When it comes to online marketing, most people are overlooking their number-one biggest asset.
Social media activity, off-site ads, and all other tricks are a drop in the bucket compared to the power of the email list. You may have heard me say it a million times on this site, but I’ll say it again here: the energy of your business is directly tied to the strength of your email list.
But don’t just take my word for it.
“I have literally built a million dollar business on the strength of my email list. Ninety percent of my income comes from it. Even today, my email list is still my #1 business priority and asset.” (Michael Hyatt)
“Without a doubt, our email list is the best investment we’ve ever made.” (Douglas Karr)
“Email is the most important channel for you to cultivate in your online business.” (Mike Stelzner)
These guys are heavyweights in the online marketing world; each of them has a subscriber list numbering well over 100,000. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a list in the hundreds, or even thousands, makes your email marketing strategy less important.
No matter what your subscriber numbers are, your email list is one of the most valuable assets you have in the quest to help your business thrive. When you really understand the value of that list, you’ll be more than happy to invest your time, energy and budget to help that list thrive.
In this blog post, I’m going to highlight three foundational strategies for growing your email list. Once you implement these strategies, you’re well on your way to creating smart marketing funnels that will put your list-building efforts on warp speed, as well as lead to increased revenue from each email you send out.
The Main Thing: Quality over Quantity
When my good friend David Siteman Garland (of The Rise to the Top) started out, he had an email subscriber list of just 500 people. In those early days, he did a small product launch and generated $19,800 on the strength of that list.
These days, David’s email list is much larger. What hasn’t changed is the incredible loyalty of those subscribers. Whenever I do any kind of affiliation with David, I’m astonished at the way his list gravitates immediately toward any email he puts out.
It’s all because he started with a focus on list quality.
David never fails to infuse his emails with his authentic personality. He is genuine, super funny, and a little bit quirky…all reasons why his subscribers love him and keep coming back for more.
David is a prime example of my first strategy for growing your email list.
Strategy #1: Build Remarkable Content
This means more than simply content that people want to share. Remarkable means truly leaving your mark by ensuring that you’ve niched your business well.
When you direct your communication in general terms toward anyone who might be listening, no one feels like you are talking to them. The key is talking to a very specific audience about a very specific message.
When it comes to content, niching yourself can make all the difference between great and remarkable.
The difference starts with how it affects you, the content creator. The people that get very specific with their message tend to get much more excited about their business, because they know exactly what they’re doing and who they’re trying to reach. Creating the content stops being a chore, and starts to simply flow out of them.
A message that tries too hard to fit too many different types of people is not only less rich, it’s just not as exciting to create.
In contrast, niching your business empowers you to send an extremely powerful message. This is what attracts the people who are going to stay with you. Those are the subscribers who constitute a quality list.
Let Your Personality Shine
To build a loyal following that eats up everything you putting out there, make sure that you bring your personality to every email.
If you are silly, bring that to your emails.
If you’re really witty, make sure that shines through.
All of those little quirks that make you unique should shine through in your email content. Use stories—especially your own—as much as you can. And when you’ve done a good job of niching yourself, your target audience will instantly see themselves in your stories.
This is what remarkable content is made of. It’s what speaks to your audience in a genuine, heartfelt way. It’s what makes them excited to open your emails.
Strategy #2: Understand the Opportunities and Limitations of Your Email Service Provider
Your “email service provider” is the company you use to send out your bulk emails, as well as manage all of your new opt-ins and leads. Some of the most popular options are AWeber, MailChimp, and Infusionsoft…but there many, many others out there.
Before getting into the specifics of this strategy, here’s a little pop quiz to see how well you know your own email service provider.
(Don’t worry—if you fail, no one’s even going to know.)
Pop Quiz: How Well Do You Know Your Email Service Provider?
- Does you email service provider require a double opt in from your new leads or do you have the choice for single opt in?
- Are you able to easily do A-B split testing with your emails?
- Can you manually import a customer list and mail to that list instantly?
- Are you able to send out time-based email autoresponders?
- Are you able to send out a new autoresponder based on a specific action somebody took in an email that you sent?
If you just aced that test, bravo. But if you didn’t, don’t worry—you’re not alone.
A lot of people sign up for mass email services but never take the time to learn how they work. Invariably, these people get held up in the process every time they try to email their list. It becomes such a negative experience that, over time, they start finding reasons not to email their list. Or they simply rely on sending out the same newsletter template over and over.
Being limited in your understanding of how your provider works means stifling not just your creativity, but also your ability to make money. If you’re happy with your email service provider, but you don’t know the ins and outs, it’s time to make some time for it. If you’ve been thinking you needed to upgrade your provider, you might be pleasantly surprised to find that you can do a whole lot more than you realized.
Many providers have great tutorial videos. A lot of them also have Facebook groups where you can ask questions and learn from other users. And if you have an idea in mind that you want to try, but can’t figure it out on your own, take advantage of the provider support desk. Get on the phone with them and tell them exactly what you’re trying to do.
Bottom line: the more educated you are about how your email service provider works, the more innovative and strategic ways you’ll come up with to market your business.
To help you with this, I’m offering a special free download—a cheat sheet that shows the opportunities and limitations of some of the most popular email service providers. You can download it for free by clicking here. Or simply text 42download to 38470 and I’ll send you that cheat sheet right away.
