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285. How to Optimize Your Email List Growth Strategy

285. How to Optimize Your Email List Growth Strategy

I say this every quarter, but I can’t believe we’re about to head into Q3. This week marks our week-long quarterly planning session in the Lounge and as expected, I’m harping on everyone to make sure they’re getting themselves set up for success in Q4 and part of that is making sure you’re focused on list growth over the next 90 days. 

In case you didn’t know, on average, 60% of your Q4 sales will come from customers who engaged with you in the first half of the year, but that still leaves a lot of opportunity for you to focus on acquiring new customers in Q3 that can turn into repeat customers during the holiday season. 

No matter what you have on your to-do list for Q3, please carve out some time to focus on email list growth. And I don’t just mean the passive-ish list growth where you hope people fill out your pop-up form, but intentional, focused list growth, where email signups are your #1 priority, the #1 KPI you are trying to grow. That might look like a 2-week sprint where every call to action is about getting on your email list, or implementing a new strategy specifically for list growth. 

PREFER TO LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE? CLICK HERE

How to Approach List-Building for eCommerce

When it comes to list growth for eCommerce, there are a lot of different ways to tackle this, and rarely is there one perfect way. You’ll likely find the most success when you’re layering multiple strategies together. 

Consider this a companion to episode 43 where I go into some more specifics about the different ways you can grow your list, I’ll stick a link in the show notes for you. 

My goal for today is to show you how you can layer these list growth strategies together, optimize each of them, and give you a general framework for when and how to promote them – because just like your product assortment, if you’re trying to promote them all at the same time… it’s gonna be a struggle for you and confusing for your audience. 

What to Consider When Growing Your Email List

Crafting a well-intentioned email list growth strategy takes more than just throwing up a pop-up and hoping for the best. There are a few elements that I want you to keep in mind as you’re building this out. And if you’ve never sat down to map this out before, I recommend you grab a pen and paper to do that.

What are you giving them in exchange for their email address?

This could be a discount, a PDF download, product recommendations quiz results, a drawing for a monthly gift card, etc. You’re likely going to have more than one way someone can opt-into your list and you probably should. 

For example, discounts are really great for people who already know they want to buy from you, but if someone is still discovering you and trying to decide what they want, a discount code that expires in 7 days might not be as effective. 

What does the follow-up to this list growth strategy look like?

Anything that is discount related can easily go into a traditional welcome series, but what about quiz takers or someone who downloads an informational PDF? Just sending them a discount without much additional information is going to feel off. 

To make this truly impactful, you’ll want to create a bit of a different journey depending on how they came into your list in the first place. 

How are you going to drive traffic to this offer?

It’s not enough to just hope people land on your website and fill out your pop-up, or click the link in your Instagram bio. You have to be proactive about promoting these offers, whatever they are, and driving traffic to them. 

What is the actual sign-up mechanism for this offer?

Is this a pop-up on your website, is it a landing page with an embedded form, is it part of the software, for example, if you’re utilizing a quiz that sign up will happen through the quiz platform. If you’re going to use a tool like Manychat to grow your list on Instagram, that sign up will happen in the DMs.

The mechanism you use will be highly dependent on the offer and how you’re driving traffic. But you might also have multiple mechanisms for the same opt-in. 

For example. Let’s say you have a 20% discount on their first purchase. 

You might have a traditional welcome pop-up with that offer for anyone who lands on your website. You might also have a landing page with an embedded form that you add to your link in bio on Instagram so they don’t have to wait for your pop-up to appear. But you might also utilize a tool like ManyChat so the Instagram user can opt-in to your email list without ever leaving the Instagram platform. 

An Example Email List-Building Strategy

For the sake of today’s episode, we’re gonna build a list-building strategy for a skincare brand so you can get a sense of how I would optimize this and layer it all together into a strategic plan. 

This is a skincare brand that focuses on people who struggle with acne. 

The main marketing channels are organic Instagram and paid Meta ads.

We have 3 different opt-ins each with a unique welcome series based on how that subscriber came in and a few mechanisms for sign-up based on where the traffic comes from. 

The Discount Offer

The discount offer is promoted on the welcome pop-up, on a landing page with an embedded form, which is featured in our link in bio on Instagram, and we have a ManyChat flow that promotes this discount code. 

The welcome flow for this offer leads with the discount while featuring the best-selling products and easiest yes’

If they don’t convert during the initial welcome flow, we send them a follow-up flow encouraging them to take the product recommendations quiz. 

