Last Updated on June 8, 2020

My dear influencer, you are nearly there. If there’s one last thing I could implore you to do, it is this: build that email list!

It is one thing to have followers, but another thing entirely to have fans, and fans are likely to give you their email. Why should you care? I would argue that having a healthy email list is more important than catching a trending social network or becoming an author, in terms of continual impact. Those connections can be very valuable to you as well.

Why should you build an email list?

  1. Email will likely still be around when that next hot social network is sold for pennies on the dollar to Facegoog. The present is littered with the forgotten rocket ships of the past, and by the past I mean even a few months ago. Still doing Periscope videos? I do them as often as I update my Geocities page. Don’t just take my word on this; Michael K. Spencer goes into detail on how social networks fail using Peach as an example. Email existed before all the social networks you use, and may exist after all of them disappear.
  2. Email allows you a very direct connection to your audience, without a lot of prying eyes. Want to provide some personal touches to go with that exclusivity? This is how. If you are as authentic as Ryan Hoover is with his list, you can make that happen. Note in his very first bullet point on his email list data that being personal is exceedingly important.
  3. Poornima Vijayashanker argues in her heuristic on receiving and processing feedback the importance of credibility, closeness, and key audience when it comes to even processing that feedback (and you know how I love heuristics!). If that feedback is coming via your solicitation of your fans, that ticks off all those heuristic filters. Further, it isn’t blindsided feedback either, which is even better since you’ll be in an ideal position to process and act on it.
  4. Need to amplify a post? You can make a direct appeal to those most likely to help you out. Remember that even with proper syndication and scheduling your posts may get lost in the shuffle of everyone else’s posts, even when to an audience that loves you. Sending out recap emails and strong suggestions to read will have a profound effect on those amplification efforts. Just don’t abuse this — if you have a light touch recap of your reviews, they can be useful, but save the urgency and direct appeals to only those most important posts.

How do you build an email list?

There are a few different ways to build lists, meaning there’s not one right way to do it. Therefore, I’d like to provide some options for you, depending on what type of influencer you are.

Blogs — some of the simplest advice I’ve come across is from James Carbary, where he outlines the 6-step process he uses as a blogger to build a list. Right off the bat, he focuses on the importance of creating that quality content, which I naturally agree with. His approach is good because for the most part it is not “in your face”; it guides readers that are interested in the content or additional offers multiple opportunities to sign up. I’m especially like his note on pop-up call-to-actions (CTAs). The importance of the call-to-action when asking for that email might be one of the most important email acquisition techniques; my favorite neuromarketer Roger Dooley shares some examples from top conversion experts worth checking out (stealing) as you go about getting your existing base to convert over into your burgeoning email list.

Instagram — unless my stats at Intellifluence lie, you’re my biggest group of users at the moment. Let’s follow the steps already outlined by Sleeknote on turning Instagram followers into email subscribers. The most important consideration is to make sure your website URL is on your profile; make it specific for your user-base so they know they’re getting something special. In other words, if you have a discount code, don’t just list the code on your profile or in a post, but instead direct the audience to go to the website to get it. Once you get the users to your website, use the CTA advice for bloggers above, so you can convert them to your email list. The rest of the advice is a bit more obvious to influencers; creating stunning imagery is all part of the job description.

Facebook — according to Julia Jornsay-Silverberg, it is all about your goals. Know that you want emails more than likes, and then act on that. What’s neat about her advice on using Facebook to grow your email list is you can absolutely incorporate it into your current Facebook posting process and use the promoted post option. In this scenario, your posts that had the best email sign up rates can be co-opted as ads.

LinkedIn — a lot of the above advice applies to you, though taking a more professional angle. As a reminder to everyone: LinkedIn is NOT and SHOULD NOT be Facebook. [/rant] Chris Spurvey built his email list primary on LinkedIn which will look pretty similar to the approaches taken by bloggers. It is all about the compelling content with hooks for more compelling content and extras. Again like blogs and a concept used throughout, the use of large CTAs and lead magnets such as the exclusive content giveaway works rather well.

Twitter — see the advice for Facebook. Really, the only change here is that you’re selecting a post in Twitter’s ad interface to promote vs in Facebook’s ad interface. Otherwise, the advice is identical.

Pinterest — see Instagram. There are slight nuances, such as where you would provide a URL for email signups, but otherwise the above advice is sufficient.


Why would your audience want to join the list?

Now, there could be a variety of reasons why someone might give you an email, but it generally boils down to value and access. Think through each reason why a person might want to join your list and you’ll be able to tailor your pitch to that reason:

  1. Discounts / Special offers (value) — if this is the main reason someone wants to join your list, then you can entice and keep them simply by continuing to provide regular discounts. I would caution you to act more like AppSumo than Groupon though — be focused and remain authentic.
  2. Exclusive content (knowledge) — similar to discounts and special offers, you can tailor your CTAs to this type of offer, and then deliver on it. What’s different is discounts are somewhat simpler to create future instances of. To keep an audience that craves special content happy, you need to keep creating exclusive content — but you can also use that to your advantage by requiring a series of steps in order to get that content.
  3. Access (belonging) — the access I’m referring to is more about community than physical access. I will periodically sign up to certain comedians’ email lists; it isn’t just so I can sniff a sweater they left behind after a show, wear it, and adopt their identity while I talk to my pets, alone, in the dark. No, this access is about knowing when special “insider only” events are occurring, what might be coming next out of the community, etc. Not the creepy kind of access.

By knowing what your audience wants, you can best create an offer to ensure you can capture those email addresses and build up a more bulletproof audience as you complete your journey on becoming a top tier influencer.