Business Magazine

The 4 Most Common Mistakes of Building a Targeted Email List

By Stacylrust


Imagine how your business would run if you knew exactly who wanted to buy from you (their name and contact information).

What if you had a list of people across the world, raving fans, who loved your work, and were willing to buy just about anything you brought to market?

Wouldn’t that make running your online business a hell of a lot easier?

One of the first things I teach my private clients is to start building a list of targeted customers. Collect the contact information (name and email address) of the people who visit your website, so you can keep in touch with them and start building good business relationships.

If you want to build a huge following online, then building an email list is the first place to start.

So, how do you get people to give you their email address.

And, how do you build a list of people that actually want to buy from you?

Here’s how to avoid the 4 most common mistakes of building a targeted email list:

1. Offer a Targeted Incentive

First things first… how do get people to actually give you their email address?

We all receive a slimy avalanche of spam and sales emails every day. People are so anti-spam that they guard their email addresses viciously. So, how do you get your customers to give you access to their sacred email inboxes?

SO many businesses ask for my email address without ever giving me a reason WHY I should give it to them. My email address is valuable! I don’t want a bunch of crap landing in my inbox everyday that I have to delete. Show me that you’ll deliver the good stuff, and I’ll consider letting you in.

Convince your website visitors to trust you with their email address by offering them an incentive (or, as Seth Godin calls it, a big banana).

In Seth Godin’s book The Big Red Fez, he explains that one of the primary functions of your website is to collect email addresses to build your list. The best way to do this is to offer an incentive to those who join your list.

He describes the visitors to your site as little monkeys. They have a short attention span. They’re bouncing all over the place, easily distracted. Your job is to show them one big banana that’s impossible to resist. You want them enter their email address to get that big banana before they leave your site.

So, what can you offer the visitors to your website? A 15% off coupon? A free informational guide? A free audio series? The juicier your incentive, the more likely a visitor will enter their email address.

One of the most important parts of Seth’s monkey-banana analogy is that you have to offer something of value to YOUR visitor. I’m a monkey, so don’t offer me a watermelon. I want a banana. Your job is to figure out a good banana for your monkeys. Is your incentive compelling to your target market?

Also, is it specific to your customers? I see so many businesses offering incentives that aren’t very specific to their target market.

For instance, if you do a monthly drawing for an iPad, you’ll get a ton of people to sign up for your email list, but will these people be potential customers? Maybe, maybe not. Everybody wants an iPad. It is compelling, but not specific to YOUR customers (unless you’re an iPad salesman… in which case I stand corrected).

Ultimately you’re looking to build a list of customers, people who are ready and willing to buy from you, so think of a banana that will attract those people (not an incentive that will attract just anyone).

2. Show Your Subscribers what it’s like to be a Customer

One of the best ways to convert an email subscriber to a customer is to demonstrate what it’s like to work with you.

When you’re crafting your incentive (or, banana) think of ways to give your email subscribers a taste of your work. Make them feel like a customer. Help them get to know you (your work style, your personality, your products and services).

Your incentive is likely your first interaction with your prospective customer, so make sure it’s of really high quality. Make a good first impression.

Don’t make the mistake of giving your website visitors a guide filled with typos, or a poorly packaged free sample. Give them a taste of your best.

If you offer a product sample, be sure it’s a high-quality product.

If you give your email subscribers a free guide or a free audio, be sure it’s representative of your best work.

When you give a subscriber a great gift, they will stick around, learn more about you and become a customer.

3. Make it Easy for People to Join Your List

Is it easy for your website visitors to sign up to get your emails?

Or, is your email signup form hard to find?

Take a look at your website with fresh eyes. Your email signup form (or opt-in form) should be the first thing your visitors see when they land on your site.

Is it right at the top, or buried at the bottom?

Does it stand out? Is it colorful and eye-catching?

Studies show that your visitors will give your website about 3 seconds of attention before they consider leaving. If they don’t see something really compelling, they’re going to bounce and go elsewhere.

Create a compelling reason to join your email list. Keep those monkeys interested with a targeted “banana”. That way when they leave to go to another website, you can still keep in touch with them via email.

4. Show Up and Deliver

When someone joins your email list, let them know how often they can expect to hear from you.

Do you send emails every week? Once every 2 weeks?

Give them an idea of the type of content you’ll be sharing, the perks of being a member of your email list, and what they can expect going forward.

And then, don’t forget to show up!

The key to building a large, engaged audience is to keep in touch with them regularly. Don’t just show up once in a while, be consistent.

Treat your email list like you do your friends, reach out and let them know what you’re up to. Share new ideas, new projects, and give them exclusive updates. Send your blog posts to them to be sure they never miss any of the content you share. Ask for feedback, start an interesting conversation, and get to know your followers.

How would your grandma feel if she gave you her email address, but you never sent her anything?

Treat your email subscribers like you’d treat your grandma and show up regularly!

Follow these 4 steps and you’ll be on your way to creating a large following of potential customers! Do you have any good email spam stories? Or, any good tips on building an email list? Share them in the comments below!

Photo Credit: Andrew Taylor

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