How To Build Your Email List With Wiehan Britz
There are so many pains and challenges around list growth. We get it and hear it every single day. That's why we're chatting with Digital & Lifecycle Marketing expert Wiehan Britz to provide some actionable tips that you can implement right after the episode.
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How To Build Your Email List With Wiehan Britz
I am pumped to be joined by a Digital and Lifecycle Marketing Consultant with years of experience in the industry, Wiehan Britz. He has worked across several verticals with a focus on B2B SaaS brands. He is a fellow lover of startups and believes that email marketing should be implemented across all touchpoints of the user journey and not as a part of your monthly newsletter communication. Amen to that one. In this episode, we are going to chat about some of the pains as it relates to list growth and provide some actionable tactics to try. Without further ado, let's jump into the episode and chat through email list growth.
Wiehan, thanks for joining me.
Thank you so much for having me. It's great to have this opportunity.
I have enjoyed seeing all of your LinkedIn content. You provide some outstanding tips. One of my favorites was how you shared your Trello board filled with resources. That was pretty great.
I feel like there is always a big need on LinkedIn to educate and make resources available. It's always a pleasure to educate people and guide them.
I'm excited for you to talk about list growth. As you can imagine, it's a topic that comes up a lot, and it tends to be a real obstacle for so many startups that I work with, and I'm sure tons out there. Why do you think list growth is tough, especially for smaller businesses?
It is an uphill battle, especially in a noisy, crowded place. If I had to highlight a couple of reasons it is so tough to grow your list, top of the list is having limited visibility and exposure to your target audience. Let's say you run a small CRM or SaaS business, and you want to compete against the top spots of the world and the Zoho, which is a very large competitive space. It's a case that you might not take a lot of those top rankings for the different high intent keywords that you want to rank for. It's hard for any small business to grab hold of that audience and visibility.
If there's a way for you to target the audiences on social channels, do that.
That's probably the biggest challenge. Other challenges also involve unlimited resources to implement and optimize your list-building strategies or tactics. If you think about a creative newsletter, opt-in pop-ups models on your website. We can all use out-of-the-box solutions but the best optimizers out there tend to do AB testing around. They tweak their messaging and the triggering of these particular models. If you've got limited resources, it becomes hard to do that. A lot of the time, it's a Founder or Cofounder that also gets his hands dirty with marketing stuff.
He doesn't spend a lot of time working on those little tactics. Other stuff also involves creativity to attract new subscribers. If you are a small business, you run around from left to right trying to man everything. It doesn't always leave you time to be super creative. That's another challenge. Another potential challenge for some small businesses could be legal challenges. For the European market, there is stuff like GDPR that could make it a little bit trickier. There is also a double opt-in if you want to maintain a quality list. You do want to implement some double opt-in method or mechanism.
If you have friction as part of your signup process, that makes it trickier to ramp up the growth of your mailing list. A lot of ESPs, Email Service Providers out there are also very strict when it comes to you importing and migrating lists into their platforms. There are also chances that you might lose a big chunk of your database as part of that process. A lot of moving parts and things to take care of. It does make it tricky but it makes it fun.
It's interesting you bring up the legal perspective. A couple of my clients in the health and wellness space are even struggling to get Facebook to approve their ads due to disclaimers and things like that being approved for proof of concept. It is getting harder and harder.
One of the GDPR compliances or rules is that people can request to remove their details from your database. If you've got a big percentage of people doing that, it also cuts down on your mailing list size. You take all this effort to build it up, and people opt-out of it. You are constantly having this back and forth pulling of a rope trying to win that battle.
It’s one of the many battles, too. We have talked about those pains, which the readers are probably like, “I'm feeling these pains.” What have you found to work well for almost any company when it comes to building a list?
I mentioned this as a growth challenge but website opt-in forms have been solid across the board, especially for B2B. Whenever you land on a website, opted a couple of seconds or scrolls, different trigger methods bring up a newsletter popup box. A lot of the eCommerce guys make it a discount or promo code. It works well because as a first-time purchaser on an eCommerce site, it's hard to ignore those, especially high qualified traffic. If I'm looking for a new suit or shirt and I'm on that website, and you provide me a 20% discount on the first purchase, I can't ignore that.
We know that it's also quite irritating. Fortunately, the statistics have shown it to be very effective. According to Salesforce, roughly 75% of marketers are using it. That's great. It's also very affordable and easy to implement. There are so many out-of-the-box options out there. The other thing that I also find decent is capturing leads, newsletter signups, and leads via social media ads, lead gen ads because you can still control the span.
This is especially true for small businesses that don't have a lot of traffic. It's sometimes very hard to spend more on these social platforms but you can at least put some money behind it and refine the target audience to take your span to great heights. We have also seen that work quite well but the caveat is that you can't put up any generic ad trying to get people to subscribe to it. It needs to be targeted, very relevant and appealing. I have also found those to be working pretty well, to be honest.
To go back to one of your points, you talked about limited resources. It's almost like a catch-22 there. You can let Facebook or the ad platforms optimize for you. What are some list growth tactics that have not worked well and why?
The elephant in the room is buying the subscription lists. We know there are some bad people out there. If you are a bad person, don’t be that person. In South Africa, we call it cellular companies. Mobile network companies that provide all these mobile devices, contracts and stuff. A lot of their databases have been sold to companies. It’s a very bad practice but that used to be a thing. The problem is that the engagement rate on those particular lists is very low, which affects your email delivery performance negatively.
It's bad for you. Your sender's reputation goes down the drain. It's tempting for a small business to go this route but no. Keep it generic and punchy. That's fine. The other thing that I also see is that there's a big debate on guided content on B2B sites. HubSpot started this inbound marketing movement where you put all your premium content behind a sign up wall, and then people submit their details and get the content. A lot of people don't want to do that anymore because we all know you are going to use my data to send me some drip emails and follow-up emails. I would rather skip that and look for other content.
I have also seen this not work. If you don't have a massively strong brand and presence and are well-known, people are not likely to hand over their details. If you are HubSpot and Spotify, fine. I will give you my details. If you soak putting your content behind gated content and it's in the base guide or everything guide to making soap or something, it’s frowned upon. Those two tactics have been phased out. Guided content is going to phase out over time.
That is so fascinating that you bring up gated content because that is every go-to for anyone I speak with or see. It's like, “Gate your content.” People don't realize that you are technically making a sales transaction with that. You are asking somebody to give over their email address, and they know what's going to happen. There's got to be other ways to bring people to your site, offer this content readily available, and then utilize things like pop-up boxes to capture them because they are already engaged. They have read your content for free.
Many of the big brands out there tend to focus on personalization when it comes down to marketing.
There's still a big place for gated content. It still works for some brands. We have seen good results come from it but the market is also getting a lot smarter.
We have chatted about the things we don't want to do. Can you share a few actionable ways that our readers can grow their email list right after the episode, even if they don't have a very big acquisition budget?
It’s the opt-in website forms but the catch here is to be smart about it. You need to get the timing. We call it the triggering. You need to get that right. Also, the messaging. A lot of the big brands out there tend to focus on personalization when it comes down to these things. For example, if I'm a returning visitor, I'm a female and looking for shoes, if your opt-in form pops up on the women's category and the shoes, then ensure that your opt-in form pop-up reflects that.
If it speaks to that particular target audience at that moment, they will most likely sign up. Don't have a generic thing pop up on the home page that’s not targeted and doesn't sell any value because that falls flat. As a practical example, I will go back to the women's shoe thing. If I'm on a shoe page and your pop-up comes up and it goes, “Buy this pair of shoes now,” it could be a dynamic form where it goes, “Buy the red heels for $99 but if you add this discount, we will bring it down to $70.” That's very relevant. It screams value as opposed to, “Get 30% off now.” I would go for that as the first because it's cheap and very easy to implement.
Secondly, I find many small businesses still tend to do social media contests or giveaways, especially if you've got a very appealing product. Let's say you've got an online course that focuses on beauty products. A lot of people would want to taste, try and win that. That also always tends to have the highest morality potential behind it. It's also quite affordable.
There are a lot of out-of-the-box options there. They tend to spread like wildfire without you having to spend too much on acquisition. It's a slippery slope because people think to spam Facebook groups, all the local channels and communities trying to ban the giveaways. If you start small in your close network, it does have the potential to spread.
Thirdly, a lot of startups do this pretty well. They tend to go on to podcasts and webinars as guests. A podcast is a booming thing. As you would know, it's at a peak. Most people are looking for guests, and if you've got a very interesting product and brand, most people have a story to tell. If you can tell your story via podcast or webinar, there's also a great opportunity for you to gain that visibility. What you can also do is, as part of that podcast session, you can try and drive people to an opt-in form. It could be, “Thanks for listening in on this podcast. For each listener, we are giving them a 5% discount.”
