This post was originally published on February 21, 2019 and updated on October 10, 2019.
Have you tapped into the beauty of having a robust email list yet? An email list is made up of a set of people who are your biggest fans. And when I say biggest fans, I mean the people who sit on the edge of their seats awaiting your latest design, blog post and other big news. They LOVE you.
In order to build a successful online business today, you need to grow your email list into a strong marketing tool. Your email list gives access to eyes at the ready and pocket books open to buy. And who doesn’t want a list of diehard people who said, yes, me, please contact me – again and again.
So, now you know that growing your email list is one of the most important things you can do to find success in your creative business. Most importantly, if possible, you need to start growing your email list on day one. (Or whatever day you read this blog post.)
But how do you grow your email list if you sell on Etsy?
If you are an Etsy seller, you’ve probably run into some road blocks trying to grow your email list. The truth is they don’t make it easy.
A traditional e-commerce website has many advantages to growing your email list. You can set up multiple sign up opportunities on your website, solicit sign ups often and offer those interested in signing up an amazing opt-in opportunity.
Due to your ability to constantly ask for sign ups, visitors are more likely to join.
Etsy not so much. With no snazzy personal website (except maybe Pattern), there isn’t an easy way to capture a customer’s attention or offer them a lead magnet. Normally an Etsy customer purchases, but then they leave your shop never to be seen again. (Okay, a few do come back, but I’m finding that rarer these days.)
Due to privacy issues in Etsy’s terms and conditions, you can’t grow your email list by directly collecting email addresses from your customer communications or orders.
This means that you can’t say, “Ooo, you bought from me, so that means that you want me to overload your inbox with lots of great stuff.” Just because a customer purchased from you doesn’t mean that they’re giving you permission to use their email address beyond the scope of their order. (See how I threw legalese in there.)
This has happened to me. I make a purchase from a shop and about a week later I’m receiving emails from them with offers. I kindly try to let them know that I didn’t want these emails and to please take me off of their list.
This behavior can also be deemed annoying. I am not very happy when shops send me offers that I didn’t ask for. They clutter my inbox and make my email organization process even more complicated.
But, I shouldn’t have been on their list in the first place. And it certainly doesn’t make me want to shop there again any time soon.
It is actually illegal (like against federal law, not just Etsy’s terms and conditions) to email customers who have purchased from you solicitations without their consent.
I know. Laws can make it difficult to grow online businesses. But they are there for your customer’s privacy protections, so it’s important to follow them.
Back to the problem at hand, though. If you can’t add Etsy customers directly to your email list and you can’t use pop-ups or other sign-up bars, it seems really tricky to grow your email list as an Etsy seller. And that is why a lot of Etsy shops give up.
But there are some legitimate ways to build your list legally on Etsy without upsetting customers. You can even automate your list so you don’t have to think so hard about getting sign ups. Here are some steps to get you started.
Please note… The easiest way to grow your email list and automate it is to have a separate website. Although you can follow these steps and just create a landing page, if possible, it’s best to establish your own independent website for your shop to use as your Internet home. You can find a detailed tutorial for starting your own website for your Etsy shop here.
Create a Great Offer
These days it seems that no one gives away their email address for free. An email address is a valuable piece of information about a person. You need to earn a potential customer’s trust in order for them to want to hand over their email address.
In order to grow your email list, you need customers to feel like it is worthwhile to sign up for your list in the first place. Create an offer that will encourage customers to sign up.
For a shop, discount codes – either percentage or dollars off – can work great.
But sometimes just a discount isn’t enough. Many customers might be just browsing and not planning on making a purchase right then. The discount code doesn’t help them immediately, so they don’t sign up.
So, you need to think about things that you can create beyond the discount code.
You could write an irresistible e-book, make a mini course, create a set of free printables or promise a free digital product to be sent. For example, if you run a digital design shop you could send an art print, party designs or printable card set to buyers as a thank you.
For my stationery shop, I offer a free printable birthday bundle and a discount code. Creating an offer that gives sign-ups both of these items has worked well. They get something for free and save a little money.
Sign Up for an Email Service
Before you can start asking for email addresses, you need to have an email service to manage them. I have seen many recommendations for ConvertKit from other bloggers recently. They are a bit more expensive than Mailchimp, but have some serious benefits.
In order to send out emails to your mailing list, federal law requires that you have a physical shop address on your emails. Most people don’t want to use their personal home address. So, many go out and rent a P.O. Box from their local post office. Another added business expense when you first start your shop. And it may not be in your budget.
To fix this conundrum, ConvertKit allows you to use their business address at the bottom of their emails. Now you are legitimate and don’t need to rent a post office box. This is a great perk to save money if you’re just starting your business.
The other reason that ConvertKit is better is that they allow you to create emails with affiliate links in them. Mailchimp does not.
You might not care much about affiliate links right now. I get it. But once you’re up and running, affiliate marketing can become a great passive income source. You can promote brands and other products that you love to a mailing list that’s listening.
If you write an email with affiliate links and send it through Mailchimp, you get banned for life. Not the best set up if affiliate marketing is in your future.