The Product Recommendations Quiz Offer

The product recommendations quiz is featured in our link in bio on Instagram, in our navigation menu, and we have a ManyChat automation to send people the link directly to the quiz. Because the quiz is also about helping the customer make a buying decision, we share it in our checkout abandonment flow for first-time customers.

The welcome flow for quiz takers also includes a discount, but offers more tailored products and educational information based on what we learned about them through the quiz

The PDF Download Offer

The educational PDF download is focused on a very specific strategy for managing acne and promotes a specific product to help the subscriber implement that strategy. 

In addition to the landing page we direct people to from social, we also feature this download in a few blog posts that speak to the common causes of acne this strategy aims to relieve. 

Because the PDF is focused on a specific strategy, our initial welcome series is focused on this too. We don’t want to give the subscriber too much information as they might get overwhelmed. Instead, consider this welcome flow as a deep-dive into this one strategy and product. It’s almost as if we’re a one-product store. 

Like our discount flow, if they don’t convert we recommend they take the product recommendations quiz so we can send them more tailored information. 

The Pre-Launch Offer

Another list strategy you’ll want to implement is the pre-launch offer. Whether it’s for a new product, collection, or just a big promotion, you’ll want to make sure to layer in some pre-launch events as well. This is my favorite way to grow your email list with people who really want what you sell. 

Check out episode 235 for the details on that process. 

In-Person List Growth Strategy

If you have any sort of in-person component to your business, you’ll want to leverage this as an opportunity to grow your email list too. Check out episode 158 for more details on collecting email signups at in-person events. 

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, the easiest way to collect email addresses is during the checkout process when you’re ringing up the customer. This one will certainly take a bit of training with your staff to make sure they’re asking and properly marketing them as opted-in to receive email marketing, but it’s an absolute must-do. 

You’ll want to make sure you’re compliant with how you’re collecting email addresses based on your local laws. In California for example you can’t require a customer to provide an email address in connection with a credit card transaction. When I was still working in retail stores here, we had to wait until the transaction was complete and we handed the customer their receipt before we could ask for their email address to avoid any confusion. 

When it comes to in-person sign ups, it can be really tempting to offer them something on the spot to sign up. And while that’s perfectly fine, especially if your main goal is to get the sale, I would also use the promise of something in the future as a reason for them to sign up and continue to pay attention.

Like all of the other offers we’ve made so far, you’ll want to make sure you have a unique onboarding series for this group too. If you can reference meeting them at a particular event, or seeing them in a particular store location, even better. 

Then you can create a bounce-back offer for them to use in your online store or for their next in-store purchase. 

Post-Purchase Sign Ups

And that leads me to our last sign-up option, at checkout. When someone is shopping on your eCommerce store, there’s a good chance they’ll skip all of your front-end signup options but end up signing up for your list at checkout. 

In this case, you’ll also want to have a unique post-purchase series for this group so you can tailor the content to them as much as possible. I always recommend including some brand intro content in the post-purchase flow, just in case they never got to go through the welcome flow. 

How to Promote Your Different List Growth Offers

Now that you know what your offers are and have your sign-up mechanisms and follow-up flows set up, now it’s time to promote these offers. 

Of course, your pop-up, links in your Instagram bio or navigation, and your blog post feature signups are all evergreen and always working for you. Yes, you’ll want to pop in on them periodically to check their conversion and see if you need to tweak anything, but can essentially rest assured that they’re working on auto-pilot. 

But as we know, we can’t just sit back passively and hope people take action. Some people will and that’s awesome… but most won’t. 

So it’s your job to intentionally drive traffic to these offers, whether organically through social media and other marketing efforts like collaborations, or through paid advertising. 

Growing Your Email List Through Paid Marketing

If you’re going to use paid ads to drive traffic to your store, as a product-based business I always recommend you focus on creating an evergreen conversion ad with the goal of bringing you paying customers. 

While you’ve heard me talk about using ads for lead generation on the podcast, it’s not something I really recommend in 2024. Yes, it still does work for some eCommerce brands, but at the end of the day, your goal is to sell products so it’s not my first recommendation. 

Once you’ve got your evergreen conversion ads dialed in, you can test out some lead generation if you really want to. Truth be told, you’d probably be better served just increasing your conversion ad budget, or potentially creating a new evergreen funnel with another product, but if you want to test it out you can. 

