Probably the single most important thing you can do as a marketer is to focus on building your email list. Whether it’s for your own personal brand, your company, or your organization, there are tons of benefits to increasing the number of email subscribers you have.
But don’t take my word for it. If you’re not yet convinced, here are some thoughts on the topic from notable marketing experts:
If you’re not building an email list, you’re making a HUGE mistake. – Derek Halpern
Out of all of the channels I tested as a marketer, email continually outperforms most of them. – Neil Patel
One of the biggest mistakes I made as a blogger and business owner was not starting an email list right from the start. – Pat Flynn
1. Start with amazing content
If you’re trying to build a list, but you don’t have anything of value to offer to your audience, stop wasting your time.
Everything begins with great content. You need to pull people in before you can expect anyone to give up their email address.
That means you need to turn out exciting, valuable, and relevant content on a regular basis. But it doesn’t always have to be written in the form of blog posts.
You can create videos, images, white papers, or whatever else floats your boat. Just make sure your particular target audience actually likes it.
Once you’ve got that down, then it’s time to move on to the other tips below.
2. Don’t fear the popover
I’m not going to lie. I wasn’t always a fan of popover ads on sites. I used to see them all the time, and usually they were pretty annoying. But in the past few years, things have changed.
Popovers have gotten smarter. Now, most sites use popover plugins that utilize some form of “exit intent” technology. What this means is that you’ll only see the popover once the plugin realizes you’re about to leave the page. I’ll save you the technical mumbo jumbo, but just know that this has created a less intrusive popover experience for visitors.
Furthermore, once a visitor completes or closes a popover box, they won’t see it again for some time, based on the duration of the cookie on their machine. On Earnworthy for instance, that duration is currently set to 30 days. So if you’ve closed a popover box today, you won’t see it again for a month. Not so bad, right?
Therefore, the modern popover is not to be hated. In fact, if popovers didn’t work so well, marketers wouldn’t keep using them. But oh, do they work well.
On average, popovers will convert at a significantly higher rate than other static opt-in forms in sidebars or in the footer of a blog post, for most blogs. Why? Because they get our attention. For more on the topic of attention, check out this article.
On Earnworthy, I use a plugin called OptinMonster to handle almost all of the lead capture on this site, including popovers. I highly recommend you check them out if you’re looking for a complete solution.
3. Create compelling content upgrades
What is a content upgrade? The folks from LeadPages explain it best:
A content upgrade is simply a lead magnet (also known as an “opt-in bribe”) that is created specifically to be given away as a free download on an individual blog post in exchange for a visitor’s email address.
In other words, you’ll need to create separate, exclusive content for a specific article on your site, and then you give it away from free, in return for an email opt-in.
The brilliant part of using the content upgrade method is that they are meant to be highly relevant to each specific blog post. And of course, relevancy increases the likelihood that someone will be interested in subscribing.
4. Go crazy with guest posts
Guest posting is still very much alive and well, regardless of what any SEO “guru” might tell you. It is still a fantastic way to expose your brand to a fresh audience, and that’s where the magic happens.
You see, in order to get tons of new subscribers for your list, you need to keep fishing in different lakes. You own website is just one such lake. It will only get you so far until it has been fished out.
Therefore, why not seek out some related “lakes” or other bloggers in your niche who welcome guest posts? You’ll be doing them a favor by providing them with relevant, high-quality content, and in return, they’ll be doing you a favor by providing you with the attention your brand needs.
If you’re really brave, try to convince these bloggers to allow you to offer an exclusive content upgrade within your guest post, but have the opt-ins get added directly to your list. Not every blogger will allow this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, right?
5. Launch an engaging sweepstakes
Sweepstakes seem to keep going in and out of fashion with marketers every few years. This year, they’re back in style.
Setting up a simple sweepstakes contest where you give something away in return for email opt-ins is easy to launch. The hard part is in promoting it. But clever marketers have even figured out efficient ways to do just that.
Tools such as Gleam and KingSumo Giveaways allow contestants to earn multiple entries by sharing your contest through their social channels. This obviously gives your content more exposure, while giving them a better chance of winning.
It’s literally a win-win situation! Okay, no more puns from me, I promise.
6. Don’t forget about offline connections
Last but not least, I have to mention offline opportunities for list building, because I think this is the easiest tactic to overlook.
Regardless of what you’re doing, selling, or promoting, you’re meeting people in the “real world” all the time. But are you using these opportunities to grow your email list?
For instance, if you go to a networking event and you leave with a stack of business cards, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to each new contact with a short personalized message and ask them if they would be interested in getting occasional email updates from you.
Warning: Whatever you do, make sure you ask for permission. Far too often I get added to email lists that I never formally signed up for, simply because someone grabbed my business card and added me. That’s not cool. In fact, it’s not even ethical.
Make sure you’re only adding people to your email list who have given you explicit permission. And obviously, allow them the opportunity to opt-out at any time.
As long as you’re following those rules, there is nothing wrong with engaging with your real-world connections in order to build your list.
Another quick offline tip is to use the old clipboard method. If you have a retail shop, keep a clipboard with an email opt-in sheet near the front. Or if you’re doing a presentation, pass the clipboard around the room and let people subscribe if they choose. Just make sure you’re giving them a compelling reason to do so.
What’s your list building goal?
That’s it. You now have six ways to grow your email list. Whether you use some of them, all of them, or none of them is up to you.
But please, do me one favor. Make sure you’re setting goals for your email list. How many subscribers do you want to have within the next 90 days? How many by the end of the year?
If you don’t set goals and know how to measure your results, you’ll never know what’s working. It sounds simple, but it really matters.
So, tell me how many email subscribers you want to have by January 1st, 2016. I’d love to follow you along your journey as you knock that goal out of the park.