I know I talk about list building a lot on this blog, but I think it’s extremely important and not enough online entrepreneurs take it seriously enough. I wanted to provide a real hands-on and practical approach to you getting your first 1000 subscribers (it’s a good goal to shoot for) no matter what niche or vertical you are in.
So, why should you care? Why should you focus on building your email list above most other business things?
The first part of it, is that you’re going to lose a lot less of your traffic. List building is visitor retention.
Most people that visit your website will never come back again. When you build your list, you’re retaining some of that traffic that you might have lost.
This goes into my next point, which is list building allows for you to build a relationship with your readers. After you retain them, you can start to build a relationship with them by providing them a lot of value. People buy from people they trust. Showing people you care and helping them through your email list, makes it easier to sell your product or service later.
Which comes to my last point, an email list allows you to promote in a snap. You can cut through all the noise on social media by simply sending an email. There’s still a lot of power in sending an email despite what gurus and other marketers say, and email open rates being as low as they are today.
Choose An Autoresponder
You’re going to need to choose an autoresponder/email marketing service. If you don’t have one already, here’s what I recommend:
MailChimp is good if you don’t see the immediate value of building your list or you can’t afford to pay for one. MailChimp is free up to 2000 subscribers, with some limitations. I recommend MailChimp to most people that are completely new to email marketing and need to try it before committing their money to it. However, you need to understand that MailChimp doesn’t allow its’ automation features to free users. You will need the automation feature for my strategies to work.
I use GetReponse, it’s what I prefer and recommend. GetResponse seems to play well with internet marketers and their system is very powerful and intuitive out of the box. You don’t need to do much besides some initial setup, after purchasing a GetResponse subscription.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter as long as you are collecting emails and have the software to send them.
You Need A Website Or Blog To Collect Emails, Ideally
Although you can certainly build an email list without a website by using things like landing pages and social media, ideally, you will need a website or blog. My strategy revolves around putting out great content and making it easy for people to subscribe. Obviously, your content will be in the niche you’re trying to build an email list for. For example, if you’re a baker looking to release a new baking DVD, you will need a blog about baking to grow your email list, nurture that list, and then eventually promote your new DVD.
One of the most important things about your website, is that you must structure your website so that it is easy for people to subscribe. Have a “Start Here” page to guide new visitors and encourage them, and provide them an incentive to subscribe.
Here you will talk about who you are, what your blog is setting out to achieve, and why they (the visitor) should join you on this journey, with an opt-in form for them to opt-in to your email list.
Also, your website provides you a lot of opportunity to place opt-in forms around your site that make sense. I have a video and blog post talking about the 7 best places for opt-in forms on your website.
Your call to actions need to be good, too. Telling your visitors to “Subscribe” or “Join now!” is not good enough. You need compelling call to actions with a clear incentive. “Join to X community!” or “Subscribe and get a free t-shirt” are more along the lines of how you should be framing your calls to action on your website.
Tell people why they need to join your list, what’s in it for them and incentivize it: “Join and get my 10 free videos series on X”.
Create A Lead Magnet That You Can Create Content Around
A lead magnet is something you give away in exchange for an email address. Your lead magnet, such as a free ebook or video, is usually behind a landing page or squeeze page, in which your visitor needs to opt-in first to download your free goodie. This landing page should be what you are directing your visitors to.
Generally, the best lead magnets provide people instant gratification. Most people are too lazy to read an ebook right now, which might prevent them from opting in. Make it easy for them to get value from your lead magnet quickly: a cheatsheet, a list of tools in your niche, etc
This lead magnet should be something you can create content around for a long time, that way, whenever you create a new blog post, include a call to action in that blog post. For example, if you run a baking blog, every blog could include a call to action like the following:
If you liked this blog post about baking cakes, download my free cheatsheet, “the 10 kitchen hacks I use almost everyday to up my baking”
Create a landing page for this cheatsheet and include a link to it in the blog post, in the call to action, to this squeeze page. If you need help creating a designing an awesome landing page, I recommend using OptimizePress. I also talk about how to create squeeze pages like this really easy in this blog post.
You can always try to work this call to action in as many blog posts as you can, for example, if you’re running a baking blog, it won’t be hard to include this as a content upgrade in every new post, whether it’s a post about baking pies or keeping the kitchen clean.
Remember, just because you had a call to action for that lead magnet in your last post, doesn’t mean you can’t have the call to action again in your next blog post. You’re always going to get new shares and new eyeballs on your blog posts, with people who didn’t and won’t see your last blog post with the same call to action.
Host A Webinar
Webinars are an excellent way to grow your list fast. I’m not going to go in too much detail about webinars since I have a very comprehensive blog post and video series talking about how to create and host a webinar here, but in a nut shell, you should look to provide a lot of value in a short webinar and drive traffic to it with Facebook ads. I have a video and blog post about advanced Facebook ads, here.
Nurture The List
Now that you have the pieces in place to start collecting emails, how will you nurture this list? How will you massage it and build a relationship?
It’s really important that you build up a relationship with those on your list. You don’t just want to collect emails, and a few months later, send them a promotional email pitching your book, course or product. You want to provide a lot of value up until the point when you pitch them.
The first quick and easy tip is to be sure to collect names as well as emails. Form a personal relationship with each subscriber. The mistake I made early on, was that I was not collecting people’s first names. I was sending emails out like “Hey friend!” which in my opinion, comes across as disingenuous.
An autoresponder sequence is a great thing to set up for your new email list, so that you can provide a lot of value without you having to manually send out emails. An autoresponder sequence is a series of emails that go out to a subscriber after they sign up. This emails are spaced out, usually weekly, and filled with valuable content. I recommend at least 1 weekly email, for 10 weeks, so 10 emails you will need to create for your autoresponder sequence.
Front load the email sequence with your best emails. You can determine this by looking at which emails are getting the best open rates, and placing those emails at the beginning of the sequence.
If you don’t like the idea of an autoresponder sequence or would like to send out content on your website as it is published, you can also do RSS to Email if you post on your blog frequently enough and want to update your readers on new website content, as soon as it is published.
If you create a lot of content, say 5-6 posts a weekly, then an RSS to Email might be a bad idea. Instead, you should create an RSS to Email that goes out as a digest, say every week, with roundup of all of the new blog posts of the week.
Lastly, you can choose to manually email your list with content. If your email list topical or covers current events, this might be your best option. This can also be whenever you feel your latest blog post is most relevant or emailing with any updates you wish to share.
A great trick to help you build a relationship with your subscribers, that I use, is to simply ask questions. Look at the subscribers that have been on your list for a month and email them. Ask them what they think of the content thus far, their experience so far, and if they have any ideas for your website or content that they’d like to see.
People love this and they will love you more for doing it.
Build That List
I hope this template gives you a lot of ideas. Now it’s time to simply execute. Go out there, build an email list and have patience. Don’t expect to grow a list overnight. It takes time and more importantly, some traffic to your website and lead magnet. If you can create content that people in your niche are seeking or share, then it can put more people in front of your opt-in forms and lead magnets.
Be sure to test and track everything as well. If you have any questions regarding this blog post or list building in general, leave a comment below. I respond and engage with everyone.