For now, though, and the past 8 years, I’ve used Mailchimp for all of our email marketing needs. The email service costs a lot less money and provides similar services. And I’m not really into affiliate marketing – yet.
You can also get a free plan for awhile if you have a small number of subscribers and just need to send out a basic newsletter.
Whichever one you choose, you need to have an email service in place to start collecting emails. Before creating your first emails or writing your newsletter, take some tutorials about how your service works. Make sure you have a basic idea what you’re doing. This will save you time later.
Get a Physical Address
As I mentioned above, in order to keep your business and email marketing legal, you need a physical business address. This can be a home, business or P.O. Box address. It just needs to be a reference for recipients on where your business lives physically in the world.
This address must appear at the bottom of all email communication that you send out. You will also need to use it as a return address for your Etsy orders.
When my stationery shop started out, I used our home address on all communication and returns for my business address. Although I wasn’t crazy about this set up for safety concerns, over all it worked fine when the business was small.
As we grew, I realized quickly that we needed a local P.O. Box to handle our mail communications. I didn’t want the postman dealing with returns to a private residence. And I wanted to keep our home address private.
You might consider privacy to be your number one concern from the beginning and sign up for a post office box immediately. If you have an Etsy shop that has the potential for returned items, this is definitely a must have.
But if your Etsy shop model only sells digital goods, you could use the P.O. Box option provided by ConvertKit that I mentioned above.
If you decide to rent a P.O. Box, I recommend going to your local office supply shop such as UPS. Although the post office offers P.O. Boxes, the application process is long and a bit more complicated.
UPS will give you the box and key on the same day. They also call you when a package comes in that is too big for your box, so you don’t have to spend more money on a bigger sized box.
If you participate in a co-working space, check with them to see if you can use their address. Our co-working space provides a P.O. Box address for free if you have a certain membership level.
Create a Separate Landing Page
The biggest issue with running an Etsy shop is that you don’t have a separate website. In order for customers to sign up for your email list, you’ll need a separate landing page for them to go to.
You can create a landing page by adding a new page to your blog or main shop website. There are lots of places to find a landing page template.
One of my favorites is this landing page set by Blu Chic. It gives you lots of different templates to choose from and ways to set up your opt-in series.
You can also purchase a landing page template from Etsy or Creative Market. Or have a custom one designed for you on Fivrr.
No matter which direction you choose, your landing page design needs to tell customers what the offer is and the other perks they will receive. The page also needs to look pretty. Add some graphics to the header and use colors that match your brand.
You can check out the landing page for our shop here. This was built using a landing page template from Blu Chic and customizing the color and photo.
In order to attach the sign up box to your mailing list, you will need to add html code provided by your email list service. If this sounds too complicated for your html knowledge, you can also hire a designer using Fiverr or Upwork. They will be able to lay out a basic page for you and import the sign up code from your email service.
You can also set up a landing page through an Etsy Pattern site. This is like a more traditional website and the email sign up box links to your MailChimp account.
There are many pros and cons to using the Etsy Pattern shop builder and many things have been improved on the interface during the last year to make it even better. It’s definitely something to check out.
Recently, I also discovered that you can create an independent landing page associated with your MailChimp account (I do not know if other email services offer this option). This way you don’t have to set up an entire website to grow your email list. You can find out more information to set up your own landing page using Mailchimp here. The good news is that it looks pretty easy.
Educate Yourself on GDPR
Oh, GDPR. Did you hear about when the European Union put that in affect last summer? The entire online world was in an uproar.
The truth is that GDPR by itself isn’t that hard to follow especially if you have an Etsy shop. Etsy did a great job last year providing the correctly worded documents that you needed to put in your shop to be compliant.
There are some important changes, though, regarding how you collect information for your mailing list.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. The information provided here is not legal advice. It’s just based on the things that I’ve learned when researching how to set up my email list to be GDPR compliant. You can learn more about GDPR and how it affects your online shop/website here.
First, you need to make sure that you have a double opt in selected for new sign ups. This will probably result in fewer sign ups, since I’ve found that the second email sent to confirm sign up is usually buried in spam. But the key is protecting yourself, not worrying about if the email was received.
The benefit of using a double opt in system is that it makes the people signing up for your newsletter really think about their decision to join your mailing list. They can also choose what information they feel comfortable in sharing. And if they ever came and disputed it with you, you have evidence that they clicked all the right boxes and officially joined – twice.
If you also decide to do a pop-up on your website for a newsletter sign-up, make sure you choose the GDPR options. These include check boxes that the person signing up clicks saying that they agree to the communication.
There’s definitely more that you need to know about newsletter sign ups and GDPR, so I recommend doing your own research.
Also keep in mind that, as of now, these regulations only apply to European Union customers. But, I keep hearing that it won’t be long until the United States applies them too. And they are good practice. It’s better to have a compliant mailing list from the beginning to prevent having to start over when the changes come.
How to Add Sign Up Options to your Etsy Shop
One of the key words for this blog post is “autopilot”. By autopilot, I mean that you can set up a strategy to grow your email list and go back to work on everything else you need to do.
