Creating, controlling, and communicating with audiences should be at the centre of your marketing strategy.
Your newsletter audience is the most important because (unsubscribes aside) you’re in complete control.
However, I’m the bearer of bad news:
- Getting sign-ups is hard work
- Your existing audience will degrade as people unsubscribe, change email addresses, or fail to engage.
So, aside from creating great content that your audience will love and share, here are 10 practical things you can start doing to build your newsletter database today.
1. Add prospects to the database
Prospects generally fall into three groups:
- Those who become clients immediately
- Those who are “right fit” but haven’t yet become clients
- Those who aren’t the “right fit” and will never become a client.
Those in the first two groups should be immediately added to your newsletter database and receive the next edition.
That means, if they don’t immediately become clients, they’ll hear from you every month (quarterly newsletters are only for the timid who don’t really believe what they’re sending is worthwhile). It allows you to add value, demonstrate knowledge and, therefore, position you as the go-back-to expert.
Unfortunately, we see many firms that aren’t adding prospects to their newsletter database, which wastes the time and money invested in creating the prospect in the first place.
Of course, you need to get GDPR right but, if you understand the rules, that isn’t usually an issue.
2. Add a newsletter sign-up to your website
We all want as many website visitors to take a call to action as possible.
That’s always going to be a relatively small number. However, adding a newsletter sign-up form can help. There are two ways to do this:
- A static form
- A pop-up (ideally that shouldn’t appear as soon as someone lands on your website, but after a fixed amount of time on the site or specific page).
Either way, the form or pop-up should explain what they are signing up for, the benefits they’ll get, and how often they’ll receive your update.
Make sure you link the form to a specific address book in your bulk mailing system so that people who sign up automatically receive the next edition of your newsletter.
Adding a welcome email, including some of your most popular recent articles, is a nice touch too.
3. Lead magnet campaigns
If you want to build your newsletter database quickly, almost nothing (apart from buying a database, more of which in a moment) beats a lead magnet campaign.
The concept is simple:
- You create a valuable asset, for example, a guide or scorecard
- You advertise the asset on social media (usually Facebook or LinkedIn)
- People access the guide by completing a form, which includes their contact details.
It’s a win/win.
They get the asset, and you get their contact details. Then, assuming you’ve ticked the right GDPR box, you can follow up with them by sending further information, inviting them to events and webinars, picking up the phone, and, you’ve guessed it, adding them to your newsletter database.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you set up a lead magnet campaign, click here, and we’ll get in touch.
4. Buying a database
Buying a database can give your newsletter audience an immediate boost.
It only works with certain audience types though. For example, I’d be very nervous about buying a database of consumers. However, if you’re targeting say, accountants or business owners, it can work very well.
If you’re going to do this, follow these three tips:
- Make sure you use a reputable list broker (we’re happy to recommend you to ours if you’d like us to)
- Get your targeting right, adding in the types of businesses you want to work with and excluding those that aren’t right
- Understand the usage limits, as most lists limit the number of times you can email each year.
5. Add messages to your social posts
If posting on social media is part of your marketing strategy, consider adding a simple message inviting people to sign up for your newsletter.
Here’s the message I use on LinkedIn:
“If you’d like more marketing insights, sign up for our weekly newsletter. Every Friday morning at 7.30 am we’ll put useful marketing hints and tips into your inbox.
“We’ll never pass your data to third parties and if we’re ever boring you can easily unsubscribe!
“Link to subscribe in the comments. ????”
I then link to a specific landing page we’ve created on our website. Click here to see it, and if you’re not already on our list, sign up for our newsletter!
Be careful though, as this only works if your posts add genuine value.
No one is going to sign up for your newsletter after a humblebrag about your latest online review. The harder you work to make your posts relevant, interesting and (above all) valuable, the more people who will sign up for your newsletter.
Here’s an example of it in action:
6. Add your LinkedIn connections
Okay, so cards on the table, adding the email addresses of my LinkedIn connections to our newsletter database makes me nervous. So, I’ve not done it.
However, I know planners who have, and it’s worked for them.
In times gone by, you could easily download a list of your LinkedIn connections and their email addresses. Try it now and you’ll only get addresses for about 10% of connections.
So, if you’re going to do this, you need to manually cut and paste their email addresses into your database.
That’s laborious and time-consuming. It’s worked for the handful of planners we’ve seen do it. More people read their newsletter and there was no significant increase in unsubscribes or spam reports.
Only you can decide if this is an option for you but, if you do it, be prepared to invest time in collecting the addresses and, again, make sure your GDPR policy is right.
7. Add a newsletter sign-up call to action to your email signature
Your email signature is seen by dozens of people every day. If you have a team of people in your business, it’s probably in the hundreds.
That means it’s a great place to display some key messages, including an opportunity to sign up for your newsletter. Make sure you explain:
- What they are signing up for
- The benefit they’ll get
- How often they’ll receive it.
Then, link to the sign-up page we mentioned earlier. You can click here to see ours.
8. Post on social media before and after sending your newsletter
Use social messages to tell people when the next edition of your newsletter is coming out and encourage them to sign up if they’d like a copy.
For example, a LinkedIn or Twitter post might read: “Just putting the finishing touches to this month’s newsletter with some great tips about how to deal with high inflation. If you’re already one of the 865 people who’ve signed up, it’ll land in your inbox tomorrow morning at 9.00 am. If you’re not part of our community and would like a copy, click the link to sign up.”
Use your words, obviously, but you get the picture.
9. Write guest blogs
Creating newsletter content isn’t easy (unless you outsource it of course!) which means that professional connections will often be grateful to receive guest content from you.
Consider approaching solicitors, lawyers, or other financial websites and offer a guest blog. If you explain that you will write unique content on a subject that’s relevant to your audience, many will be happy to take the content from you.
When it’s written, include a link to your newsletter sign-up form as a call to action.
10. Run webinars
Webinars are a great way to add new people to your newsletter audience:
- Promoting the webinar on social media will encourage people who aren’t on your database to sign up
- Running a joint webinar (we’ve run webinars with Openwork, Corbel Partners, VouchedFor, and Antony George this year) opens up new audiences.
The proof this works; every time we run a webinar, whether it’s on our own or with a partner, people whose email addresses we don’t have sign up. That helps to grow our database for future newsletters and events.
Get the balance right between content production and promotion
You need to maximise the number of (relevant) people who see your content. That means investing time in building the audience who sees it. After all, a West End show that plays to an empty audience won’t last long. We hope the ideas in this article help.
If you’d like to discuss any of them with me, or have others to add to your own, click here or call 0115 8965 300.
We’d love to hear from you.