What is the First Step in Email List Building?

Here’s the question that’s on everyone’s mind when they start thinking about mailing lists:

“Which email marketing platform should I use?”

You’ve probably wondered yourself, and maybe even spent a few hours (or days, or weeks) researching your options.


This is not the question you should be asking (yet). And it’s exactly why so many entrepreneurs get stuck in the planning stage of list building.

Questions to Ask When You Begin Building Your Email List.

Before you need to think about tools, you must ask yourself this:

“How can I best serve my market?”

Whether you’re coaching business owners, new moms, bloggers, or youth pastors, they have a need that only you can fulfill. And when you discover what that need is, you’ll have two valuable pieces of information:

  1. What incentive will be a true no-brainer for your ideal client to opt-in to your list?
  2. How can you use your mailing list to provide the best value for those who join your list?

Don’t over-think these questions, though. Your opt-in incentive can be as simple as a resource guide or a short how-to video that answers a common question. You don’t have to go overboard with dozens of downloads and a 100-page eBook. Rather than providing value, these massive downloads are more likely to overwhelm your reader than encourage her to learn more.

And when it comes to providing value to your list members, keep three things in mind:

  1. Regular communication is imperative (consider setting up a nurture funnel, aka nurture campaign)
  2. Marketing is second to information—too much selling will cause your opt-out rates to soar. You must nurture your list before attempting to sell to them.
  3. It’s your responsibility as an authority figure (expert) in your market to distill and provide the information, tools, and products your audience needs.

“What is my list-building goal?”

How will you be using your list? Will you:

  • Send a weekly or monthly newsletter?
  • Create a nurture funnel/sales funnel that delivers content on a preplanned schedule?
  • Promote affiliates in order to generate income?
  • Promote your own services and products?

The answers to these questions will help you determine not only the right tool for your list-building needs, but will also determine the path for your ongoing mailing list content, promotions, and growth.

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