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10 Easy Ways to Build Your Email List Before Back-to-School Sales Start

By collegemktgrp | May 28, 2019 | Brands/Advertisers

For most millennials, social media is a one-stop shop for all their needs. It’s where they get their news, talk to their friends, play games, and research and purchase products.

So you’d think while we’re immersed in the social media zeitgeist, trying to market to college students via email marketing would be a bad idea.

Think again. Even in 2019, with a potential return on investment of up to 4400%, email marketing remains the best way to attract and retain customers — even millennials.

For brands and agencies whose main demographic is college students, back-to-school is a major e-commerce event. And with the highest ROI of all digital marketing campaigns, you better have a strong email marketing campaign ready for when back-to-school shopping starts.

But even the smartest and most seductive email marketing campaigns won’t go anywhere without a big enough list.

Growing your email list is paramount to both back-to-school sales and the long-term success of your brand. And just like all your digital marketing campaigns, email marketing can’t exist in a silo. It’s got to work together with your social media and content strategy to capture emails from all different angles.

But with just a few months until the season begins, how do you know where to start?

We’ve rounded up 10 easy ways you can grow your email list today so you can more effectively market to college students for back-to-school season.

Email Marketing Strategies

1. Segment Your Email Lists by Buyer Persona

Just like the rest of us, college students are more likely to click through emails that cater to their specific interests. Creating multiple, targeted subscription types can help you increase the chance that users will subscribe to one of them, and help you better understand their interests. From here, you can send more targeted content to each specific segment of your marketing personas.

Since we as consumers are constantly changing, so are your personas. If you’re struggling to connect with a certain segment, it may be time to revisit your buyer personas and see if there’s room to realign your understanding of each persona’s specific needs, interests, and challenges.

2. Reinvigorate a Stale Email List

Do you have an older list that is lagging in engagement? Create an engaging opt-in message and send it to your old list. Encourage contacts who want to re-opt-in, and promise to remove all contacts who don’t respond.

Wait a minute…why shave off unengaged contacts if you’re trying to grow your list? Because emailing only engaged contacts could improve your deliverability rate, and increase the odds of your email getting shared with others. It doesn’t help your campaign goal or brand if you keep talking to people who are disinterested!

3. Encourage Subscribers to Share

Make sure to always include social sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” button in your emails. This will give you access to the email recipients’ friends, colleagues, and other networks to help expand your contact list.

At the bottom of your emails, include a “Subscribe” option so those who are receiving the forwarded emails can easily opt in, too.

Content Marketing Strategies

4. Create a New Lead-Generation Offer

Develop a free eBook, user guide, how-to-video, or white paper, and host it on a unique landing page. Drive traffic to the landing page by promoting the asset on your site and across your social platforms. Then, ask visitors to provide their email address to download the asset.

Social Media Strategies

5. Promote an Online Contest

Everyone loves giveaways — college students included. Use your social media accounts to host a free giveaway. Encourage applicants to click through to your website, where they can sign up for the contest using their email address.

6. Promote a Lead Gen Offer on Twitter

Create a Twitter campaign to promote an eBook or a free resource to your followers that requires an email address to redeem.

7. Promote an Offer Through Facebook That Requires an Email Address

Promote content on your Facebook Timeline that your followers can access by offering their email addresses. Be sure to add social sharing buttons to the landing pages so you encourage your leads to share your offer with others.

Through Your Website

8. Ask Website Visitors for Feedback

People enjoy offering feedback on information that pertains to them. On certain pages of your website, include a form that asks visitors what questions they might have about your business. You might also create a live chat tool that invites questions and email addresses from people who have stayed on your website for a certain amount of time.

9. Shorten Your Lead-Capturing Forms

Adding too many fields to your landing pages and lead-capturing forms can scare people away from signing up. Reduce the length of your forms to just two to three fields to encourage new signups. You can collect more information from users later down the buyer journey.

10. A/B Test Your Campaign Copy

You could do all the right things to generate leads: create specific landing pages, offer gated content, promote contests and more — but sometimes the issue lies in the design and copy of your emails

A/B testing checks different aspects of your list-building campaigns against different versions of the same content. This includes the call-to-action text, text and link colors, the time of day you’re posting to social media, and where on your website the signup form is placed. Sometimes a small change can drive hundreds more conversions.

Now that you’ve built up your email list, it’s time to optimize your ecommerce emails to effectively drive back-to-school shoppers to your site. Stay tuned for our next blog, where we’ll teach you how to do just that.


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