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. But the reality is that the followers you have on social media could be lost in a moment. 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.

Of course, 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.

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 is usually a more compelling way to attract sign-ups than simply asking people to subscribe to your newsletter for the latest updates.

"Customers don't sign up for email - they sign up for your brand." Quote by Bob Frady

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 ‘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. My advice is to develop ‘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, 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. This is where a targeted call to action comes in – feature one 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 your lead magnet. Ideally, you should remove as many distractions as possible (i.e. navigation menus, sidebars, etc.) on a landing page so that visitors have just one job to do – sign up to your mailing list.

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:

Moz Hub pages

But how does this help Moz to grow its mailing list?

Just below the Hub links, Moz has a call to action:

Moz mailing list sign up example

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.

If you need help with any aspect of marketing your training business, do get in touch to find out more about the Trainer Talk community and support.

This article was originally published in January 2013, updated in June 2020


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