If your goal is to have a huge newsletter list, you can certainly buy one—but eventually you’ll be just as disappointed as your recipients. The only one who really benefits is the one who sold you the list.
In fact, the objective should not be the largest possible list, but the most engaged list. You want your members to wait for your emails, open them, and even respond occasionally.
The best lists are made one customer at a time. It is a strategy that requires patience and dedication. However, is it worth it? We think so. You can control your destiny by making a list. It takes you from a rented place (at the mercy of social algorithms or paid ads) to a place owned (you have full control over what you send and who sees it).
At Ochsley we’ve been in the newsletter game for a long time and we’ve tried almost everything. We’ve covered everything we learned in the following 13 tips:
- Send better content – Sorry, no clever hacks to start our list. If you want to proceed verbally (subscribers forward your email to friends, family, and coworkers), you need to make sure that your newsletter content is valuable.
It also means being short sellers. Years ago we used to burn our email list with hype. Our unsubscribe increased and open rates declined. We learned the hard way and made adjustments. Today we rarely send preaching. Why? We aim for long term engagement, not short term transactions.
- Build more “content upgrades” – These are especially attractive gifts tied to a single piece of free material. For example, you can post a Social Security article on LinkedIn that offers a printable “checklist” in lieu of an email. The “checklist” is the content upgrade.
If you’re concerned about junk email, insist on making the content upgrade available for download immediately rather than emailing it. In your call-to-action (CTA), “Where should we email your checklist?” Be sure to use the same language. Instead of “get instant access”.
- Promote using social proof If you check out Oechsli’s website, you’ll see that we have humble bragging when it comes to our newsletter. We’ve spent years building over 50,000 customers and we make that number visible to the public. Why? This is social proof that our newsletter is valuable. Even if you don’t have a ton of current customers, you can use a quote in the same way. Find someone who is willing to write a few words about your newsletter, then use it in your promotion. This FOMO is excellent.
- Easy to use membership form on your website – We recommend a sticky website footer or header that prompts visitors to subscribe. Also, consider adding a subscription form at the bottom of your articles and videos. Stay away from annoying pop-ups with impossible-to-find close buttons. When users sense that you are pushing too hard, they shut down immediately.
- Use turnstiles for your videos – Most video hosting solutions have some sort of lead-capture capability. Wistia’s turnstile feature allows you to capture information at any point in your video. For example, just before you provide the most important information, you might have an email capture form popup:
Like most good things, moderation is key. If email is required to keep watching every video, it will quickly become out of date.
- Design social posts that encourage customers When it comes to your organic strategy, LinkedIn is a great place to post about your newsletters. Consider showing a sneak peek of the content or even recording a video on why people should subscribe. Post that content with a link to the landing page. Here’s an example …
- Add a sign-up button to your newsletter – When your newsletter is forwarded around it should be really easy for others to subscribe. Have a simple sign-up button on your newsletter.
- Add a Subscribe Link to Your Email Signature , While this may only take in a few new customers each year, everyone counts.
- Add email from webinars and event registration – When people register for your event, you may be collecting their emails. This is a great time to ask them to add you to your newsletter list. You can also do this retrospectively.
- Run Paid Ads on Facebook and LinkedIn , Here’s a Facebook ad example we ran recently to garner new customers. Through Facebook you will need to use a simple landing page or lead-capture form. You’ll be able to quickly evaluate the cost per new customer to make sure it’s worth the ad-hoc spend.
- Simplify your lead capture form , When gaating content, there is a tendency to request too much information. We see people requesting name, email, phone, address and even current assets. Start with a simple micro-commitment like an email and nurture the relationship. This applies to all forms of your website, not just lead magnets. Ask for less, eventually to get more.
- Collect more business cards – Remember these? Back in the day, Matt Ochsley would return from trips with a stack of business cards in hand. This was a list of advisors he met while giving a speech after closing our newsletter. If you are at a tradeshow, guest presentation or networking event, be diligent about collecting business cards.
- Start near home When building your customers, don’t overlook the people you are closest with. Start building your email list with the addresses you have for customers, prospects, COIs, friends and family.
Finally, if you find yourself thinking that you already have a great list, and don’t need to focus on building new members, think again. Your email list languishes with each email explosion. You should always be adding new quality emails to your database.
As stated earlier, this takes time and a variety of strategies. Get everyone on your team focused on building up this number and set a short-term goal. Years from now, you will have a priceless asset in your hands.
Kevin Nichols is a partner with The Ochsley Institute, a firm that specializes in research and training for the financial services industry. @kevinnicholes www.oechsli.com