With all the social networks out there and potential for follows, likes and connections, you would be forgiven for forgetting the importance of your email list. Unlike on a social network, anyone on your own email list is part of your data, within your control and not at the whim of any other external provider. You have been given permission by someone to contact them directly. This explicit permission is such a valuable asset to have.

However, getting someone onto your list doesn’t always seem that straightforward. It can often get complicated and problematic because it seems like such a big task. Well, we have pulled together everything we know in order to help you break the process down and get you started. In 3 simple steps, I will show you how you can get people onto your list, and the key things you have to do to attract your ideal customer.

Get to Know Your Audience and Then Get Researching

One of the aspects of marketing that is often done poorly, if at all, is clearly defining an audience. I have come across people who think it is only limiting the pool of people they can market to. Well, the reality is that trying to target everyone you are essentially marketing to no one. The value of knowing your specific audience means you can find where they are, speak their language, appeal to their needs and, most importantly, provide tailormade solutions to their very specific problems. Take the time to construct a detailed idea of who you are targeting. What do they like, dislike, need or want? Examine how they communicate, where they communicate and who with. All this information will allow you to focus in on their needs and design a “customer persona” to whom you can speak when writing any content. Here is a great guide to creating an effective customer profile.

Once you know who you are talking to, you can move onto researching this customer persona/type even further. Again, this element is not given the respect it deserves, especially in the digital age. Most businesses prefer to take quick shortcuts (skipping this kind of legwork) than to sit down to really think about who their customer is and what problems they need solutions to. When providing any kind of content to attract an audience it is absolutely essential you provide a tailored solution. This is where the value will come from for your audience. So, start researching your audiences real needs and challenges. This information is essential for the next step of the process, the content.

Generate must-have compelling content (that provides solutions)

The purpose of this content is to attract your audience to sign up to your email list by giving them something of real value. That may be an ebook or audio course that helps them solve a particular problem. For example, your small business audience may have difficulties in managing cash flow, to provide them with a guide on how to effectively manage their cash flow. Likewise, due to other commitments, they may have difficulties in managing their home outside of their busy schedule, to provide them with a video course on “21 Essential Hacks to Managing Your Home When You Have No Time”. Make the content as comprehensive and helpful as you possibly can. If you have done the research well, these solutions will truly resonate with your audience and they will look to continue the conversation with you, perhaps by asking more about your product or service. By addressing their specific needs you will earn trust and, most importantly, a reputation for solving “their” problems.

Find your audience, set up the tech and press go

The final step draws on your previous research into your audience too. Through crafting your perfect target audience, you will now know where they are “handing out”, whether that be Facebook or LinkedIn. This essential knowledge ensures you place that great piece of content you have just created in the right place. As an example let’s imagine your target group is mostly on Facebook. Perhaps it is homeowners in their mid 40’s. You can go onto Facebook and use their tools to create the audience you want to target – their tools are extremely useful. Then you create an ad promoting he piece of content that solves a key challenge for this audience (here is a great guide to help you). If you have hit the right problem, combined with a great solution, people will download it in return for their email address, and hey presto! This will be the start of your list. Now it is about patience and trust that it will work (and it will!).

Over time you will need to tweak the ad to minimise the cost per sign up to ensure the ad is generating a positive return on investment. You can then track your spending and ensure you stay within your budget. Once you have enough data you will start to be able to predict if I put in X amount of £’s I will see an X increase in my list, further allowing you to plan and maximise your budget.

What Next?

Now you have a list building engine going, you need to ensure you keep refreshed with new lead content. The formula stays the same though. Define the audience, research their challenges and provide compelling solutions. As your list grows you will want to develop a strategy for keeping them engaged. Perhaps you will start to blog or even create a monthly newsletter to keep them informed of more helpful, valuable solutions. Then it is a question of thinking about how to convert people to your list into paying customers (a blog post for another time).

Building an email list can be an extremely daunting task for many businesses. However, there are fundamental steps that you can follow that will greatly enhance your ability to start your list. The key is to know your audience, know their challenges and provide compelling solutions. It is only through providing genuine value like this that your audience will be willing to become part of your email list. Stick to these core principles and you will be well on your way to having your own data to build your business upon.

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