social media goes beyond sharing your updates and hoping for the best. Communication on social media, as with other online channels, is a two-way street.
You need to reply to comments and reshare interesting posts from your followers.
Added to this, social media is a popular platform for customer support. Many of your prospects and customers will make inquiries and send complaints through social media.
Your ability to respond in a short time will build trust with your audience. According to The Social Habit study by Edison Research, 42% of consumers expect a response from a company on social media within 1 hour.
Through proper engagement, you can build a community with your audience over time, turn them into loyal customers, and even your very own brand ambassadors.
Social media can be overwhelming for your new business at first. But with the right strategy, tools, and execution, you can achieve your targets on social media.
Save this list and use it as a guide while building your social media campaigns – these are the most important aspects to developing a strong social media plan for a small business.