It could be an extended trial for B2B SaaS. “All listeners, use code days now on this page to sign up for an extended free trial.” All of a sudden, you are building a mailing list, and it doesn't cost you anything. It costs your time and expertise. It’s another solid one. There are three great actionable ways for small businesses to build an email list. Be careful. Look for the legality behind the GDPR. It should be fine.
The giveaway is a great one. I have a lot of clients that try to do that. One of the things that they have brought up a few times is, “We don't think we are getting targeted leads.” I was always wondering, maybe the giveaway we've got to make it targeted, so we know the people coming in are going to want to buy their product. Do you think it’s important that there's a correlation between the giveaways, whether it's them giving their product away or partnering with other folks to be specific, so they are getting people who genuinely want their product?
You don't want to pollute your database with unqualified traffic. We use a lot of these people, excuse the word because it might be insensitive as messengers or vehicles of the message. You are selling red shoes. I'm not a target audience but my wife would love some red shoes, and it's almost Mother's Day. What we have done in the past is we have baked in a lead scoring mechanism where we ask a qualifying question, which allows us to segment the list a little bit better. Otherwise, you end up having a big list of random types of audiences.
If you add in some a lead scoring field in these forms, that does help. It is a tricky one to master. If there is a way for you to target the audiences on social channels, do that. If you sell online paid goodies, you are not going to promote that on a finance group, for instance. You are going to promote it on a local paid charity group or an area where you know your audience hangs about.
I used to work for a trailer company, and I then tended to target a group. It was women in travel because we knew that the lady in the household makes the first decision when it comes to traveling. I knew that if I went toward these groups, I was highly likely to get better quality through these contests and giveaways. You are right. It is a sticky one.
You gave some good tips there. I love the lead scoring element. That's fantastic. It comes back to understanding who your persona is. I love the examples. I don't think you could have said them any better. We have gone through that, so we have some actionable ways to build the lists. What is a tip to balance all of the things? You mentioned the resource constraints of startups and small business owners. They've got the user acquisition, sending out emails and posting on social. What's a tip to balance all the things?
Startups are good at this. That's why I like startups, agile and small businesses as well. Do things in bulk. For instance, if you plan out a newsletter for next month, a lot of the time, people do tend to use generic content in the newsletters. If you are going to be using generic stuff, why not plan out three newsletters? You can have it for the entire quarter while you are in that mindset and doing it. I like to do things in bulk. That also comes down to repurposing content and assets. I see a lot of companies and even the company where I work at. Let's say we create video assets.
If you don't have a massively strong brand and presence, people are not likely to hand over their details.
It's quite expensive to create video content but we don't necessarily repurpose that. Why don't we break it down into ten smaller videos? Within that video, we cover a range of topics, questions and things. We could easily break it down into ten smaller videos, meaning that I can all of a sudden have each video feature in a newsletter so that could be feeding ten newsletters or other channels. That's what people need to do. They need to repurpose the content and assets.
That's not hard to do. A lot of sites out there, you can easily outsource some of these assets, and people can generate an infographic. An infographic can be repurposed in many ways. What people should constantly do is repurpose stuff. We don't do it often enough. We are all guilty. I tend to propose to smaller businesses to make your assets and stuff work for you a lot harder and smarter.
Sometimes people need to see something packaged a different way. While they might not have responded to that full video, perhaps if you break it into a subsection and they love that topic, suddenly you have gotten their interests. That's a good bit of advice for the readers, for sure.
They take a 45-minute webinar. We all get bombarded by webinars. We don't attend them. We are waiting for the recording. It's 40 minutes long, and then you only catch glimpses of it. There's a part at the 40-minute mark where you go, “I'm supposed to hear this stuff.” There are so many tips. You can pull 100 tips from a webinar. The people that are too busy to watch the 40 minutes webinar might get access to 100 tips for the next five weeks but people don't repurpose and repackage their webinars, for instance, which is a waste of your effort and opportunities. Better packaging, different methods, I like that.
Your wisdom was wonderful, Wiehan. Thank you so much. Where can our readers connect with you to enjoy more of your amazing content?
Thanks for the chat and for asking all these tough questions. They can find me on LinkedIn it's @WiehanBritz. I'm quite active on LinkedIn. You can find me there. Reach out to me. Ask questions. I'm on LinkedIn most of the time. LinkedIn is the best place.
Folks, you've got some tips for email growth. There is no better time than now to try out some of these wise words of wisdom. If you have any questions, please feel free to send them my way at Conversations@EmailGrowthSociety.com. Until next time. Happy emailing and growing that list.