How to Build Your Email List

Email marketing is one of the best ways to connect with clients and potential clients. But to get results from your email marketing efforts, you need to make email list building a priority.

My series The Financial Advisor’s Guide to Email Marketing helps financial advisors understand how email marketing works so they can properly use financial email marketing strategies to connect with prospects and gain more clients.

Now it is time to dig deep into the various aspects of email marketing and see how to make it all work.

It all starts with an email list. For marketing purposes,  it is simply a list of emails that you’ve gathered from people who have agreed to receive marketing communications from your company. Email list building refers to the actions you take to get more people to subscribe to your emails. The better you are at attracting people to subscribe to your email list, the more effective your email marketing will be.

Building Your Email List

If you are wondering if you should buy an email list, the short answer is “no.” In the past, buying email lists was a common practice and could be effective, but those days are long gone. In most cases, buying an email list is a waste of money and time. The leads are often outdated, and because people are more and more protective of their inbox, they are likely to mark your messages as spam. 

There are a number of best practices you should follow when building an email list. Most importantly, be respectful of people’s wishes and follow regulation guidelines, but don’t be shy about pursuing subscribers. 

Start With Who You Know

Because you have an existing business relationship with your clients, they expect you to be in regular communication with them. Start by adding your clients to your email list. This will help to keep you top of mind with them and, as long as you’re providing valuable information, it will also give them something they can easily forward to their friends. 

While you are adding clients to your list, you might be tempted to add people in your network to your email list as well. Unless they have given you their permission, stop and resist the temptation. Not only can it be a turnoff because people don’t like receiving email they didn’t sign up for, but adding subscribers without their permission can violate CAN-SPAM regulations, result in potentially getting your email account shut down, and lead to hefty penalties.

That said, you can always reach out to people you know–prospects, connections, and centers of influence–and ask them if they would like to be added to your list. Say something like, “Hey! I am starting a monthly newsletter where I send out )updates, articles, etc.). Thought you might like it. Want in? Do you know anyone else who might be interested?”

Even if you don’t think certain people in your network will ever be a client, they can always become a referral source or advocate for you and your business. Getting regular updates and helpful content in the form of a newsletter will build your credibility and they will be more likely to think of you when someone asks them if they know a financial advisor. 

If you have a friend or colleague in a related industry, ask them to promote your newsletter in exchange for promoting theirs. You can have them share an article you’ve written with a sign-up form in exchange for sharing their content in your newsletter. The personal introduction and endorsement can go a long way in sparking interest and trust to attract new subscribers.

In-Person Networking and Events

When networking for your business or attending events, keep email list building in mind. 

Whenever you meet someone, have a conversation, and make a connection, ask for their business card. Let them know you have a newsletter that you want to send them and ask if they would like to receive it. Alternatively, you can follow up with them after the event with a personal email and invite them to join your newsletter list in that email.  

If you are speaking, putting on a seminar or workshop, or if you have a sponsorship or table at an event, make email list building part of your strategy. Ask people to write their name and email on a sign-in list, drop their business card in a bowl, or have them sign up by text or on your website on the spot. You can offer something like a free report, the slides from your talk, or simply invite them to your newsletter. Most importantly, make sure you have permission to add them to your list.

Add Opt-in Forms to Your Website

One of the most effective ways to build your email list is online. Display prominent opt-in forms on your website, making it easy and compelling for web visitors to subscribe. Include opt-in boxes on your homepage, as well as every other page on your site– in the header, footer, or sidebar–so it can’t be missed.   

Offer a giveaway, such as a free report, worksheet, or e-book that they can download immediately in exchange for signing up for your newsletter. As you make progress with your email list building efforts, you can include additional resources, such as giveaways related to the content on particular pages or specific blog posts. 

For example, if you have a page or blog post about retirement planning, household budgeting, college savings, or wealth building, you can include an opt-in box for a free guide or worksheet that goes more in-depth on the content topic. 

Drive Traffic to Your Website Opt-Ins

Once you have the opt-in forms on your website, do what you can to drive traffic to your website and encourage people to sign up.

Do you have a social media following on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or elsewhere? Since there’s already a connection there, be sure to promote your newsletter and free opt-in offers to that audience. While you don’t want to bombard your friends with promotions for your business, there’s nothing wrong with announcing your new newsletter or sharing an occasional invitation to sign up via your personal Facebook page.

You can also drive sign-ups to your newsletter list by growing your organic traffic with search engine optimization (SEO), digital advertising, and you can include a link to sign up in your email signature. 

If you are not building an email list you are missing a golden opportunity to connect with prospective clients, build relationships, and grow your financial advisory business. 

It will always be easier to gain someone’s trust after you are in regular communication with them and you consistently show up in their inbox with helpful information. The list doesn’t need to be large to gain brand awareness and get clients, but the sooner you get started with building one, the sooner you will start to see the results you want from your email marketing.

Now that you have all of these email addresses what do you do with them? This is where an email service provider (ESP) comes in. In an upcoming post I will cover all of the things you need to know about this tool that helps you build an email list and send marketing messages effectively.

Download a free copy of the Email Marketing Checklist & Template here. 

Sometimes email marketing can seem like an overwhelming task to undertake on your own. This is exactly what we do for our clients! We help craft opt-ins to build their email lists and create captivating email marketing campaigns to engage with their audience in the most effective way possible.  Reach out to us to see how we can help!

About the Author

Crystal Lee Butler, MBA is a creative marketer and results-oriented business consultant with over a decade of experience collaborating with independent advisers. At Crystal Marketing Solutions, she delivers exceptional insights for financial professionals enabling them to create a consistent marketing presence so they can focus on the things that matter most to them.