Building Your Email Subscribers List: 8 Things You Need to Do Now!

Before you begin to build your email subscribers list, you should think about why you want one in the first place.  Do you have a product to sell (perhaps you have a theatre company that regularly puts on performances or a gallery selling art) or do you want to build up an audience who is engaged with your organisation that you can fundraise from?  Or do you have another need entirely?  Obviously, my focus is on fundraising but try to brainstorm ideas about how you will use your email list: what it’s primarily for (fundraising) and what else you might want to use it for (building brand loyalty, raising awareness of events, selling products etc.).

Depending on your needs you may want to segment your list into different ‘types’.  For example, I have an email newsletter subscribers list that’s segmented into organisation type so I can send more tailored information to organisations depending on the field they are in.  I also have a separate ecourse list for people taking part in my free fundraising course.

Once you have a strategy for using this list, you can then start to go about building it.

Having a healthy list of email subscribers, means you will be in a strong position to develop a communication programme which helps your organisation to reach a large number of donors and potential donors.  Having email subscribers also uses your resources more effectively in terms of time and cost.  It does take time to build an email list but once you have encouraged high numbers of people to subscribe to your communications, you then have an audience that you can promote your work to with the aim of increasing their awareness of your organisation and encouraging their support.

1. The first step to building an email list is to sign up to an email marketing company.  I use AWeber (and I’d recommend them) but there are many others, including Dotmailer, MailChimp and Constant Contact.  Search Google for Email Marketing company reviews to help you decide on  service that best meets your needs both now and in the future.  Using an email marketing service rather than simply sending out your own emails means that you can develop newsletters, set up autoresponders (more of which later) and sign up new subscribers automatically via your website.

2. Unlike  a traditional prospect database where you’d want to collect as much information as possible, you probably only want to ask people to provide their full name and email address when asking them to sign up for your newsletter – see my homepage for a newsletter sign up button (which was provided via Constant Contact).  This means they’ll be more likely to sign up online than if you ask them to provide lots of information about themselves.

3. Add  a sign up button to every page of your website, which asks people to sign up to receive your newsletter. And try to give a compelling reason why they should sign up – will they get free advice, be the first to hear about offers or events, receive access to a free ecourse, regular tips – try to consider what might be of value to potential subscribers (the point being that simply receiving another email newsletter is unlikely to be appealing enough – so how can you give added value?)

4. As well as sending a welcome email to everyone who subscribes, you can also create a series of welcome emails – like the one you may have received from me – that will provide you with the opportunity to get in touch with them through 4 or 5 welcome emails over 3 to 4 weeks ideally.  This gives you the chance to tell them more about your organisation and raise their awareness about what it is that you do.  However, I wouldn’t necessarily use these to raise money.  Consider them more as welcoming new people to your organisation, creating an awareness of what you do and encourage their loyalty/continued interest in what it is that you do.  And be creative!

5. As with any other communication strategy, make a plan to communicate regularly with your email list – be that weekly, fortnightly or monthly – and create some interesting content for them.  While you may use these emails to ask for money, remember that you are try to build awareness, interest and loyalty so don’t ask for money in every email that you send.  In fact, it’s recommended that you only ask for money in 1 in every 5 to 10 emails at most.

6. Competitions are a great way of encouraging people to subscribe to your emails so, if you can, offer entry in a prize draw for those signing up during a particularly period of time.  Perhaps you are a theatre company who can offer tickets to productions; or have products available for sale that you could offer as a prize.  However, if neither of these is an option, maybe your Board can provide a prize that will appeal.

7. Include information about subscribing to your newsletter in every communication you have – obviously, on your website where it can be automated – but also in your email signature, your company letterhead and at the bottom of every email communication/newsletter that you send out.

8.  Be creative.  Deliver interesting, engaging content that your readers will be interested in and you will build your email list over time.

For more advice or information read:

Build Your Email Subscribers List 
Using Facebook to Build an Email Subscribers List

Is there anything that you think I’ve missed or any tips that have worked particularly well for your organisation in terms of attracting – and keeping – email subscribers?  Let me know in the comments below.

6 Responses to “Building Your Email Subscribers List: 8 Things You Need to Do Now!

  • Great post Heather for the Blog Carnival I’m hosting this month for Business Plus Baby will be taking some of your suggestions on board! Emma

    • activatefundraising
      13 years ago

      Thanks Emma – looking forward to reading this month’s Blog Carnival so will be popping over to ‘yours’ soon!

  • Hi Heather- You’ve made some points I hadn’t considered; I’ll be revising my strategy with your new ideas in mind – thanks!

  • Great read – I particularly agree with No4: new subscribers to the PhotoFairytales mailing list receive an email with a money off voucher to spend on the site about 2 weeks after they sign up. I think its a great way of giving members a little reminder about the site, and a freebie as a “thank you” too. Sarah 🙂

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