How to build your mailing list
Newsletters are a really effective way to keep customers up to date with your work, events, offers and promotions. But before you start firing off emails, you need people to send it to! You need a mailing list of customers who want to hear your news.
So here are our tips on how to build a mailing list for your newsletter, convert your social media followers into subscribers, and what you need to know before you add anyone to your mailing list.
How (and why) to turn customers into subscribers
If a customer has bought a piece of your work, or spent a long time swooning over your stall at a craft fair, it means they like what you’re doing. These are the people you want on your mailing list because they have already shown an interest in your work and are therefore likely to want to know more. Nurture these customers and they could become your biggest advocates. Then, as well as possibly buying from you again, they can help spread the word about your business, share your news, offers and events, and generally tell the world how brilliant you are.
However, you need to have someone’s explicit permission to add them to your mailing list – even if they have already bought from you and you have their email address. It’s important to know that under the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you can only contact a customer about a specific order, so emailing them to invite them to sign up to your mailing list or adding them directly is illegal. However, you could include a thank-you note with their order and include a link where they can sign up to your newsletter if they choose, so you can keep them up to date with offers.
If you’re at a craft fair, you could either have a ‘join my mailing list’ form in a prominent place on your stall, or, if you’re short on space, keep it behind your stall and if someone shows an interest in your work, invite them to join your mailing list. Lots of visitors to craft fairs won’t be in a position to buy on the day, but by adding them to your mailing list you’re giving yourself the opportunity to sell to them later.
Remember: Before you sign up anyone to a newsletter, you must get their permission. You must also give them the option to opt out. You can find more information about your legal obligations at www.gov.uk/marketing-advertising-law/direct-marketing.
Converting social followers in subscribers
You might have a large social media following, but as many businesses (small and large) know, it can be hard to get these fans to click on your links and convert into customers. There are various ways you can encourage your followers to sign up to your mailing lists, and these depend on the platforms you are using.
On your blog
If you use an email marketing service like Mailchimp, it’s easy to create a customised sign-up page. If you have a blog you could then embed this in your sidebar or at the end of your posts. Alternatively (or additionally) you could create a pop-up that appears on your blog posts or on the landing page of your blog, which invites visitors to sign up to your newsletter. Although some people dislike pop-ups, they are proven to be very effective, so it’s worth trying and keeping a track of your sign-ups.
There are lots of options available now like Popup Builder that allow you to customise what your pop-up looks like, where it sits on the page and when it pops ups, so you can tailor it to suit your brand and make it as discreet as you like – or go the other way and make it as flashy and all-singing and dancing as you like by using animated pop-ups.
On your Facebook page
Facebook now has a nice ‘call-to-action’ button that sits just underneath your banner. You can set that as a ‘Shop Now’ button and link through to your Folksy shop, but you can also set it as a ‘Sign Up’ button and link through to your newsletter sign-up page. It’s worth experimenting with the function of that call-to-action button to see if you can encourage more sign-ups here as well as more sales. Remember, someone might not be ready to buy straight away, but if they’re signed up to your newsletter they might be tempted another time.
If you use Mailchimp, you can also add a sign-up form as a tab on your Facebook page. This will appear below your banner, next to your other tabs and apps. You can find out more about Facebook apps and how they work here >
In many ways Twitter is at its best when it’s used for conversations, building your network and keeping up to date with news (and the Kardashians), but that doesn’t mean you can’t tweet about your products too, let people know you have a newsletter and tell them where they can sign up. Try to make your tweets as inviting as possible though, rather than spammy.
Our inboxes are all flooded with people trying to sell us things, so you need to give people a reason to want to subscribe – what will they get in your newsletter that’s interesting and different? Will newsletter subscribers be the first to find out about new products and offers, will they find interesting articles that you’ve written on your blog, exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpses, or maybe a free craft tutorial?
When you’ve sent out a newsletter, tweet about that too – include a snippet or image from the newsletter, and tell people where they can see it by including a permalink (a permanent static link to your newsletter). Mailchimp also gives you the option to create a Social Card when you design your email. A Social Card allows you to choose a featured image and the text that will be displayed when your campaign is shared on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. It also means that people can click on that card and be taken directly to your newsletter.
Because Instagram doesn’t currently allow clickable links in posts, you have to work quite hard to convert followers into subscribers. There are several things you could try to improve your conversions here…
- You could post a photo of one of your most recent products, or something you’re in the process of making, and invite followers to sign up to your newsletter so they can be the first to know when it goes on sale on shop.
- Let your followers know that your newsletter contains exclusive offers or promotional codes, so they have an incentive to sign up.
- You could try running a competition through Instagram, and give people the option to sign up to your newsletter when they enter. A word of warning though: you must make signing up to your newsletter optional and not a condition of entry. You may also get people who sign up just to enter the competition and immediately unsubscribe or never open an email. But if you can make your newsletter a brilliant read, you might just keep them. Find tips for running a successful competition here >
- Post a picture or screenshot from your most recent newsletter, so they see for themselves how amazing your newsletter is.
- Tempt them to sign up to your newsletter by including content in there that they can’t get anywhere else, and then post hints about this exclusive content on Instagram. If they’re real fans, they’ll be desperate to sign up.
- If you have a Swipe-Up button on your Stories, link show a snippet from your newsletter and link to a hosted sign-up form.
People get bombarded every day with emails, so there has to be a good reason for them to subscribe to yet another one.
Make your invite inviting!
Wherever you promote your newsletter, think carefully about how you invite people to join. Companies spend a lot of time considering how to entice people to sign up to their newsletters. You won’t find many using bland copy like “add me to your mailing list” as it’s just not inviting enough. People get bombarded every day with emails, so there has to be a good reason for them to subscribe to yet another one.
Think about what you will be including in your newsletters and why people might want to read them. Will you be including special offers, exclusive content, first glimpses of new products, a look behind the scenes, craft tutorials, competitions? What will they be getting that’s interesting or different? Tell them the good stuff they’ll be getting in your sign-up invitation.
Have a look at how other makers or companies you admire do it. What kind of language do they use? Which ones have tempted you to subscribe? Which ones put you off?
Tip: It may seem insignificant, but an invitation to “join” your mailing list is much more appealing than asking someone to “sign up”.
Next time we look at how to create newsletters people actually want to read, so you don’t lose those precious subscribers you’ve worked so hard to gain.