Whether you are just starting out with list building or you’ve been struggling to grow subscribers, building up your email list may seem like an overwhelming task. In this installment of our Email Marketing series, the Bizzy team breaks down the first steps of list building: creating great content. We’ll take a look at the best strategies, tools and tips for each phase of the process.
How Do I Create Valuable Content?
When looking to build your list, the first step of the process revolves around a simple concept: give something valuable to get something valuable. Consumers are becoming more choosy about where they give out their email address, so your focus should be on providing potential customers with enough value and incentive to hit that sign up button.
This may seem simple, but coming up with ways to provide this value can be a creative challenge. You may go with something easy like product discount, or you may choose to create content to give away in exchange for email sign ups. If you choose to create content, the first thing you will need to do is market research and a brainstorm to determine what your target audience actually wants.
Step 1: Figuring Out What Is Useful to Your Audience
- Take a few minutes to really put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Try to imagine a problem they need to solve, or a skill they’d like to learn that will directly help them grow their business.
- Research the blogs and sites of leading competitors in your industry to pick out recurring themes that they are covering. These will likely be of interest to your audience.
- Consider reaching out to current customers with a personal request or survey to find subjects on which they’d like more information or educational materials.
Step 2: Choosing a Format to Deliver Your Content
Once you have an idea of the subjects that are most interesting to your readers, you should begin thinking about which content formats might be most attractive for your target audience. Some of the most popular options include:
- Infographics – Every industry has data that is valuable. Data is always more appealing when illustrated.
- Ebook Downloads – Think you don’t have the resources to write an eBook? Take a good look back at your blog content and see if you can put together a series of related posts to be re-packaged into an eBook format.
- Access to Post Series – Are you writing something new and exciting? Make it a series and offer access to the rest of the posts in exchange for a sign up.
- Email Drip Campaigns – Take some time to work up a killer list of tips that would be useful to your audience and set them to release on a schedule.
- Instructional Videos – People love to learn by watching, and there has been a surge in popularity for video learning courses lately.
- Live Webinar – A live stream event can be a fantastic way to connect with your audience and allow real time interaction that will really help you stand out.
- Cheat Sheets – Something about the phrase ‘Cheat Sheet’ tends to call to all of us. Who doesn’t love a set of short concise tips?
Step 3: Getting Organized – Wireframes and Outlines
You’ll want to have a solid plan before you get caught up in the creative details. Take some time to outline the scope of your content and work out the best way to present your information. It may be helpful during this step to use a wireframing application to sketch out your idea. This is also helpful if you plan to hand off any part of your project to a designer.
You may want to check out tools such as Gliffy, Balsamiq or the Penultimate iPad app by Evernote. Collaborating with other creators? RealTimeBoard.com makes it easy to throw ideas around with remote partners.
Step 4: Creating Truly Compelling Content
While creating your content, the most important things to keep in mind are value and quality. Ask yourself as you add information if it will be genuinely interesting and useful to your target audience.
You should also make sure your content is visually compelling and presented in a way that is easy to follow. Hiring a design to help out may be a great investment but there are plenty of tools out there for it DIY marketers on a budget. (Check out our list below!)
Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to be authentic and let your personality come through! It’s easy to get caught in the trap of sounding too “salesy” or over-using buzzwords. Check your final product for overall tone and aim to add a little levity if it sounds too dry.
Helpful Tools to Create Content
Pixlr – You can choose free or premium versions of Pixlr, which is available in your browser or as a desktop or mobile app. Functionality ranges from simple image filters to full image editing capability.
BeFunky – A browser based app that includes a photo editor and a collage creator, BeFunky is a stylish modern app with easy to use tools.
Graphic Design Apps
Canva – Canva is fully featured web-based design app that goes above and beyond. It even includes design tips and lessons along the way.
Visme – If you are looking for an app that can help with just about everything, Visme may be your best bet. From presentations to product demos and infographics, Visem has tools to help.
PiktoChart – Piktochart is feature-packed with a user friendly interface. The built-in library of templates, graphics, and text can be used to guide you to a great looking graphic – even without design experience.
Inforgr.am – If you are looking to create some beautiful charts you’ll want to take a look at Infogr.am, they offer tons of options to beautify your data.
Screen Capture & Video Editing
ScreenPresso – Free/premium for desktop. Screenpresso lets you easily capture screen shots, edit them and even record screen casts.
Jing – Jing is a free app by TechSmith that helps capture and share screen shots and video.
Slide.ly – Helps you create and share photo collages, videos and slideshows
WeVideo – Is a simple cloud based video editing app with social publishing options.
What Comes Next? Creating Compelling Calls to Action
Now that you are all set with great content you can move on to creating some great hooks. In the next installment in our Expert Email Marketing Series we’ll be teaching the tricks of the trade to build great CTAs. Find out what works and what doesn’t. Learn which tools are the most useful to create sign up opportunities.
As your list starts growing, you should also make sure you are taking care of your subscribers with fresh well timed messages. Not sure what to say in your emails? Bizzy can help!