10 Strategies to Build your Mailing List

There’s a lot of chatter going on about email, list growing, and the GDPR these days. With list building methods now needing official trails for compliance, I think it’s going to push authors to become more creative on how to grow their mailing list.

List building, in my experience, has been nothing short of mind numbing. But I want to take a moment to say don’t get discouraged if you don’t have many contacts on your mailing list. As long as your contacts are engaging with you–that means opening those emails and clicking inside them–you’re in good shape.

An engaged mailing list can truly be a powerful tool when it comes to release time. But the truth is, the size of your list isn’t as significant as the QUALITY of your list. It’s kinda like the old adage of it’s not the size of the wave, but the motion of the ocean.

Yeah. That. But with emails and not sex.

So in an effort to help us all find our own league of engaged readers who want to receive our newsletters, I’ve gathered together 10 list building strategies.

One thing you won’t find on this list is a traditional list building promo. Why? Mostly because I’ve taken part in these with mixed results in the past. Yes, I was able to get TONS of emails out of it … but the quality of those leads weren’t so great. More on that in the Warning Label below.

So here you go … ten easy, albeit obvious ways, you can grow your mailing list.

1. Utilize pop ups on your website.

It could be a polite overlay when a reader first visits your .com, or you can even go with an exit-intent pop up (you know the ones … where you’re hovering over the little “X” in the corner and an alert pops up happily screaming “WAIIIIIT! DON’T LEAVE ME YET!”). These are surprisingly effective and target a potential reader at the right time because they’re already on your website looking for more information.

Screen Shot 2018-04-20 at 10.50.00 PM

If you need an example, head on over to my main page. The pop-up should generate easily unless you’ve closed out of it in the past. In that case, go into incognito mode in your browser and try again.

2. Pin your sign up info on social media.

Utilize that pinned tweet option and those tacked-to-the-top Facebook posts available on groups and pages. Drop it in your Facebook profile information. Those Instagram profile links (or better yet, the LinkTr.ee option). Don’t forget about your Amazon Author Central and GoodReads bios, too. Are you on BookSprout? Squirl? Library Thing? Yeah. Cover yourself off there, as well.

3. Use a Landing Page on Facebook

Most mailing programs have integration with brand pages, which means you can easily add a landing page for a newsletter sign up directly on your Facebook page. Try it. It’s super easy and built right into the platform. Close to 10% of my mailing list has come from this source alone.

4. Put it in your email signature.

Seriously. You’re writing to people who WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU. Why aren’t you giving them more options on HOW TO CONTINUE TO HEAR FROM YOU. And yes, this is totally shouty caps worthy because it is so obvious and nobody does it.

5. Add it to the back of your eBooks.

I actually haven’t done this yet and I’m seriously slapping myself in the face for not doing it sooner. Friends of mine have grown their list significantly by adding a strong call to action and sign up link directly at the end of an eBook.

I mean … if I finished a book and loved it, you bet your backside I’d be wanting to know where I can learn more about the author’s other books and upcoming releases. AMIRIGHT!?

6. Use buttons.

“I like big buttons and I cannot lie …”
(It’s okay, I totally sang it, too.)

When you learn the power of the button, your entire outlook on digital marketing will change. It’s such a simple element, but one that drastically improves your user experience, and in turn will drive results.

Buttons should be colorful, attention grabbing, have a strong call to action, and a live link that works. You can use them for capturing email sign ups. Use them to drive conversions of sales. Use them in your newsletter content. Your website. Anywhere you can dream up! They’re more engaging than embedded links, and more eye-catching, too.

7. Keep the sign up form simple.

Don’t ask them for too much information on the sign up form. I am so guilty of this. In the beginning, I wanted to know everything there was to know about my fans. And the sign up form asked for everything from their reading device to their name to their state and all this other stuff that really didn’t matter. All I *technically* needed was their email address and permission to communicate with them.

What I failed to realize was that the more I asked, the less likely they were to sign up.

But now I’ve got it down to a simple method … I ask for first name, their email, and a checkbox to find out if they are a blogger. Why? Because I want to personalize the content I send them using tokens (a fancy word that basically means, I can import their name into the subject line and email copy) and I want to be able to segment special information for my bloggers.