Once you have the fundamentals set up for your email list, it’s time to ask customers to sign up. When you have an Etsy shop, there are lots of different ways that you can do this. Legally. Here are some of my favorite ways to add sign up options to your Etsy shop.
Remember, that someone needs to see an offer multiple times before they will take advantage of it. Signing up for your email list is no different. Having your sign up offer in multiple locations will ensure that it’s viewed often and increase chances that your Etsy visitors will want to join your list.
Creating a Graphic for your Etsy Shop
So, there’s a myth in the world of managing an Etsy shop. Customers read your listing description. False.
Every day, I receive emails from customers with issues that could have been resolved if they just took the time to read the description.
Unfortunately in this graphic heavy world, customers are taking less and less time to read the item information provided. Many of us will include a mailing list sign up link in the Etsy product description, which is quite smart. But I’ve found that if it’s buried in the bottom of the description and you don’t tell visitors, chances are that they won’t notice at all.
To solve this, add an image announcing your mailing list sign-up to your listing. Have an arrow pointing downwards to where the sign-up link is in the bottom of the product description. Because the notification is in your photos, customers are unable to click this photo.
But, like most things, there is a work around. In your listing description, include a short announcement and link (shortened bitly link preferred) directing customers to your mailing list landing page. If you don’t, no one will ever be able to sign up!
Put a Link in your Announcements Page
In addition to having an image in the product photos, I also have one at the top of the Etsy Announcements page. This location works because customers pay attention to the Announcements and check there for important details before they order.
You can add the link in the beginning or the end. Tell your potential customers what they will receive if they sign up and include a direct link to your landing page. (Can they click on it directly or do they need to cut and paste?)
Add a Link to your Policies Page
I’ve found customers are always looking for a coupon. Unless we have a shop sale going on, we don’t issue a lot of additional savings options during the year.
This strategy to grow your email list is to encourage those looking for a discount to sign up for our mailing list. The one place most people go to look for a coupon is our Policies page. So, I’ve added a question at the bottom that says: Looking for a coupon?
A lot of customers love to save money. They will scan your policies page in hopes to find a secret sale going on. Your discount link gives them a way to always save money even if you aren’t having a sale.
Encourage social media sign up
Your Etsy shop isn’t the only place to encourage customers to sign up for your email list. You can also use your social media accounts.
Each month include a couple posts (I usually do this every two weeks) that announce your lead magnet (that freebie opt-in I discussed earlier). And showcase some of the exclusive things you’re sharing in your newsletter.
If your current customers decide to follow you on social media, you’ll be able to promote your newsletter as well as all your other work automatically. You can encourage customers to sign up to your social media accounts through your Etsy shop.
Etsy includes links to your social media at the very bottom of your home page in the Around the Web section. Yeah, I am lost by how to find those too.
In order to increase social media follows, consider adding a “Let’s Get Social” section to the bottom of each listing.
Another great place to put your social media handles is in your header image. The links can’t be directly clicked on, but people do copy your social media handles so they can follow you.
You could also include direct links in your Announcements page and the final “Your Item’s been Shipped” email. Let customers know to follow you on social media to stay up to date about your shop.
I am not sure how often this email is read, but it’s worth a try. The more often your customers see your social media links, the better chance they have to click on them.
Also, don’t forget to include a link to your landing page in your social media about pages. This way your social media followers will be reminded about your opt-in offer when they come to check out your About page.
Use your Mailing List
Now that you have strategy to get customers to sign up for your mailing list, you need to use your mailing list to reap the rewards. Please.
I have not always been very effective with using my shop’s mailing list. It has sat there and gathered dust for months. Then, one day I noticed that somebody signed up and received $4 or $5 off their order. Great savings for them. A high cost to me to capture that email if I’m not going to use it.
If you are going to invest the resources to grow your email list, be sure that you use it. Often.
It doesn’t really matter what content you send in the beginning. You can set up an RSS feed to your new blog posts or try different kinds of newsletter templates to see which ones your subscribers like best. You can monitor this by the number of opens and click throughs you emails receive.
Create a newsletter, send out exclusive coupon codes, share behind the scenes photos or showcase recent blog posts.
Whatever form of email marketing you choose, do something. Stay in contact with your fans consistently.
Remember, you’re so blessed. You have a set of people interested in your work. They’ve shouted “pick me, pick me!”. If you sit back now and do nothing, success will be harder to find later.
You need the fans on your email list. They will remain loyal to your shop and keep coming back if you don’t abandon them.
The reality is that my time for marketing my shop is very limited each week. Keeping my marketing efforts as simple as possible is really important.
It’s also easier (and cheaper) to maintain a current customer than gain a new one. The people who sign up for your email list might be incentivized to save a few dollars at first, but they also really like you. And your work. Use this support to your advantage.
If you’re going to choose any marketing activity to do each week, spending the time to grow your email list should be it. This is where your business’ future sales are.
Keep in mind that social media algorithms can change on a whim. Your email list doesn’t. You control your list. It’s the opportunity to remind customers of who you are and that you’re there for them.
Your email list also gives you the opportunity to continue building that all important shop-customer relationship. The closer that relationship is, the more a customer will want to come back to buy again. And again. And again.