Curated Content, based on material originally written by Kevan Lee, from Buffer and with lots of new content added by me and my earlier posts on the subject
Where do email subscribers fall on your list of priorities?
While social media might be the hot place to push your marketing efforts, there are many who choose to rely instead on building a valuable email list. And they are correct.
Most of the experts or "gurus" will tell you that around ninety percent of their income comes from it. If you build it up and do it properly, developing a strong following your list will be your biggest asset.
Email is the most important channel for you to cultivate.
Social Media is the way to get people there to see your brilliant content.
Think of it like a fantastic store, brimming with beautiful, bright and shiny objects, that people will want to buy as soon as they see them, but the trouble is that the shop is in a remote and lonely backstreet, off the beaten track and nobody can find it. So you get some guys to stand on the street corners with sandwich boards, or you put up signs, or you take out advertising in glossy magazines, and then the people come.
You see the analogies?
The website is the shop with all the attractive products, the social media posts are your sandwich boards, or signposts or TV ads to get the people to do one thing - walk into your shop!, because they see you as interesting and worth checking out!
Once they arrive you take their name and find ways to invite them back - you might walk up to them and take their business card, or put their name on a list, or have them fill out a form or a survey - that is the equivalent of your list.
It's great to have all those new customers walking in off the street, but your list is your means of staying in touch. Having done all the hard work of getting them there, you need to keep them interested and coming back. Repeat business is the real business.
With an BIG email list of people who like you and your content (that comes from your highly interesting and informative blog), you can run multiple parallel income streams, because they like YOU and that means that they will probably like most of whatever you have on offer.
How big is big? That may vary according to the quality of your list, and the people on it. It may vary with the quality and types of product you are selling. Big ticket, small ticket, physical goods, online, digital, e-books, drop-shipping, affiliate marketing. Probably the best rule of thumb is "get it as big as you can"
How Big is Too Big? Good luck trying to find that out. The big guns of internet marketing have hundreds of thousands on their lists and that is because they know the meaning of the phrase: .."..the money is in the list .."
How do the experts do it? If your take a close look at the heavyweights of email (plus several other amazing sites) to see what methods they use to gain new subscribers, here is what you will learn.
The simple formula for growing a massive email list
In analysing the websites and techniques of some of these awesome email list builders, a certain formula starts to emerge. If we could boil down the process of building a massive email list to just the most basic parts, it would probably look like this:
Amazing blog content + crystal clear calls-to-action = massive email list
Can it really be that simple? The experts (Kevan Lee, Michael Stelzner and many others) think so.
Basically, everything begins with content. People will find your site because of your amazing content. They will keep coming back for amazing content. Your amazing content will be the foundation of what you email to them, which will be the reason they stay subscribed (or not.)
It all starts with amazing content.
I write a lot about great content and engagement and to re-cap here are a few of my most favourite articles:
Once you have the amazing content, the next step is to ask for emails. People who adore your content will be primed to receive that content as often as you can create it, delivered straight to their inbox. It’s up to you to make sure they find your call-to-action (or, in this case, a call-to-subscribe). Make it obvious. Make it crystal clear.
With this in mind …
6 key strategies on how to grow your subscription list
Examining these top blogs (plus some bonus research, too) shows that there are many different ways to go about growing your list and creating those crystal clear calls-to-action that drive subscribers. Here are a few of the best ideas.
1. Treat your blog home page like an email capture form
For those who focus on building and growing an email subscriber list, their home pages reflect how vital email is to their content strategy. Big, bold signup forms dominate the home pages of many email-savvy blogs.
2. Include a can’t-miss call-to-action: Popups, slideups, menus, and popovers
It’s rare to read an article on growing an email list without coming across a recommendation for installing a popup. The reason: It’s sound advice, backed by good numbers.
Popups are a can’t-miss call-to-action. Literally. It doesn’t get more can’t-miss than a window appearing over the content you’re trying to read.
Of course, this method of email capture can be hotly debated for just this reason. As Hunter Boyle of Aweber puts it:
"...Every time I present, I ask who hates popovers, and 2/3 of the crowd nods and groans. The other 1/3? They’re usually okay with popovers because they’re getting good results from them! ...
Fortunately, there are options for popups, as the strategy covers a wide variety of different implementations. I’m throwing all these under the umbrella of “popup.” Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any favorites you’ve used or seen.
3. Multiple CTAs: Give readers infinity+1 opportunities to subscribe
Seems like those who build lists best make email an unmistakeable part of their blog design and calls-to-action. You cannot escape the calls to signup.
