Whether you run an integrative or functional medicine practice, or market other services or products related to the field, building an email subscriber list is critical to the health of your organization.
The Gold is in The List
Growing your ‘list’ grows your integrative health business because no digital marketing strategy provides a higher return on investment than email marketing. It is the most direct and effective method to actively engage consumers and drive new revenues.
Success requires a comprehensive strategy featuring a range of digital and non-digital communication and business development tactics, of which email marketing is paramount.
Feed and Nurture the List
At the epicenter of your marketing strategy should be the consistent delivery of relevant, actionable, editorial-based content… delivered via email to a dynamic list of subscribers who have granted you permission to contact them.
The content must be high-quality to match your brand excellence. Done right, this engenders trust with readers and, over time, these positive interactions lead to new customers.
Ownership Versus Renting
The ‘likes’ on your Facebook business page differ from your email communications because the latter are, at the very least, delivered to all those on your list, and then go on to serve a further purpose. Clearly, the delivery rate will only be as effective as your list is clean, and the open and click rate commensurate with your amazing content.
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Social media outposts are ‘rented’. The rules are changed at the owner’s whim in terms of how many of your followers will actually see your organic messages. Of course, the ultimate goal of those controlling these social channels is to get you to boost posts and purchase ads.
The magic of capturing email addresses and building your list is ownership.
Just like your primary platform—your website—you own your list. You have earned the right to appear in the inbox of someone who has granted you permission to keep in touch.
That is not to say you own these names permanently, because as soon as you stop delivering value—via actionable solutions to specific problems—or begin to send too many promotional emails that only ‘sell’, folks will opt out in droves.
Success is achieved by being consistently helpful. You must build your list—while simultaneously retaining existing subscribers—so that you can convert them to vocal brand ambassadors (driving word-of-mouth), and buyers of your quality products and/or services.
Here are 31 proven ways to make that list grow:
1. Create amazing content.
People will stick around, consume, and share your work IF your content—text, images, audio/video—is stellar. Over-deliver and make it engaging.
2. Create exclusive content in exchange for email addresses.
Provide a ‘gift’ (AKA lead magnet), such as an e-book or ‘how-to’ guide, then offer it in exchange for an email address.
3. Prominently place a signup form on your homepage.
Consider highlighting an image and text promoting your ‘gift’, along with a subscription form. Important: only ask for name and email—asking for too much, too fast, kills conversion rates. You’ll get more information once they’re loyal subscribers.
4. Develop a popup subscriber form.
While they can be annoying, they’re incredibly effective when properly done. Less irritating are the popup forms which display when a visitor is ready to exit a site. This is called an exit modal form. This is what FON uses and recommends to client.
Use the pop-up form to feature your ‘gift’ (image, text) or to highlight the benefits of subscribing. For example, ‘If you enjoyed this article, make sure you don’t miss the next. Subscribe.’ In general, communicate quality and value.
5. Add a slide-in subscription form.
These are the forms that slide in across a website, and are typically smaller than regular popups or exit modal forms; friendlier interjections. : )
6. Send a one-time email to your larger group of customers/patients asking them to join your list.
You may not have an opt-in subscriber list, or, if you are just getting started, have a small list. You may have a database of clients or customers that contains emails; the problem here is these folks have not provided explicit permission to be contacted by email.
In this case, load these names into a separate database of your email marketing system (such as MailChimp or Constant Contact), and craft a short email explaining the value of the content program you are developing, then ask your contacts to opt-in as a bona fide subscriber to receive your forthcoming valuable content, and occasional subscriber-only special discounts. Or, set it up as an opt-out—ask them to opt-out of your list if they do not want to hear from you in the future.
This is a delicate dance as you did not formally capture these names as subscribers. Nonetheless, this list does represent either current or previous customers. While you do risk alienating some, and possibly receiving a complaint or two, you will most likely retain more folks via an opt-out process than asking for an opt-in. If you can segregate these names into only active customers, do that.
7. Paper signup sheet (sometimes old school’s best.)
Pass around the ol’ clipboard, complete with legal pad and pen, to collect email addresses while speaking at events.
8. Add a signup form to your Facebook page, and include a call-to-action (CTA) ‘ask’ on your Facebook cover photo.
9. Include a CTA form at the end of each blog post on you website.
10. Consider including a form on your sidebar (if applicable).
Try a textual CTA, “If you enjoyed this post, don’t miss the next—subscribe today.” And/or add a simple graphic [SUBSCRIBE] button.
