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Email lists connected to online marketing

If you work in a sales, marketing, or management role, you’ve seen plenty of them.

Seemingly automated emails from people who want to sell you pre-made email lists from the industries in which you target. And, guess what, you came from one of those lists!

If you’re like me, you probably delete it right away. However, it’s always tempting to learn more, especially if you’re having trouble connecting your marketing and sales efforts with the right people. But, before you buy, STOP!

When you buy email lists, you run into major issues.

First, you’re interrupting people who never wanted to hear from you in the first place.  Sure, they may be interested in buying from you, but when you interrupt someone with something they didn’t ask to learn about, you’re reducing your chances of closing a sale. You look like a spammer…in fact, you ARE a spammer.

That leads right into the second part of this: spamming. The moment you send that catch-all email, you either get spammed, or put yourself in a position to become spam. Essentially, the recipient sees your uninspired email and marks it as spam, leaving you with no chance to actually connect. 

You lose way more opportunities than you gain when you buy email lists. I know what you’re thinking, and I’ve been there.

“How do I get people to sign up for my email list?” “How do I find those names on my own?” “Buying a list is just easier.”

In this article, I’m going to break down the process of building a proper, successful email list. What makes me an expert? Well, I’ve done it for nearly a decade, building lists for various companies across a multitude of niche industries. 

And, they really work. In fact, most of the revenue I create comes from those lists. 

Not social media. Not ads. Email marketing.

So, let’s break it down.


Build Content & Provide a Call-to-Action


This is a content marketing website (as you can tell by the name Content Marketing Pro). 

So, of course, I’m going to talk about it. And, for good reason.

The first piece of building a strong email list for marketing requires you to build valuable content. Not sales-related drivel, but content that creates a spark. It inspires. It educates.

If you’re not a Content Marketing Pro (yet), I’ve found that starting a blog is the easiest way to go about it…sort of like this one! Now, I won’t go into the blogging process in this article, but we did create this video to help you with that portion.



A blog does a few things. 

The first, it builds out your website a bit, adding more depth and overall content which, in turn, bolsters your search engine optimization (SEO). The second, it provides relatable information that educates readers and inspires them to make a change. And, the third, a blog provides you with not only a place to give readers the opportunity to subscribe, but also consistent content to send to them via email once they do.

After all, what’s the point of building a great list if you’re not providing equally wonderful content?

Now, after you’ve written each blog article, you want to make sure you’re giving people a place to go to take action… a call-to-action (CTA). Make sure it’s not only visible, but very clear. Guide your reader through the journey of taking action, then give them a place to actually do it.

“Sign up.” “Get started.” “Learn more.”

Whichever you choose, be clear and direct in telling that reader what’s going to happen next. The biggest problem I find with any CTA is a lack of clarity. Ask yourself, “what do I want them to do next?” Then, take them there.

Now, as social media platforms evolve, you’ve got the ability to do the same through them. However, I find that driving people back to your website provides the most benefit.

Make sure to watch that blog video, because you need your reader to remain engaged until the end.


Pop-up or Static CTAs?


This is a really common question.

Should you add a CTA to the page in a static location, or create a pop-up that appears after a certain action takes place (a scroll, a click, or time spent on the page)?

While I’m not a huge fan of pop-ups, and you may not be either, the numbers don’t lie. They work very well, depending on how you craft them. The key to a good pop-up is your offer.

What does the reader get in exchange for that email address? Free, exclusive content such as a downloadable ebook? A prize of some sort? Whatever you choose, make sure it’s irresistible. 

You probably won’t get a lot of sign-ups if you offer “a 30-minute phone call with one of our experts.” Seriously, you’re selling a sales call? It might seem funny, but I’ve seen this happen more times than I care to admit.

So, what’s my go-to for CTAs? I add them in static locations on every page, mostly at the bottom and on the right side. Knowing full-well that not everyone finished the articles, I want to make sure they’ve still got several opportunities to convert.

I also add a 15-second scrolling, pop-up to those pages, and I set it to only trigger on the first entry.

This sort of pop-up provides people with some sort of enticing trade-off for their email address, as mentioned above. Additionally, I’ll add an exit-intent pop-up, which works as a “hey, before you go” offer. 

After that, I turn that pop-up off for a set amount of time so it doesn’t continue to bother someone who either already took advantage of the offer, or didn’t want it in the first place.

When it comes to full-page and partial-page pop-ups, I test both to see which works best for my audience. 

Not all audiences respond the same way so, as with anything else in marketing, you want to test your theories and see which works best for yours.

Pro Tip: To see which CTA set-up converts best, try creating two pages with the same content with the CTAs in different locations, or with different pop-up settings

Look, we’ve all been annoyed by pop-ups, so you don’t want to do that to your readers. It’s one of the quickest ways to get them to unsubscribe out of spite, or to stop visiting your website altogether.

The only clear-cut answer here is to add a CTA to every single page that asks people to sign up for your email list.


So, What if People Already Want to Buy?


Okay, so you know the power of a CTA.

Let’s cover the two ways to use it effectively. In this case, we’re focused on building an email list, so you want people to sign up. But, what if those people already want to buy?

Good question. Let’s talk about that.

In most cases, your main CTA involves actually selling your product or service. Of course it does!

However, to create an ongoing relationship, and not just a one-off sort of deal, you want people to also sign up for your email list. 

You’ll also want to segment those audiences, which we cover in the Content Marketing Pro course.

Under those circumstances, I add an email opt-in checkbox to my main CTA forms that details exactly what happens when someone clicks it. In several countries, that’s actually a requirement. More about that here.

You see, the most powerful email lists include existing customers. If you just sell and move on, they’ll likely find someone else to do the job or sell the goods next time around. It’s just one Google search away, right?

But, if you continue to provide them with great content (that they asked for in the first place), then you’ll continue to remind  them that you’re there to help. And, when you segment that audience (again, in the course), you can also provide them with exclusive offers available only to returning customers.

As the old saying goes, it’s more profitable to keep customers than to find new ones. In my experience, that statement rings true.


The List is Growing! Now What?


That’s for me to know and you to find out.

I’ve always hated that saying…

Once you start building your email list – which takes time, so don’t give up! — you need to keep them engaged and informed…enough so that they want to remain a part of it. 

First thing’s first: don’t spam them with sales material over and over again. It’s hard to build a great email list, but very easy to lose subscribers.  My tried and true recommendation: provide several resourceful pieces of content for every one ad or promotional email.

So, if you provide one piece of content per email, you’ll earn yourself a sales email after every seven resourceful ones. This method works best if you send out multiple emails each week (I recommend at least once per week, if possible, for consistency).

But, some companies send emails that include several pieces of content in one go-around. Apply the same method…the 7-to-1 ratio.

If you feel as if you’re running out of blog ideas, just search the internet and see if any of the latest industry new topics resonate with your business. Or, give a software such as BuzzSumo a try – it provides you with analysis on which content is performing best in order to generate ideas.


Bringing It All Together


It’s easy to want that quick win. That easy victory.

However, that long-game provides a much better outcome. Buying email lists works much to your own detriment, while building them gives you a real audience who wants to hear from you. They’re interested. They value your insight.

Give yourself and your company a fighting chance at success, and get people to subscribe. Then, engage, engage, engage!

Just do one thing consistently: connect with your audience consistent with great content. Again, you’ve worked hard to build your list, but that’s just the beginning.

You’ve got this!

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