Ep. 013 Build an Email List in 5 Steps (Even Without a Website!)
I know that the idea of starting an email list can seem really daunting, so my goal today is to explain it in REALLY simple terms and give you an easy roadmap to capture and nurture leads for your virtual assistant business.
Step 1: Choose an email marketing service.
To keep with the simple theme today, I’m not going to overwhelm you with choices. You want a free email marketing service? Mailchimp is the way to go. You can store up to 2,000 subscribers for $0. For most virtual assistants who are just interested in capturing and nurturing client leads, this is more than enough. But if you plan to scale and grow your business in a big way, I definitely recommend Convertkit. It’s $19 a month, but has a lot more functionality.
Step 2: Create a lead magnet.
This is also known as a “freebie.” This is basically the incentive that you give to potential clients in exchange for giving you their email addresses. It is almost always downloadable content like a PDF. I’ve seen many virtual assistants encouraging people to sign up for their newsletter without a freebie or lead magnet. Sure, you might get the occasional sign-up using this method, but in order to really grow your list, you need a value-packed freebie.
To create this freebie, you need to be really clear on who your ideal client is and what they need help with. Do you specialize in social media management? How about creating a list of IG content ideas? Do you serve photographers? How about creating a guide to help photographers market their services on Pinterest?
And now’s the good time to dispel the myth that you need a ton of DIFFERENT freebies. That’s just not true. What’s actually most effective is to have one really good freebie that speaks directly to your ideal client and shows your expertise. They should see real value in whatever it is that you’re giving away. And never be afraid that you’re giving away too much information in your freebie. The more you serve people for free, the more likely they’ll be to trust you with paid services in the future. A downloadable freebie is a great way to serve people without spending lots of your valuable time, because it’s something that you can create once and give away thousands of times. So don’t rush this step. Take time to get into your ideal client’s mind and find out what they really need from you.
Once you have the perfect idea, you can use the free drag and drop design tool Canva to create a beautiful PDF. Then upload the PDF into a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive so that you can generate a link that your subscribers can use to download the freebie.
And hey! I’ve got a freebie to help with this! If you’re feeling stuck on what to create, I have a FREE Canva template for A Guide to Finding the Perfect Virtual Assistant. This is a great freebie you can send to clients who sign up for your list to help them understand exactly what a virtual assistant does and all of the steps they should take in finding the perfect one for their business. You’ll be able to customize it completely with your own colors, fonts, and images. That’s my little gift for you!
Step 3: Automate your freebie to be sent to people who sign up for your email list.
If you’re using Mailchimp, you’ll want to create a new automated welcome campaign. You’ll find customizable templates that you can use to create a pretty email to be sent to your new subscribers. Make sure to include a link so that they can download the PDF and a personal introduction. Keep this email (and all your marketing emails!) as casual as possible. Write to your subscribers as if you are talking to a friend. I also always recommend include a photo of your smiling face. Potential clients will be so much more likely to remember you if they can put a face to your name. Other good things to include in your welcome email are a link to your website, all of your social media links, and a link to book a discovery call. But there’s no need to overwhelm your potential client with information in this first email. Now that they’re on your email list, you’ll be able to nurture them over time, providing value along the way.
Step 4: Create a sign-up form!
Now that you’ve set up your welcome email, it’s time to start collecting those leads. If you have a website, you can use Mailchimp to create pop-up or embedded forms. Make sure that you have an embedded form at the very top of your website, so that it’s the very first thing that visitors to your website see! I also recommend putting a pop-up form on all of your blog posts. You can use the templates in Mailchimp to create eye catching forms that include a picture of your freebie and a description of what’s included. Make sure that you really convey the value! Get people excited about your offering!
And if you don’t have a website, you can still get your freebie out there! Most email marketing services, including Mailchimp and Convertkit, have free templates that you can use to create beautiful landing pages. These are basically simple, one page websites where you can showcase your freebie and have a sign-up form for capturing leads. So even without a website, you still have a place to send potential clients so that they can stay in touch with you.
Step 5: Get your freebie out there!
Now that you have a place where people can go to sign up to get your freebie and be added to your mailing list, what do you do? Well, start putting that link everywhere! You can add the link to your Instagram profile and say something like “Get my FREE Guide to Such and Such” below. Or if you made a great connection with someone on social media, send a quick DM to say, “I’m so glad we met, I have this great resource for you here” and include the link. And If the sign up form is on your website, make sure to mention it to people you give your business card to (or even mention it on the card itself!) Share the link in Facebook groups (when allowed and relevant! There are rules against sharing lead magnets in some Facebook groups.)
And my biggest secret? Pinterest!!!! I’m not going to dive into ALL of the strategies I use to grow my email list on Pinterest in this episode, but I will tell you the basics of how it works. For every freebie I have, I create a pin. Then I write a description on the pin that includes keywords that are popular with my ideal client. I use Tailwind to schedule the pin, I share it in my Tailwind tribes, and then other people pin it on their own boards. Before I know it, my pin has spread like wildfire and is driving constant, consistent traffic to my website. That is where the majority of my email list sign-ups come from. Also, if you are consistently writing blog posts on your website, you can add the pop-up form for your freebie to each blog, then create separate pins for each blog post. That way, every person that visits your blog posts from Pinterest will then have the immediate opportunity to sign up for your freebie and your list! It’s seriously amazing and worth looking into.
Nurture your leads! Of course, it’s not enough to just send your subscribers your freebie and be done with it. You need to keep in touch with them so that they remember you. If you’re already putting out regular content, like a blog or a podcast, it could be as simple as sending a weekly newsletter to announce your new content, but if you don’t want to commit to creating that much content, a simple nurturing sequence can do the trick.
What you’ll want to do is create a series of 5 or six emails that you set up to be sent periodically after someone signs up for your list. These emails should serve your ideal client and provide them with tons of value. For example you could send an email a week after they sign up that asks if they have any questions about the freebie. Then a month later you could send a round-up of helpful blog posts. Two months later you could ask if they’re at the stage where they need support in their business and provide a link for a free discovery call. The idea is to continue to assert yourself as an expert and keep your name fresh in their mind. You want to be there for that person who signed up for your email list when they were in the beginning stages of looking for a virtual assistant, because it could be up to 6 months before they are finally ready to make a hire. Make it a no-brainer for them by providing them consistent value over that time-span. And again, the great thing about this is that it’s completely automated! Create these emails once and then set them up in your email marketing service and you’ll be able to nurture leads with ease!
Wow, that was a lot of info we covered today!!! I hope that this episode inspires you to take the leap into email marketing for your virtual assistant business. Remember: it’s not about the size of your list, it’s about the QUALITY of your leads. Having the perfect freebie will help you attract the PERFECT client. And playing the long-game of providing consistent value over a period of time, will really help you stand out. If you have questions about this week’s episode, please feel free to hop into The Support Squad Hangout on Facebook. We’re always there to help. Until next time, boss babe.
Grow your email list with this customizable freebie!
Create your own "Guide to Finding the Perfect Virtual Assistant" with this fully customizable Canva template. Then use it as a lead magnet to attract subscribers to your email list!