Originally published in January 2013, updated June 2020
This is the first of a two-part blog exploring how to grow your email mailing list as a freelance trainer. You can check out part two about brilliant lead magnet ideas for trainers here.
One of the most powerful marketing tools you can have in terms of growing your training business is a mailing list, i.e. contact details for people who have signed up to receive emails about your business.
A surprising number of freelancers and businesses rely on social media for new clients. However, the reality is that the followers you have on social media could be lost in a moment. All you would need to do is accidentally contravene a social media platform’s rules and your profile could get shut down. It might be unlikely, but it’s possible.
Your mailing list, your data
With a mailing list, you own the data. This is even more important since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) introduced in 2018. People on your mailing list have actively handed over their details and gone through an authentication process agreeing to be contacted. They can also remove themselves from your list by unsubscribing.
As so-called ‘warm leads’, your existing clients and people who are interested enough in your business to sign up to your mailing list are easier to sell to than people who have never heard of your business before.
However, inbox overwhelm is a by-product of modern life. With many of us receiving hundreds of emails a day, people are generally becoming more selective about which mailing lists they sign up to.
If you want to keep growing your mailing list, you will need to show people that you offer value. It has to be clear that handing over their email address will benefit them in some way.1311
One of the most common ways to do this is to provide an incentive or ‘lead magnet’ (AKA an ‘opt-in bribe’) to encourage sign-ups. This is where individuals add their details to a lead capture form and then receive access to a free, low cost or exclusive gift in exchange. This tends to be a more compelling way to attract sign-ups than simply asking people to subscribe to your newsletter for the latest updates.
Define your lead magnet
What you offer will depend on your clients. Your aim should be to provide something that makes people think, “Wow! If this is what I get when I’m not even a client, how much more will I get when I am?”
Try to think of an incentive that answers a common question, solves a problem or addresses a need that your target clients have. You might want to give quite ‘top-level’ information so that people come to you to find out more. Many experts recommend incentives that explain the ‘why’ of an issue but not the ‘how’, i.e. how to resolve it – after all, that’s what you’re there for.
Also, consider what it would be easiest for you to create and what format would work best for you and your clients.
You might want to create different lead magnets for different segments of your audience or to front different marketing campaigns. Generally speaking though, aim for ‘Evergreen’ lead magnets, i.e. an offering that won’t quickly go out of date. This will help you to make the most of your budget and to keep benefiting from your content, long after it’s created.
Only you can decide what’s right for your business.
If you’re not sure where to start, I urge you to check out my 11 irresistible lead magnet ideas for freelance trainers.
Always use a call to action (CTA)
People often won’t sign up to your mailing list unless you ask them to. It’s a good idea to include a targeted call to action on every page of your website, including all of your blog articles. If you have a lead magnet that ties in with the topic of a blog then be sure to promote it.
Create a dedicated landing page
Websites can be distracting. One way to grow your mailing list as much as possible is to create a dedicated landing page promoting it. Ideally, you should remove as many distractions as possible (i.e. navigation menus, sidebars, etc.) for the landing page. This is because you want visitors to sign up to your mailing list before they do anything else.
Build hub pages
If you have loads of blog articles, you could pull them together into ‘hub’ pages that group your articles into categories. Here’s an example from SEO specialists Moz:
But how does this help Moz to grow its mailing list?
Just below the Hub links, Moz has a call to action:
In other words, if people have found the hub helpful, they are encouraged to get more targeted information and training by signing up to the mailing list. You could add a similar call to action to your blog hub and then send out a link in your newsletter every time you add new content.
Do you offer a lead magnet to grow your mailing list? If so, I’d love to hear about it in the Comments section below.
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