11. Ask for email signups during webinar registration processes.
12. Cross-promote or provide guest posts to brand-aligned partners.
Consider exchanging or syndicating existing content among organizations with which you share similar philosophies. Likewise, pursue guest posts opportunities for yourself.
Everyone appreciates brilliant content. Getting yours in front of new readers within your greater community is a terrific way to increase your clinic or business visibility. Make sure to mention your awesome newsletter or free gift, AND make sure to link to the form.
13. Tweet about your email newsletter and ask folks to join.
While at it, tastefully and frequently inform followers across all your social networks about your useful newsletter.
14. Include linked CTAs to your gift in the description of your YouTube videos.
15. Ask folks to subscribe within your contributed articles, posts, or commentary.
When contributing content to external outlets such as websites, magazines, radio, or television, ask people to visit your website to receive their ‘gift’ (and, by default, join your mailing list) at the conclusion of each article or segment. If the media outlet does not allow this type low-key pitch, then include this ask in your author bio or other designated area(s).
16. Commenting on external blogs and media outlets.
It’s another valuable opportunity for sharing your opinions and linking back to your website. Ensure there’s a visible CTA in place on your site for converting new subscribers.
17. Include a subscription CTA across your e-commerce pages if your website features items for sale.
18. If you feature online surveys, include a subscription CTA.
19. Include a subscription CTA in your newsletter.
Since newsletters are often forwarded, this provides a good opportunity to convert new subscribers from powerful word-of-mouth activity.
20. Add social share buttons on your newsletter to facilitate sharing (and drive new subscribers). Also include Click to Tweet links highlighting powerful messages, making it super easy to share.
21. Add a link to your subscription form from your email auto-signature.
Think about how many emails you send daily. If you get everyone on your team to do the same, those total impressions will grow exponentially.
22. Use an iPad, or tablet to collect names in-store, in-clinic, at conferences, tradeshows, and Meetups.
Many email marketing vendor partners provide free apps. Or skip it and simply ask folks if you can sign them up manually (they can still confirm the subscription later).
23. Ask customers to sign up for your list via all applicable printed matter and packaging.
Print ads, brochures, packaging labels, and even cash register receipts can include a CTA. Use a bit.ly or other URL shortening tool, or even a quick response (QR) code (scan-able codes) to make it easier to access your form.
24. Add a short CTA and QR code or shortened URL to your business cards.
25. Include a pre-checked (opt-in) subscription box on contests and sweepstakes.
26. Create an in-house competition by offering employees a bonus or gift certificate for signing up the most new subscribers.
27. Use AdWords and other paid advertising.
Often it makes sense to direct paid digital advertising to useful content, not direct sales pitches. Once a prospect gets to your landing page (the page linked to your ad) featuring solid content, preferably your ‘gift’, you are on your way to capturing that coveted email address.
28. Train front-line engagers to capture information.
Your customer service reps, or any staff who engage with clients, patients, and prospects should ask for email addresses. Provide a clear and pithy script for those staff to be able to explain the value of your organization’s awesome, information-rich newsletters, and your special email-only offers.
29. Include a subscriber testimonial alongside your opt-in form.
30. Offer customers a discount on their next purchase with email signup.
31. Include an anti-spam policy on your subscription forms.
Ensure your existing clients, and future ones, are assured that their privacy is completely guaranteed in a ‘we dislike spam as much as you’ type of message insert.
32. Directly ask subscribers to forward your newsletter to their colleagues and friends.
Following these approaches to grow your list exponentially will ensure you convert readers into customers and patients. They’re easy to schedule on your calendar—or assign to staff—and just as simple to put in place.
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- While the payoff can be huge, growing a subscriber is hard work and takes time. Be consistent in your efforts.
- There is no single best tactic to building a list, but it most often connects to the provision of high-quality content. Test, refine, test.
- Social media is an absolutely important channel, but unlike an email list or website, you don’t own or control the social networks you use, unless, perhaps, your name is Zuckerberg.
[This post was originally published in April 2015 It has been updated and expanded to reflect new technology, and to include additional marketing tips.]
FON is a leading integrative health and medicine business development and strategy consulting firm. FON specializes in custom solutions for growing patient volume, developing programs, and increasing product sales. Our practical business models are driven by innovative marketing, clear messaging, and customer engagement via branded storytelling.
Contact us today to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation to discuss your business development or personal brand needs.