For loads of well-documented reasons, your mailing list is where it’s at. Well-documented, at least, if you love to nerd out about this stuff as much as we do, and you consume endless reams of it every day through every medium! Remind us to give you a list of some stuff we’re reading and listening to.

But anyway!

Mailing lists are brilliant because of their conversion rate.

Your tweets are dropped into a sea of conversation, your Facebook posts are subject to their ever-changing audience algorithms, but your emails arrive straight into the inbox of a person who has already declared that they want to hear more from you. Their inbox is their home online – the first thing they check when they open their laptop. And they invited you in! They are far more likely to make you a cup of tea, now you’re over the threshold. If by making a cup of tea, you mean clicking on something you’ve asked them to click on in the text of your email.

And you’re doing all the right things – you have sign-up links here, there, and everywhere on your site. You tell people on social media that they should really sign up for your mailing list. But your numbers stay pretty static all the same. You’ve caught everyone who already follows you online. What to do?

Well, here is one thing you can do. Take it offline!

We spend so much time with our heads in the keyboards, that we forget that huge numbers of people aren’t really online. I know you’re thinking of your Dad. He’s probably on Facebook. Sometimes. Or once a year he books airport car parking. The rest of the time, he is going to things in person. So if you have a service, or a product, or an event where you meet your customer in actual real life*, don’t waste that opportunity. Give them a nicely-branded sheet of paper and a biro, and ask them for their email. Go home later, and manually add them in your mailing list manager. It’s tedious but worth it. These people were so into you, they attended your thing! They’ll do more than make you a cup of tea, they’re going to throw in a biscuit too! If by biscuit, you mean clicking on the thing you asked them to in your email, and then following through and buying it.

We’ve seen brilliant success using this method in organisations we’ve worked with on online presence campaigns, and can recommend it unreservedly as a tool you should think of adopting.

*Examples of places you might make these real-life connections before you brandish your clipboard: a shop that stocks your product, a market where you have a stall, a speaking event you’ve organised, a day trip or tour you’ve organised, a class you are teaching, a conference you are speaking at. If you leave your wares in places without you, such as in an exhibition centre, leave the clipboard on the stand.

Step-by-Step Instructions for a Simple and Fast Sign-Up Sheet

1. Using Apple Pages if you are on a MacBook, drag your logo to the top, and centre it.

2. Reduce it in size by dragging the corners until it is around 4cm high. Any taller and it will reduce the amount of emails you can accommodate.

3. Underneath this, in centred text, add a few lines. Something like ‘Would you like to sign up for updates from us?’ or ‘We send out a monthly newsletter; would you like to subscribe?’. Add ‘Please enter your name and email address below’ as there is no harm being extremely explicit when talking to offline people about online stuff. A ‘Thank you’ here is also nice.

4. Add your sign-up fields by clicking the yellow button labelled ‘Table’ up top.

5. Choose the second option that has the first row shaded. It will give you four columns; select the first and delete it, so that you have three left.

6. Use the top row to label the columns ‘First Name’, ‘Last Name’, and ‘Email Address’.

7. Click into the last cell, and using the tab button on your keyboard (above the caps lock on a Mac), click click click until you have the amount of fields that will fit into your page. You should have between 20 to 22 rows.

8. Print more than one copy! Push neatly under clipboard clip. Don’t forget to bring it with you the next time you know you’ll see People.


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