This is probably the most fundamental question. From this challenge, many successful businesses started their stories. Every single one of us asked themselves that at least once.
Even the biggest brands, the most famous names started from a big fat zero contacts on their list at some point. It always seems like it is taking forever to populate your contact list. Always seems like the effort is not worth it and is too time-consuming. This is one of those tasks that pay off with time. So don't worry too much and focus on getting those first subscribers. I will show you how to do that below.
Yet, before we start. Give yourself a minute to think who you want to see on your list and why would you want them to subscribe. Do you want your existing customers to join the newsletter so you can update them on the latest news? Maybe you are looking for a specific audience that might be interested in your offer? Each group might need a slightly different approach. However, the reasons might vary, the basics of collecting email addresses stays the same. Let's divide the available options based on the communication channels you have available.
You probably have a website. If you don't, you more than probably should have one. If you don't have time or money (or both), it can be really basic. The main goal is to provide information. And this can be done without a complicated and graphically rich site. Actually, minimal design, short and simple text - might work even better. We are all in a hurry, so often less means better.
Once you have a website, you can add the web form to it. Using Elastic Email for this task can make it really easy. Once you log into the Elastic Emails Dashboard, you can configure nearly every aspect of your form. You can pick which fields need to be filled. Which are mandatory or optional. Pick the color, prepare texts and buttons. After everything is ready simply copy the HTML code and paste it on your website. Those forms have many forms (pun intended). They can be embedded into the page content, or show up as a new layer on top of it. You can also pick a sticky stripe option - great for longer pages, where the stripe will always follow the visitor.
Using WordPress? Adding a subscription form for WordPress is even easier. Simply use our plugin and add a form without the need of pasting any code at all.
However you do that, remember that it is important to explain to the potential subscriber, what can they expect from you. What kind of content will they receive and how often it will happen. Being honest about it will boost engagement and improve the quality of your contact list.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media
It's hard to run a business without being active in social media. If you have a subscription page on your website. A form embedded on one of the pages, you can simply link to it in nearly every social media channel you use. But, even if you don't have a website, let's assume that your page is still under construction for a moment. There are still ways to actively grow your audience. Facebook allows you to run a special kind of advertisement, where you can create a form and collect the email, name and other data. This data can be then downloaded as a .CSV file (or other) and uploaded to your contact list. This is especially useful, when you have some facebook audience. It is usually easier to convince them to subscribe to your newsletter if they don't have to leave facebook in order to do so.
Another option, that will work literally everywhere, where you are able to post a link is to take advantage of system generated subscription page. If you have the Elastic Email account, you can see, that there is a subscription link generated and ready for you to use. This way you can invite people and get them to subscribe straight into your contact list. Even if you don't have a website ready yet.
Face to face audience building
While this might not work for everyone and does not always apply, it is possible and sometimes really effective to physically collect email addresses from your customers or people visiting your stationary business site. Let's assume that you run a small fashion shop. You can put a glass bowl on the table, few pieces of paper and a pen together with a sign "Want to be first to know about latest new items, discounts and sales? Leave your email here". This is a bit old-fashioned, but it still works. You can add a twist to that by creating a lottery. Each week, emails in the bowl will participate in a draft and have a chance to win a free item or a voucher. You can also move it a bit into the XXI century by using a tablet for the same purpose. Surprisingly though, paper might work better. This is a very special way of growing your contact list. It is more intimate, but the quality of the audience gathered this way will also be higher. They are people that met you, have been in your shop and have a certain experience connecting it all together.
However you decide to pursue the audience building, the most important part of the lesson here is that you really need to start. Don't wait for perfect conditions, perfect opportunity. It will never happen. Simply start doing it. You cannot lose by starting early.