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Beginner's handbook Marketing tips

The easy way we doubled our email list, and you can too

By Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you’ve done any research into ecommerce marketing, you’re sure to have noticed the heavy focus on email marketing. And if you haven’t, then listen closely.

Email marketing drives more sales than social media, website, and display ads combined. – emarketer

For this reason, it’s important to have a robust email list. The logic is…well…logical: the more emails you have, the more people you can engage for sales, the more sales you make.

Rather than limiting your email list growth to the amount of people who have made a purchase from you, you can actively collect email addresses to masterfully funnel into buyers later on. We did that with the Printful blog, and within one campaign, doubled our list subscribers.

In this post we’ll show you how you can double your email list too.

Before getting into the details of this post, I want to acknowledge that we know that the Printful blog is different from an ecommerce store, and so is the method of attracting new customers. That being said, the method used can easily be adapted for online stores.

 Our results – doubled subscriber growth within one month

Screen Shot 2016-09-07 at 13.48.14

I’d like to draw your attention to the month of October, 2015. You can see a significant spike in followers.

Despite steady growth up to October, you can see that it doesn’t even come close to the growth achieved in October itself. This was obviously a record growth month, and it came about from a very specific campaign.

How we did it –

The method is excruciatingly simple.

What we did was all based on giving our readers what they need, when they need it. 

More specifically, we created and launched a Holiday Ecommerce Marketing Guide, which was downloadable in exchange for the reader’s email address.

The guide contained:

  • a 40 page tutorial on holiday marketing including statistics, trends and ideas
  • a pre-made editorial calendar outlining the deadlines for each store to begin different marketing activities
  • ready-made holiday-specific email templates
  • holiday social media order deadline visuals
  • A holiday ecommerce marketing checklist

The guide was available totally free, in exchange of the reader’s email address, of course.

We put together a landing page where people could get the guide. Here’s what it looked like:

Screen Shot 2016-09-15 at 15.31.03

Factors that make visitors want to get your content

This tactic was effective for many reasons.

Timing – This was launched early October. This is the time when online stores should really be thinking about their holiday season strategy to make the most of the seasonal increase in sales. This speaks to the ecommerce manager/small business owner who knows they should be doing something, but haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. And let’s face it, that usually describes the majority of us.

Helpfulness – The guide gives the reader something that’s truly helpful to them. It solves a concrete problem that they have, and therefore they’re more than willing (nay, enthusiastic!) to get their hands on it. No sales required.

Price – Since the guide was free, there was a low “barrier to entry”. The reader only stands to gain. This also makes the transaction totally fair – you get a free guide that will save your butt this season, and we get to send you our news.

Though the theory is simple, execution is key. Playing the long game.

Though you’ve already cashed in (aka received the emails) for your genius offer, what’s equally important is following through.

If your offered content doesn’t do what it promises, or if it isn’t helpful, or executed poorly, then there will be no benefit to your newly bolstered email list. Why? Because your credentials will have flown out the window. Your subscriber will not be looking forward to news from you, and your brand will suffer. This is why you have to make sure that your offered content is really good.

How to apply this method to ecommerce stores

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you, as an ecommerce store owner, can’t leverage the same marketing tactic as Printful. Because you can! Here are some ideas on how to transfer this knowledge to the B2C realm.

Know your audience

The very first step in creating compelling content for your visitors is to know them. Know what problems they face on an everyday basis, and offer them something to help ease that particular painpoint.

Here are some methods of finding out what they want:

1) Ask them

It sounds painfully obvious because it is. If you want to know what they want, just ask them. But not flat out “what do you want us to give you for free”, but rather in a more elegant way, like “what is your biggest challenge when it comes to [your industry]”.

2) Leverage forums

Take a look at your own relevant forums, or, for example, Reddit, which has a little bit of everything. What are people talking about? What gets the most attention? What generates the most outrage, and which answers are considered to be most helpful?

Once you’ve observed, put up a question of your own. Offer up your content idea and listen to the feedback. It’ll give you a better idea of real needs before you start investing in building content.

3) Use keyword trends

By knowing which keywords are trending in your industry, you’ll know exactly what’s relevant, and what people are currently interested in- be it calligraphy posters, inspirational mugs, or in-your-face crop tops.

To implement keyword analysis, you can use the free Google Keyword Planner. Check out Hubspot’s Beginner Guide to Keyword Research to get the lowdown on using this powerful, yet initially tricky tool. It’ll be worth it.

Create your content that you’ll offer for free

The next step is to make your content.

The format of your content is only limited by your imagination. It can be a PDF guide, a video workshop/tutorial, an ebook, printable templates, or more.

Whatever the content is, you have to make sure that it’s easily transferrable digitally. Though you certainly can offer, for example, a t-shirt or something tangible, this is less scalable and more expensive in the long run. If you make a digital product, then it can be reused for an unlimited amount of time.

Make your content available

Once you’ve created your content, you have to make it available somehow. There are a few ways and places you can do that. Here are some excellent choices.

Within a blog post

Here the principle is that the offer is connected to a blog post. Your reader reads the blog, and they want to download your offered content.

For example, this is a blog post we wrote, that states in the header that there’s a free, downloadable checklist.

Free checklist

When you go into the blog post and scroll to the bottom, you’ll see the button prompting you to get your checklist:

sumome content upgrade button

Then a popup shows up prompting you to leave your email address:

Lead popup

And then you’re automatically redirected to the document, which is saved as a Google Doc.

For offering your product in a blog post, we suggest using the SumoMe Leads Magnet tool. It’s a free tool and lets your visitors access the content immediately after leaving their email address (as we live in an impatient world, time is of the essence).

2) In a pop-up

This may be the most popular way to attract email subscriptions. You can set up your website so that a pop-up appears in reaction to a defined behaviour. For example, as soon as your visitor arrives, when they’re about to leave, or after they’ve spent a certain amount of time browsing.

Consider using MaxTraffic and Nosto for this purpose.

Here are a few examples of using content in popups in exchange for an email address from our last blog post, which outlines 40 ways to use popups in your online store.

elegant themes


3) In your own landing page

This may require some more advanced technical knowledge if you want to do it like Printful did for the Holiday Marketing Guide.

However, there are plenty of landing page tools out there that you can use, and you can combine them with the SumoMe Lead Magnet tool to use that platform to drive new subscribes.

Some landing page tools to consider are: Easy Landing Pages (WordPress plugin), Leadpages, Instapage

Bonus: Boost your content with Facebook ads

Possibly the most underutilized tool at the moment (besides Facebook Live). Use Facebook ads with a modest budget to spread the word about your FREE (yes, make sure to include this trigger word in your copy!) content. Take a look at this piece on creating Facebook ads that convert to get you started.

Now you’re in on the secret

And there it is, folks. That easy. Now that you know our secret to doubling our email list, all that’s left is to go and give it a try! We’re sure you’ll be thrilled with the results.

Now that we’ve shared our subscription secret, we want to hear yours! Have you had any success in growing your subscribers? Let us know how in the comments!

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  1. Adrian Velazquez

    At what point would you consider building up an email list? I’ve heard the sooner, the better from some sources, and others say to establish your following and niche first. I’ve tried to do a bit of both simultaneously and its a bit daunting. jut curious to know the experiences with this from other small online business owners. Thanks!

  2. Pingback: The best online tools to increase website conversions [+Free Black Friday popup templates inside] | Blog - Printful

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