Lesson #14 – Building an Email Subscriber List

Compiling and utilizing and email/subscriber list remains one of the best assets a creator can use to spread the word when launching a campaign.  However; an email list will not just appear out of nowhere and it is up to the creator to develop a large, engaged following.  Unfortunately though, there is no “get-rich quick” method for making this work outside of hitting the pavement and making connections. All of the promises to grow your subscriber lists exponentially will often add subscribers but they will not be engaged, will not read your emails, and will not be interested in your products. It can be hard and frustrating to get your email list subscriber numbers to a level you are happy with, so here are just a few tips I have utilized to help grow Letiman Games’ mailing list.

Start small, start comfortably

Image result for mailchimpI created an account with Mail Chimp and have found its tools extremely useful. Mail Chimp provides html to link a subscriber form into your website and they provide a link that you can give/email/post in order to encourage people to sign up for your mailing list. The first thing I did when building a mailing list was reach out to close family and friends to have them get the ball rolling. It is great to start your list out with people you know will stay engaged and interact with your company.

I posted the link to subscribe on my website, on our Facebook page and on Twitter. People who have been both interacting with you within the board game community and those following along with your company will most likely be connected with you on Facebook and twitter. Encouraging those who might be interested in what you have to say to stay up to date with your company newsletter.

Leading up to my campaigns, I post a lot of teaser images as I receive new artwork. Once people start engaging with the artwork and want to know more, the best thing you can do is to include a link to your subscriber list along with the artwork you are showing with something along the lines of “If you want to be notified when this game is going to launch, sign up for our newsletter below.” If your artwork and game are engaging, people will sign up for your list to stay in touch with release notifications.

Demo Demo Demo

Setting up at Rochester MakerFaire

Playing your game with people is one of the number one tips for having a successful campaign. Finding people who enjoy your game and cannot wait to buy it is how you are going to gain your first day backer surge when you launch. While you are demoing, you MUST get information for all of those people who enjoyed your game so that you can notify them as soon as your game is available. You can bring blank sign up forms so that everyone who demos your game can fill them in. You can also download the Mail Chimp app so that you can add people immediately from your phone while they are at the table with you demoing.

One thing I like to do while demoing is to offer an additional incentive for people who want to sign up for the newsletter. Typically I will bring a game or two that I am willing to give away and a few strips of raffle tickets. I give out one ticket to every person who demos my games and an additional ticket to anyone who signs up for the subscriber newsletter. Sometimes this ends up with people who are not really interested in your games (as they only sign up to win free stuff) but it also helps to drive more people into demoing your games as they hear about the giveaways that you are offering. The more people who play your game, the more you will find that are interested in your game, the more that you will have sign up for your newsletter ready to back you on day 1.

Put out good products under a reliable brand

Gadgeteers Survey

This should go without saying and I know this is harder for those just starting out because you have no history to build on, but putting out good products is one of the best ways to get people to want to engage with your brand. If you put out good quality games that people cannot get enough of, they will not care what you are putting out next, they will just want it sight unseen. People will trust that you will put something good out because you have a history of making good decisions when it comes to this. This is why at the end of every kickstarter campaign I run, I include a question in the survey asking the backers if they would like to be included in my mailing list. If people engaged with your campaign, they will want to stay connected with you. I also try to ensure them that I will not email too often and I will try to include early release PnPs for subscribers and some neat incentives for them to stay connected with my brand.

Really, if you always make sure to put your best foot forward an
d you have great customer service, people will trust you and want to stay connected with you. So don’t put out poor quality, crappy games. 8)

Giveaways!

As stated in the previous comment about demos, people love free stuff. Although I am less likely to use giveaways now because I find many of the people who sign up are less engaged and are just there for the free stuff, it is a great way to get people to sign up for your mailing list when you are just starting out. You can opt to run your own giveaways through your sites and social media but chances are that if you are struggling to build a mailing list, launching through your own sites and services will not help to engage your crowd any more than your grassroots efforts already have. Lucky for you, there are many people who already have board game related crowds that will run a giveaway for you. These people are extremely well connected in the community and they put out great content. You should definitely engage with these content creators for months before running your giveaway to get yourself connected into the community as well. Just to name a few, you should look into giveaways with:

  1. Everything Board Games
  2. Druid City Games: Board Game Spotlight
  3. Father Geek
  4. All Us Geeks

This should probably go without saying, but I am going to say it anyway: When you run a giveaway, whether it is with any of these creators or on your own, make sure that one of the entries requires participants to subscribe to your newsletter.

Give it time and work at it

With anything, this whole process just takes time. Engaging with the board game community for years, putting out multiple games, connecting with board gamers and content creators, and getting your face out there and recognized is an ongoing process that you should continually be working to be involved in. It’s all about the baby steps. You will not get thousands of emails over night but getting a handful here and a handful there over many weeks or even years will eventually add up to a large engaged group of subscribers.

Good luck in your efforts to build your email lists! I know it seems daunting but be patient and work hard, and you will see progress over time. Please let me know if you have any questions and be sure to reach out to me if there are any topics you would like me to cover in future posts!

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