I would stick to driving traffic to a product recommendation quiz or a PDF download if they already convert well from sign up to sale. 

Growing Your Email List Organically

In most cases, your email list growth efforts are going to be organic through whatever social media channels you’re using. The most important thing to remember is that you have to be relentless about promoting your list and talk about it every single day. 

And how do you do that without feeling annoying?

Well first, we all just have to get over it because not everyone will see what you post and because this is a business and you gotta do what you gotta do. But the real answer is, weave it into your content strategy and mix things up. Sometimes you’ll post a direct ask, other times it’ll be a bit more passive. Sometimes it will be in the feed, sometimes it will be in stories. 

The goal is to align your offers with your current content strategy or create content that supports these offers. 

The order will depend on your priorities for the quarter, the season of your business, the season of your customers, etc. 

For example, if you have a launch happening, you need to work in your pre-launch early access sign-up call to action. 

If you’re running ads and seeing a lot of new follower growth, then talk more about your product recommendations quiz. 

Maybe during this season, your audience struggles more with the topic your PDF download covers so you’ll want to highlight that.

I also recommend that you do your best to focus on one offer at a time. For example, don’t promote the discount one day, the quiz the next day, and then the PDF download the day after that. 

Instead, create 3 days' worth of content where the next logical step is taking the product recommendations quiz and always promote that. Then you can do 3 days related to the topic your PDF covers and always promote that. You get the gist. 

If you want to mix things up between your feed and your stories you can. Maybe you still have at least one story a day that promotes the discount sign-up, regardless of what you’re posting in the feed. The people watching your stores are usually your most engaged followers anyway, so they’ll be the ones most ready to purchase. 

No matter what you’re promoting, it will be in your best interest to utilize a tool like ManyChat when you’re trying to grow your list through social because it just converts way better than saying, hey click the link in my bio. Even the swipe up in stories doesn’t work nearly as well. 

I’ll stick my affiliate link in the show notes for ManyChat which will get you 30 days of pro for free to test out. Plus, though ManyChat has been around for a while, it’s been blowing up and catching traction lately with more businesses using it, which means the consumer is getting more and more comfortable with it. It really is a must-hae.

At the end of the day, there are no hard and fast rules. I know that can sometimes be disheartening… rules are easier to follow. But ultimately, just pick what feels right for your marketing strategy at any given moment. 

Actually I lied, there is one rule. Don’t overthink it. Remind yourself that this is just a human on the other side looking for the outcome your product provides. If you don’t show up and let them know what you have available and make it super easy for them to do what you’re asking, you’re doing them a disservice. 

Your Next Steps

Alright, so what are your next steps? First, I want you to audit your opt-in offers, the sign-up mechanisms, and the follow-up flows. Make sure you’ve got all those set up properly and optimized for each individual group. 

Then, sit down with your content plan and plug-in when it makes sense to promote which offer. If you’ve never really sat down to create a strategic content plan, consider this your sign and snag Content Badassery if you need a structure to follow and some content prompts to get you started. 

Then, rinse and repeat every quarter until the end of time of owning your business. Seriously. Running a retail business is literally rinsing and repeating the same shit over and over with a few new product launches, and new unique strategies sprinkled in. 

Listen to the Episode

Timestamps

00:00 Introduction and Q3 Planning

01:09 Importance of Email List Growth

02:07 Strategies for Effective List Growth

02:57 Crafting a List Growth Strategy

04:27 Driving Traffic to Your Offers

04:50 Signup Mechanisms and Optimization

05:54 Building a Skincare Brand Strategy

09:09 In-Person and Checkout Signups

12:00 Promoting Your Offers

12:39 Paid Ads and Organic Growth

13:35 Content Strategy and Consistency

18:57 Final Tips and Next Steps

20:31 Conclusion

Episodes Mentioned

See the full eCommerce Badassery Podcast Database

43. List Building for eCommerce Businesses

158. [BIZ BITE] What’s the Best Way to Collect Email Addresses at In-Person Events?

235. How to Run a Promotion or Product Launch in Your eCommerce Business

Craft Your eCommerce Content Strategy

Content Badassery

Links Mentioned

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Hey, I'm Jessica

I support scrappy female entrepreneurs with actionable steps & strategies to grow and scale the traffic, sales & profit in their eCommerce businesses. 

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