A Guide to Setting Up a Mailing List for Subscribers

A mailing list is an effective way to stay in touch with subscribers and customers, whether you are running an online business or operating offline. Building an engaged email subscriber list takes time and effort, but it can pay off tremendously in the long run by building customer loyalty. Here is a guide to help you set up a mailing list for your subscribers.

Choosing an Email Service Provider

The first step is choosing an email service provider (ESP) to host your mailing list. Some popular options include:

  • MailChimp – Free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers. Easy to use with excellent templates and analytics.
  • Constant Contact – Affordable pricing starting at £10 per month. Ideal for small businesses and bloggers.
  • AWeber – More advanced features like autoresponders. It’s free for up to 500 subscribers then $12.50/month for the Lite plan.
  • ConvertKit – Made for creators and digital products. The free plan is for up to 1,000 subscribers. 
  • Mailerlite – This is also free for up to 1,000 subscribers, with paid plans for bigger lists.

Consider how many subscribers you expect, the features you need, and your budget when choosing an ESP. Most have free trial periods so you can test them out. Take the time to thoroughly evaluate each option – don’t just go with the first provider you find. 

Weigh the pros and cons of pricing tiers, ease of use, deliverability rates, integration options, analytics, and customer support. 

While the core functionality of sending and tracking emails will be similar across providers, the additional features can vary widely. For example, if you plan to sell products or services through your mailing list, make sure your chosen ESP integrates smoothly with your e-commerce platform. Don’t get locked into an email provider that won’t scale as your needs grow.

Setting Up Your List

Once you’ve chosen an email provider, it’s time to set up your mailing list. Most ESPs make this process very simple by walking you through these steps:

  • Name your mailing list – Choose something catchy and descriptive. Come up with a few options and test them out with people you trust to get unbiased feedback. 
  • Create subscription forms – This is where people will sign up by entering their email address. Embed forms on your website, blog, and sales pages. Design clean, mobile-friendly forms that are easy to complete.
  • Customise welcome emails – Write a friendly welcome message to engage new subscribers. Include links to drive them back to your content. Personalise these emails with the subscriber’s first name.
  • Integrate with payment processor – If you plan to charge for a paid newsletter, integrate your ESP with a payment processor like PayPal. Make sure the payment process is seamless.
  • Add unsubscribe link – Every email must include a one-click unsubscribe link. Place this link in the footer of your emails in an easy-to-find location.

Double check that your forms, welcome emails, and general emails look professional before launching your mailing list. While functionality is most important, presentation and design set the tone for subscribers’ experience.

Growing Your Subscriber List

Now that your mailing list is set up, it’s time to grow your audience! Here are some effective tactics:

  • Blog calls to action – In every blog post, invite readers to subscribe to your newsletter. Place these CTAs strategically near the top and bottom of each post.
  • Social media prompts – Occasionally promote your mailing list on social channels like Facebook and X. Leverage social proof by sharing when followers sign up.
  • Website pop-up – Website pop-ups or slide-ins can convert visitors into subscribers. But don’t overdo them! Find a balance between generating awareness and annoying visitors. 
  • Lead magnets – Offer a freebie like an ebook, toolkit, or checklist in exchange for an email address. Promote your lead magnet across all platforms and channels. If you have a PDF book to send to your subscribers, there are PDF compress tools that let you compress PDF documents so they are easier to email.
  • Partnerships and guest posts – Partner with other bloggers and sites to cross-promote each others’ newsletters. Reach out personally to like-minded creators.
  • Paid ads – Consider a small paid advertising spend to accelerate subscriber growth. Facebook and Instagram ads are a good start. Research your target audience to choose the right platforms.
  • Referral incentives – Encourage existing subscribers to refer friends by offering rewards. This could be discounts, exclusive content, or shoutouts.
  • Live events – If you host in-person or virtual events, promote signups onsite. Capture attendee details for future promotions.

The key is trying multiple tactics and sticking with what works best for your audience. Don’t worry if your list is small at first – focus on delivering quality content and it will grow. Be patient and persistent.

Creating Valuable Newsletter Content

You’ve put in the hard work to build your subscriber list – now it’s time to engage them with great content! 

  • Send a regular cadence like weekly or monthly newsletters. Consistency helps build trust and loyalty. Choose a frequency that fits with your resources.
  • Write compelling subject lines that make readers excited to open your emails. Test different options and see which get the best open rates. Study what works well for others in your industry. 
  • Structure your content with a mix of original articles, curated links, images, and videos. Break up text with visual elements to keep it scannable. Vary content formats to cater to different learning styles.
  • Personalise emails by segmenting your list based on interests and engagement. Send targeted content to different subscriber groups. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Find a balance between promotional content and value-driven content. Subscribers will unsubscribe if emails become too salesy. Sprinkle promos between quality educational content.
  • Ask for feedback and input from your subscribers. Use surveys and polls to find out what content they want. This engagement creates a two-way relationship.
  • Occasionally surprise and delight with contests, giveaways, and exclusive offers. This builds buzz and gets existing subscribers to re-engage.

Delivering relevant, engaging content is the best way to build a loyal following over time. Treat your subscribers with value and respect, and your hard work establishing your mailing list will pay dividends. Don’t just email into a void – actively engage with your audience. 

Key Takeaways

  • Choose the right email service provider based on your subscriber goals, features, and budget. Shop around for free trials. 
  • Set up your list by naming it, creating forms, customising welcome emails, and integrating payment if needed. 
  • Grow your list through blog CTAs, social prompts, website pop-ups, lead magnets, partnerships, guest posts, ads, referrals, and events.
  • Create regular, valuable content to engage your subscribers by mixing articles, links, images, videos, promotions, surveys, polls, contests, and exclusives.
  • Research competitors and industry leaders to get ideas and benchmark your performance. Learn from others’ success.
  • Be patient – building a mailing list takes time. Focus on quality over quantity in the beginning. Deliver consistent value.

Setting up and growing a mailing list takes consistent time and effort, but the rewards are worth it. Use this guide as a checklist to get started and engage your ideal subscribers. Don’t get overwhelmed – take it step-by-step. Before you know it, you’ll have a thriving community eager to hear from you!

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