I do, however, have a more detailed landing page specifically targeting bloggers that requests additional information like their blog URL.

8. Offer exclusive content.

Make your recipients feel special and offer subscriber-only content that’s worth sharing. It could be bits and pieces of a serial told over the course of the year or short story only available to those who sign up or access to one of your titles for free. Or perhaps a sneak peek at your current work in progress (I do this with my current automation).

My girl Kennedy Ryan recently offered a bonus epilogue to her hit release, Long Shot! Readers who loved the book and were clamoring for more signed up for her newsletter where they received the special bonus epilogue. This strategy is seriously genius.

9. Don’t limit yourself to online efforts.

Newsletter Sign Up
An example of my signing setup — the iPad sign up is easy to use and well received.
Collect emails safely (and legally) at offline events like book signings. I mentioned this in my GDPR blog post, but you want to leverage the digital tools currently being offered by your third party provider rather than using a sign-up sheet or slips of paper that you key into your database by hand later. When I’m offline, I love to use MailChimp’s Subscribe App. Interested folks sign up for my newsletter directly on my iPad and then when I’m connected to wifi, it automatically loads them into my database and begins their automated campaign. I’ll talk more about campaign automations on a rainy day, so subscribe to my blog through WordPress so you don’t miss it. 😉

Otherwise to generate newsletter leads outside of the web is to leverage a QR code on the back of promotional items or bookmarks that allow a reader to sign up easily with their phones.

10. Tease upcoming newsletter content.

If you plan on using your newsletter for something super exciting or newsworthy, let your fans know before it ever deploys and invite them to sign up so they don’t miss out. Fear of missing out on a cover reveal or bonus content from your last release is enough to convert many fans to becoming newsletter recipients.

Now for the WARNING LABEL:

Beware of the freebie fiends. Many times when you tie your newsletter to a giveaway, you risk having people sign up for a shot at the freebie rather than those who are genuinely interested in engaging with you. Those freebie folks are the first to hit the unsubscribe button and negatively impact your open rates and can cause you to drop into the downward spiral of spam content.

Earlier this year, I set a goal for myself to double my mailing list in size. I felt like this was totally attainable. I happily ran off into the interwebs and signed up for promo through a third party that had a list building component woven in. The promo went great. I grew followers on a specific channel I was aiming to grow and received several hundred emails to add to my mailing list in the process.

I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and vetted the list like the good little email marketer I was. Of the 500+ emails they handed to me, I trimmed it down to 349 contacts, loaded them into my newsletter and watched the three touch point automation that performs so well for me begin.

Of those 349 contacts … 14% unsubscribed after the first touch point deployed. In email marketing, that number is stupidly high and a clear indication that these individuals were not interested in the content I was sharing … just the prospect of a freebie. The particular list I created just for these new contacts boasts the worst open rate of all my segmented lists. And as a result, my account was flagged and is on “Spam Watch.”

Clearly, this is not a good thing.

Since then, I’ve abandoned my goal of doubling my mailing list size because it’s not worth it if the contacts aren’t genuine. I’ve since shifted my goal to increasing my open rates to help foster more engagement.

You want your sender reputation to be STRONG. Those open rates to be AUTHENTIC. And those click-throughs to CONVERT to sales. It is so freakin’ tough to recover from a poor sender reputation and regain credibility.

I’ll take a mailing list of 1,000 genuinely interested fans who read what I share with them over a massive list of 25,000+ with a lackluster open rate and terrifying unsubscribe rate. And you should, too. Though if you’re given the choice of a 25,000+ list that has kick ass open rates … that’s the one you want. 😉

Hopefully you found some of these list building strategies helpful and can implement them to continue building your fan base. Be sure to follow my blog via WordPress, sign up for my newsletter to check out my on-boarding automation, and follow along with the Authors Helping Authors series here on my blog!

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2 thoughts on “10 Strategies to Build your Mailing List

  1. Pingback: Podcast: Will You Be Ready for the GDPR on May 25th?

  2. Pingback: 7 Types of Emails To Send to your Readers – Author BL. Berry

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