How to Build an eMail List for Your Service Business


As I started focusing on growing the business, I quickly found out about the amazing value that is  your eMail list.  That’s because the people on your list are your tribe, they’ve said it’s OK to continue to stay in touch with me, provide me value and occasionally make an offer.  As Sunny Lennarduzzi says, “your tribe is your trust fund”.

Sure, you may have thousands of followers on one or the other social media platforms, but you don’t own those names – the platform does.  And with one swipe of a keystroke, or algorithm change, those followers could go up in smoke.  Besides, even under the best of circumstances, these platforms are trying to build revenue, so the pay to play option is becoming even more relevant.  Your reach with your audience probably isn’t what it used to be, and it’s probably considerably less than you would like it to be.

An eMail list puts the marketing power squarely back in your hands – where it belongs.

So, nuff said – build your eMail list.

But how?  Well, there are tons of ways to entice people to join your list – so since we don’t have unlimited time, I’ll just list a few.  I’ve grouped them into categories.

First up is your website.  Most people forget to use this incredibly valuable real estate as anything other than a brochure for their services.  But think about it, whenever anyone is considering your business to help them out, the first thing they probably do is look at your website.  If you have killer SEO, your website can even pull in visitors who never heard of you before doing a search.  And, if the majority of your business comes from referrals, which is very common for service based businesses; the first thing someone will do when you’re offered as a referral is…you guessed it – they are heading immediately to your website.  So, don’t waste the opportunity that your website is handing you on a platter.

Do an opt in on the first page.  And try to steer clear of ‘please join my newsletter’.  The opt in should be something of value, something a visitor to your site would find helpful and maybe even surprising.  You might even consider a ‘before you go’ pop up that appears when the site detects their mouse heading for the close button.

By the way, a quick note of caution here – don’t go crazy with the overlays, banners and pop ups.  They can easily cross over into the ‘I’m just trying to get information here and all these interruptions are driving me crazy’ zone.  Whenever you put anything on your site, go back and take a look at it all from a new user viewpoint.  Is it valuable or annoying.  If it’s #1 keep it, if it’s #2 toss it.

Now having said that – the other website tools you could think about are slide-in banners, or putting well placed calls to action on different pages of the site – it doesn’t have to only be on the home page.  Try a call to action on the About Us page and the Contact page.  And no matter what, your blog (and yes, you definitely should have a blog) should have a call to action.  It can be on the side, or in the middle, but the blog definitely needs one, because often it is the most visited area of your site.  And, make sure the call to

As Sunny Lennarduzzi says, ‘your tribe is your trust fund.’

You know, I just realized I keep using the phrase call to action, and some of you may not be clear on what that is.  A call to action, or CTA, is when you ask the audience member to do something – in other words, you’re calling on them to take action.  It’s usually a form they have to complete, giving their name and eMail address, and sometimes other information, in order to get a piece of content – otherwise known as a lead magnet.  CTAs and lead magnets are really the worker bees of your marketing strategy.  They showcase your expertise, and gently persuade your audience to engage with you more regularly via your eMails.

If you want more in depth information on CTAs and Lead Magnets, drop a note in the comments and I’ll do a deeper dive on those in another episode.

And speaking of CTAs, they’re not just for your web pages.  You should have calls to action for every piece of content you do.  They don’t have to all be, nor should they be, calls to buy something.  But you should offer additional content in exchange for the users information.  Why not create a resource library of some content pieces, tools you like, checklists and workflows. You could offer a free trial period of your services, or have a survey or create a challenge.

So, if you do a YouTube video, use a call to action.  In your social media bios, include a call to action.  When you post on Facebook or LInkedin or other platforms, use a call to action.  It may not always be a call to grab an additional piece of content, it might be an invitation to become an insider with access to content that’s only available for insiders.

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But it doesn’t stop there, you should have calls to action for anytime you are in front of a new audience.  Try repurposing your long form content for Medium and including a call to action.  Leverage other people’s audiences (also known as OPA), when you appear on a podcast, or do some guest blogging, or any type of speaking (in person or virtual), you absolutely should have a call to action – that’s how the new audience can become part of your world.

You can include a call to action in your eMail signature – just make sure it’s something graceful and professional.  And remember to be a bit picky about when you use it – it won’t be right for every eMail you send.

And one other thing people often forget when building their eMail list – current and former clients, and employees.  Ask your employees to recommend people for the eMail list – then send those people a nice, ‘you have been chosen’ introductory eMail.  And be sure it clearly asks them to opt in – you might even offer a lead magnet as an incentive.  It’s bad form, and in the EU it’s illegal, to just add people to your list without their permission.  So, if you go the “you’ve been chosen” route, be sure to send the introductory eMail, and get an opt in, before you start sending them marketing eMails.

You don’t have to jump through those hoops for current and former clients – because you already have an established business relationship.  But for every eMail, remember it is critical that your contact information is clearly stated, and there’s an easy way for them to unsubscribe.

Which brings me to one of the most important things when building your eMail list – choose a solid, professional eMail provider.  It can mean all the difference between your eMails being delivered or being resigned to the junk/spam bin.  Having a good eMail provider, staying on top of keeping your list clean, and being scrupulous about respecting un-subscribes, that will keep your account in good standing.

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