I’ve mentioned before in my when is your kickstarter ready to launch post that your email list is absolutely critical to the success of your business/Kickstarter campaign/whatever you’re doing. So how can we build it?

A big list is important, but it’s only valuable if it’s also targeted sensibly. You’re better off with a few hundred people that are really interested in what you’re doing than you are with thousands of completely random people.

How big should my mailing list be?

As a rough rule of thumb, I work on the basis that you should be able to fully fund your Kickstarter/pre-order campaign by selling to 10% of your mailing list. So if you need to sell 200 widgets to fund your Kickstarter, your list should be around 2000 people strong before you launch. There are of course plenty of other factors to consider that can alter this, but 10% is the closest I think is realistic to give as a firm answer. So what can effect it?

  • Product price. I was selling items in the £150-£300 range for all of my Kickstarter launches. Products significantly different in price will see different results.
  • Quality of list. If you’ve paid for or incentivised growth of your list, you’ve probably got people that aren’t interested in what you’re doing. Those people are wasting your time and ruining your calculations. You want to get rid of them.
  • Age of list. Even if people were interested in what you are doing when they signed up, they may have lost interest if it’s been 18 months since they joined. To avoid this, make sure you’re keeping your list informed of progress as you develop your product. Don’t worry about people unsubscribing if you email them – if they are unsubscribing they weren’t people you needed anyway.
  • Perceived value. However interested someone is in your product when they sign up for your list, if you price it at an unreasonable level then they won’t buy it. Try to make sure their are no nasty shocks by keeping people informed of prices, features and delays etc in the build up to your launch.

Should I buy an email list?

Definitely not. There is no value in buying a ready-made email list – not only is it probably illegal but it will it probably get your banned from your email provider. Even if you don’t get caught the list will certainly be of poor quality, it certainly won’t have been built especially for you and your product. Size is important in email lists but only if the people on it are potential customers, otherwise you’re just wasting money paying for subscribers that are no value to you.

So how can I build my mailing list?

I’ll be writing a lot more detail over the next few months on the various methods I have found that worked, but focus on:

  • Landing pages. I’ve already written a longer article on using landing pages to build a mailing list and you should check that out. Using landing pages really focusses the visitor on the email sign-up part of your website and leads to incredibly impressive conversion rates.
  • Blogging. Blog lots, both from your company/product/service and also personally if you can. See the email sign-up forms on this page? Without being too obnoxious, I try to get visitors to my blog to sign up for my email list. Doing that means that they get to see my best content without remembering to visit and I get a way to talk to them. Keep the content relevant and they will stick around and turn in to customers.
  • Twitter/Instagram. While Tweets/Instagram photos on their own don’t tend to result in huge numbers of clicks in my experience, using these services to talk to people who are interested in products similar to yours and share content with them can result in them checking out your profile. Make sure you have a link to your landing page in your profile and they will click through to it.
  • Facebook. Find the groups that are based around whatever you do, and join. The more groups the better. Don’t spam, but slowly build up a reputation in those groups for sharing interesting content. Over time you’ll be able to start linking to posts on your own blog, which in turn will result in sign-ups.

Summary

Don’t cheat. Build your mailing list over time so it’s well targeted. Keep members informed of progress so they don’t forget about you. When 10% of your subscribers would be enough to fund your campaign, you’re probably in a good place.