There might be a signup in a popover, a signup at the top of a blog post, another one at the bottom.
Basically, the design assumes that people will view the site differently and that in order to maximize the chances that a potential subscriber sees a signup form you’d best put sign up forms everywhere.
Think you’re going overboard with the email signup requests? Listen to your audience, who will likely let you know when you’ve crossed the line. You can also adhere to the old colloquialism, “You’ll know it when you see it.” Go with your gut.
Here are some top places to try placing an email signup form (or two or three) on your blog:
Your potential subscribers—even if they differ across demographics and industries and target audience—are still human. They LOVE free stuff and particularly free stuff that makes them money!
Attaching something valuable to your email signup form is a surefire way to pique interest. Basically, give something away for free, for the price of an email address (which we all know is worth way more than free to the site that gets it). Here are a few suggestions.
HubSpot is one of the industry leaders in giveaways (so it’s probably no surprise they’re industry leaders, period). In an article about email list growth, Ginny Soskey shared HubSpot’s two-part view of giving something of value to potential subscribers:
"...We suggest starting with two types of free offers. One top-of-the-funnel, educational piece of content like an ebook, and one middle-of-the-funnel offer to let someone speak with your sales team to get a demo or a quote or a free consultation or whatever works for your specific business. By having these two types of offers on your website, you can capture potential leads and convert customers that are in different stages of the buying process...."
5. Keep the subscription link handy
Place a lead capture form on every page. But also place it everywhere else that you can.
Depending on your email software, there is likely a landing page devoted to acquiring email signups. You can get the link and share it in a huge number of different places like email signatures, social media messages, and guest blog bios.
Once you have the link, keep it handy. You never know when you might have a chance to use it.
Ryan Hoover has a neat trick for gaining more email signups - he replies to each and every mention on Twitter, often starting a conversation with folks who have shared his content. As part of this conversation, he’ll drop in an offer to sign up for his email list, sending over the direct link to do so.
Just as in normal physical selling you CLOSE the sale when you ASK FOR the sale. Gaining optins should be no different. Ask for them.
The results: 60 to 80 percent of people convert.
6. Test your messages: Start with social proof
Would you be more apt to join an email list if you knew 8,000 other people were already signed up?
The concept of social proof says yes, which is why you see many sites advertise the size of their email list on their signup form.
Case studies: How the best sites gain signups
Now that you’ve seen the many different ways to grow an email list, I’d love to show you how some of the top sites implement these ideas. Here is what I found when browsing around some of my favorite sources of email inspiration.
James Clear – 70,000 subscribers
Clearly, email is a priority for him!
Help Scout – 60,000 subscribers
Help Scout is one of the best at putting focus on an email signup at the home page of their blog. The image above is from the blog landing page. When you navigate deeper into the blog, the subscribe form moves to the sidebar.
Also on the main page (and subsequent pages) is an ebook giveaway. The ebook is web-based so you can view the full thing in one click. At the end of the ebook is a call to action to sign up for email updates.
Andrew Chen was one of leaders in implementing the homepage-as-signup-form. His main page has an additional little trick. When you first land on there, the email form is highlighted automatically, and you can start typing your email address without needing to even click.
You may also notice that Chen takes a different approach to social proof. He does not advertise the number of subscribers to his list but rather mentions recommendations from Wired magazine and 500 Startups.
Michael Hyatt – 115,000 subscribers
One of Michael Hyatt‘s secrets to building an incredible list is with giveaways—and probably a good amount of A/B testing. His calls-to-action for downloading a free ebook are really excellent.
Social Media Examiner – 250,000 subscribers
Much like Hubspot, Social Media Examiner is really good at giving things away. Their homepage has a huge call-to-action to sign up for a free ebook. When you’re scrolling down an individual blog post, you see another CTA—a popup offering instant access to a free video. With events and webinars and many different forms of media, Social Media Examiner has lots of opportunity to appeal to subscribers in many different ways.
Which email growth method do you find yourself using?
Which methods do you find yourself using to sign up on blogs? What have you used for your own site to attract email subscribers? I’d love to hear from you.
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Email Marketing Tips
This blog post was based on material Written by Kevan Lee - content crafter at Buffer and on many of my own blogs on the subject. I hope that a fresh point of view was helpful and would love to hear what you think.
In the meantime, if you are looking for another Giveaway to help build your list and put some nice tidy sums of money in the bank at the same time try these giveaways:-
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