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how to build your e-newsletter database big and strong

how to build your e-newsletter database big and strong


Does your social media engagement suck lately? Dodge the algorithm overlords by building your own marketing network of e-news subscribers.

Angela D’Alton and Renee Baker love mentoring makers in what it takes to run a creative business. After years working at places like Etsy and The Finders Keepers, they now offer one-on-one services through D’Alton Baker Productions, run online courses at Make Good Things Happen and host online eco-craft-stash sales on Craft Swap. We asked them for their best advice on how to nab more subscribers for your brand’s email newsletter (aka digital marketing that you can control).

REACH OUT ON SOCIALS Where are you going to find people already loyal to your brand? Your own social media, that’s where! Tap into followers on different platforms by creating regular posts, stories or reels explaining the advantages of subscribing to your newsletter. Are they going to get previews of your new collections? Will they have special discounts? Can they access new items before anyone else? These are powerful benefits for people who already love your stuff.

Pop a little preview of your newsletter up on social media to give followers an idea of what it looks like. You could even use that preview image in digital ad campaigns to get more email sign-ups. Try one with a great picture of your hero product, too. You’ll want to make it easy for people to sign up, so include a link to subscribe in all your social media profiles. Try one of those Linktree or type set-ups, and pop your e-news subscription up near the top.

NAB WEBSITE VISITORS As with social followers, make sure there’s a clear incentive for people to sign up on your website. This could be a straight-up offer – “sign up now to receive 10 per cent off your first order” – or, if you’re a clever clog who provides services, maybe include a cool instructional download in exchange for subscription. Even if you’re just offering to send subscribers fun e-news every now and then, have a bit of text explaining the perks of signing up, and be sure to manage people’s expectations by telling them how often you’re likely to send it and what it might be about.

Oh, and make sure there are lots of spots where people can subscribe:

  • A specific sign-up landing page. This would be where that social media link-in-bio clicks through to.
  • A section on your home page with a strong call-to-action. (But make sure it’s after 60 per cent of the page has been read or scrolled down – apparently that’s the sweet spot.)
  • A link in the footer. This is where many website visitors will go to find the nitty-gritty links. 

It’s about capturing all the ways people might want to sign up for your newsletter, as opposed to thinking, It’s in the footer! That’s enough. Our favourite way to catch new subscribers is via the online shopping checkout process. Trust and believe: having a newsletter opt-in while you’re in the process of buying something works wonders. Keep the default option as ‘on’, so that people have to untick it if they don’t want to sign up. Shoppers are focused on the transaction and feeling that glow of connection to your brand, so it’s way less of a big deal for them to say, “OK, you can send me an email.”

MAKE IT EASY The less information you ask for, the better. And by that we mean only ask for people’s email address and first name (but don’t make that ‘required’). If you’re after phone numbers, that’s already too much info, and people will just click away. The more information you’re asking for, the fewer subscribers you will get. Make the whole thing as quick, easy and fun as possible.

Once people are signed up successfully, it’s a nice idea to include a ‘thank you’ or ‘welcome’ response on the page. You could also create an automation series that welcomes new subscribers over several days or weeks, with different messages introducing your business and your brand.

CATCH THEM OUTSIDE Got a stall at an event, trade show, market or pop-up? Then you’ve got a sweet face-to-face opportunity to encourage people to sign up. Pre-pandemic, we always encouraged business-owners to use an old-school clipboard, pen and paper to gather email addresses. It’s an easy way for people at events to establish a quick digital connection with you, to say, “I like your gear, send me an email about it later when I’m not dealing with a crowd to see it.”

These days, you might generate a QR code taking people to that sign-up landing page we mentioned above. Display it strategically on your stall, so people can sign up while they’re walking around, phone in hand, without having to touch anything. Somewhere in the middle of those two options, there’s the tablet version, where you provide a form on the screen and people can tap in their data on the spot.

Oh, and don’t forget to mention it when you’re chatting with people! Make sure the e-news is part of your sales process – maybe customers sign up while you’re wrapping their purchase – and for people who aren’t yet ready to buy, you can always say, “Sign up to my newsletter if you like.” If you’re a bit techy, you can sometimes get people to sign up on the spot and receive 10 per cent off the order they’re about to pay you for, too. Much like the web pop-up, these offers work really well.

Angela and Renee share lots more business-y ideas at Make Good Thing Happen, where it’s their mission to support, educate, connect and inform small business owners who create and sell their own products with their educational subscriptions and mentorships.

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