Strategy #3: Create Multiple Lead Opportunities
This third strategy has two parts to consider:
1) Creating Multiple Lead Magnets
In my opinion, everybody with an online business should have at least three lead magnets running at any given time. No matter how niched your audience is, you’re going to appeal to more people within that niche if you offer a diverse array of valuables.
Some people prefer a webinar.
Others just want a cheat sheet PDF.
Still others want a full-on report that walks them step-by-step through an important process.
We all respond to different modalities. That’s why it’s important that you provide multiple opportunities for your target audience.
You can even create multiple lead magnets out of the same content—make a webinar, a PDF and a video out of the same material. Or you can create unique lead magnets for each topic. Experiment with different approaches to find what works best for your business. The results will tell you a lot about your audience.
In addition, once you start to use your email service provider to its full potential, you can track and tag your various leads to see where they’ve come from. This is really valuable because it lets you see which platform (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, or others) is converting the most leads for you, as well as which individual lead is converting the best.
Never forget that the point of having a lead magnet is to lead your new prospect into becoming a paying customer. Therefore, you must create lead magnets with your profit path in mind.
It’s okay if you’re not ready to launch a program or product just yet. Even if you’re in a place in your business where you’re just building up your online presence, it’s still extremely important that you create your lead magnet to start building your list.
If you are ready to sell, think about your end game. Is your lead magnet aligned with what you plan to sell? What does you idea audience need to understand, be aware of, or believe in order to want or need your product, program, or service? Design your lead magnet content to ensure that your audience truly understands the value of your offer.
Where most people fail with a lead magnet is creating it with the idea of only offering immense value. That’s important, but it’s not the only thing to focus on. A well-designed lead magnet not only offers value, but also leads your prospect to a buying decision.
Let’s say you are a health and fitness coach, and your business is all about helping people lose weight. If your paid program is a ten-day meal plan to detox from sugar, a great lead magnet might be “Ten tips to beat sugar cravings.” The two are aligned with each other; with a lead magnet like that, you’re going to attract the perfect audience that would be genuinely interested in what you have to sell.
2) Placement of Your Opt-In Form
There are six places where you must create opt-in opportunities for your audience:
#1: A Feature Box
Feature boxes work like gangbusters. Splashed right across the header of your website, they are a great representation of your brand from the moment someone lands on your home page. (You can see mine at amyporterfield.com.)
#2: The Sidebar
Everyone is familiar with this one—the right column of a website is where people expect to find the links they need to navigate your website. You definitely want an opt-in opportunity here.
#3: Inside Your Blog Content
It just makes sense to have a link to your free valuable content in the midst of your primary content. By hyperlinking a word or phrase, readers can click to make a box appear that allows them to receive your free giveaway by entering their name and email. This is where I use Lead Pages—it has a feature called Lead Boxes that allows you to do exactly that.
#4: The End of a Blog Post
A reader who has followed your blog post to the very end is a hot lead for you. So create an opportunity with an opt-in box at the end of a post where they can sign up to receive even more value.
#5: The Pop-Up Box
If you just cringed when I said that, stay with me. Pop-up boxes definitely get a lot of bad press. But the fact remains that they are extremely effective.
Between January 2011 and January 2013, Social Media Examiner grew their email list by 375% to over 190,000 readers. Founder Mike Stelzner attributes nearly 70% of that growth to the site’s pop-up box.
Here’s a contrasting example from renowned blogger and author Chris Penn. After he took his pop-up box down from his website, he said his subscriptions “fell off a cliff.” Within weeks, he started running a new series of pop-up boxes and saw an increase in his opt-ins.
Pop-up boxes definitely work, especially if you are cultivating a quality audience. I promise, if your audience really feels loyal to you, they are not going to be annoyed by it.
Pop-ups are infinitely customizable these days. You can design them to look the way you want and appear only when you want them to. (One of my favorite tools to customize pop-up boxes is optinmonster.com.) I like to have them appear within minutes of someone being on the site, but not appear again until 15 or 30 views later. You can also make sure they are mobile friendly—in other words, that people viewing your site on their smartphones can make the pop-up box go away, if they want to.
#6: Your “About” Page
You might be surprised to hear that your About page is one of the most popular pages on your site. So if you’re not including a few email sign-up opportunities on your About page, you are likely losing some great traffic. Again, Lead Boxes is a great option for embedding an opt-in opportunity inside your About page text.
You might be thinking that’s a lot of places to incorporate an opt-in box on your website. But it all comes back to being appropriately aggressive in building your list. Don’t think you’re bothering somebody with an opt-in box. If your content is remarkable, and you’ve built a quality audience that is eager to hear from you, then they will be eager to sign up as well. If they’ve already signed up, they will just ignore the opt-in opportunities.
It’s a good idea to mix up your lead magnets and opt-ins throughout those different placements. For example, on my feature box across the top of my website, I have a free mini series about social media and list building. But inside my About page, I will have a PDF of all of the tools I use online. Then in the right sidebar I have an opportunity to sign up for a webinar.
This is not something you can do overnight. It takes a little bit of time to build up your lead magnet opportunities. But it’s definitely worth the effort.
Three online marketing strategies to help build your email list:
- Build remarkable, personalized content
- Learn to really use your email service provider
- Create multiple lead opportunities and embed them throughout your site
And always focus on quality, and the quantity will follow.
Links mentioned in this episode include: