With email marketing continuing to be such a powerful medium Forrester research predicts that 9000 email marketing messages a year will be delivered to every individual by 2014. Divide that number by 365 and that’s almost 25 marketing messages a day to each user’s primary inbox.
Clearly the competition for attention in the inbox is intense. In order to combat the ever increasing competition online you will need to build yourself a bigger email list.
List building begins with the sign-up process. You need to get people to subscribe. Getting subscriptions consists of two main components:
- Get plenty of traffic to your sign up form
- Get as many people who see your sign up form to take action and sign up
This post contains the most powerful tips and tools that I have used add five figures of free leads to my email list during the past few years.
Let’s dive in.
1. Start with a WordPress Blog (If you don’t have one already)
WordPress is open source blogging software that is the best way to publish your content online.
I recommend installing a self-hosted blog with a hosting service like Bluehost so that you can install plugins like Ultimate SEO, and Google XML sitemaps, which will allow you to optimize your content for Google.
WordPress is a powerhouse, driving tens of millions of blogs online. Wordpress is also used by more of the top 100 blogs than any other platforms.
To capture email subscribers you will need an email marketing software provider.
I used to work for an email marketing review website and from my experience there I decided that Aweber was the best way to go, so I recommend them.
Aweber is not free, but you can get started with them for just $1 and investing in email marketing is money well spent.
Whoever your form is with make sure it is placed in a prominent spot on your site; above the fold is best. The more people that see your form, the more will use it.
If you are looking for a free email marketing solution Mailchimp has a forever free account that enables you to manage up to 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails a month.
3. Offer an Awesome Free Gift to Subscribers
I have tried offering both and I prefer to offer an eCourse, since this gets people into the habit of opening your emails.
eCourses also tend to have a higher perceived value than en eBook.
It is worth your time to create two or more lead magnets and find out which work best for you. Different offers attract different people.
If you convert your eBook or eCourse into a format that works with Kindle eBook readers this will enable you to offer extra appeal to the millions of people who own these devices.
4. Create a Compelling Sign up Form
Be sure to include a compelling graphic of the free gift you are offering.
One of the reasons I really like Aweber is because they have a powerful form tool that makes it easy to design forms. The lightbox and sidebar form on this site and all my forms on all my sites are made with Aweber.
When I added a 3d eBook image to my opt-in form I noticed a 5x increase in my subscribers.
A piece of software called boxshot king works like magic for creating awesome 3d images for digital products that you can offer as opt-in gifts. The image below shows a few of the different kinds of graphics you can create with boxshot king without Photoshop.
5. Give People Several Reasons to Sign Up
Its hard to fit all of the reasons why someone should sign up to your email list into a sidebar form.
One way that you can better convince people to sign up is by creating a 10 Reasons why You Should Join my Email List page and linking to it under this form.
Naturally the page featuring these 10 reasons to join your list should have a sign-up form as well.
6.Use Squeeze Landing Pages
An effective landing page (squeeze page) has a much better rate of success for capturing new leads than any other form placement.
The idea behind an effective squeeze page is to maximize conversions with a single call to action.
My squeeze pages get about a 50% opt-in rate, which is pretty healthy, and will build a traffic getting list fast.
Check out my Facebook Ecourse to see my standard squeeze page setup.
A powerful way to rapidly create a squeeze page if you have a self hosted WordPress blog is with the Optimize Press theme.
The Optimize Press theme makes it easy to create landing pages and sales letters that convert!
Below is an example of one of the many examples of squeeze pages you can create with Optimize Press:
7. Install a Lightbox
Although some people find light boxes obtrusive they work like magic for conversions.
The Aweber form builder tool enables you to turn any form into a lightbox.
I currently have an Aweber lightbox installed into this page and it gets me more subscribers than any other form.
8. Leverage the Power of Social Media
Using social media on an ongoing basis has helped me add thousands of people to my email list, and build some amazing relationships in the process.
The two networks that have enabled me to grow the most are Facebook and Twitter.
9. Tell Everyone You Know
Leverage your existing contacts to build your email list.
Tell your friends about your optin gift and share a link to your squeeze page with your social media audiences.
Email your existing contacts list and let them know about the eBook or eCourse you are offering.
10. Article Marketing
Article marketing is a way to spread your content across the web and get plenty of links back to your website in the process.
The links and traffic you get from article marketing can build your list and boost your seo. I recommend using a link that lin
11. Generate Leads with Pay Per Click
Although pay per click is not free it becomes free as soon as you know your numbers.
Let’s say that every lead that signs up earns you an average of $2 over the next year. This means that if you can use PPC to get a lead for less than $2 you will be getting that lead for free, and earning profit on the margin between your cost and income.
12. YouTube Video Optimization
Use annotations with a call to action
Annotations are those little text boxes that you have probably seen on top of YouTube videos before.
Annotations take only a few moments to publish but if you include them they can send a steady amount of traffic to your site over time, especially if your video starts to gain serious traction!
Studies show that reading while reading increases retention by as much as 38%. If you use a verbal call to action for engagement combined with a written call to action via an annotation this should amp up your response.
Include a hyperlink in your video description.
Include a link to one of your your squeeze pages in the first line of your video description.
Another tactic to get more people on your list with your videos is to watermark your videos with a URL of your squeeze page.
You can insert an an intro and outro slide with a call to action for people to visit your squeeze page and join your list.
13. Video Distribution
Although YouTube is by far the biggest video website on the net, and even nets more traffic than Google.com some days, you can still pick up a significant amount of traffic from other video sites and this can lead to many new opt-ins over time.
One way to distribute your videos is using the video syndication service oneload.
14. Offline Marketing (Business Cards)
Promotional business cards are a great way to build your business and your brand.
Be different: don’t just create a boring ordinary card like everyone else.
Use curiosity and a call to action.
If I get cards made up for my business I will put something like this on them:
REVEALED: 25 Powerful Facebook Marketing Secrets
Get a Free eBook and discover them today at: www.fbpower.com
Boom. If I left a handful of cards with the copy above at any random Starbucks I am sure that I would get a handful of leads as a result.
15. Guest Blogging
Guest blogging is a great way to tap into larger audiences than your own and build your personal brand and your email list simultaneously.
When you publish a guest post for another blog they give you a signature line at the end where you can link back to your website.
The optimal way to use this link is not to link to your main page, but to an optimized squeeze page within your website, so that you capture the maximum amount of subscribers.
16. Install a Sign up Form into Your Facebook Page
I use an awesome free Facebook iframe app host called a Woobox to add sign up forms to all of the Facebook pages I admin.
This form brings me opt-ins over time, depending on how active I am on my Facebook page.
I explain exactly how to install a custom opt-in form into your Facebook page and much more in my Facebook Marketing program Facebook Power.
17. Forwarded Emails
You can do forwarded e-mails.
If you make a really, really great e-mail with a subscribe link to your most compelling opt-in offer then you can forward it on, in a style similar to existing forwarded e-mails.
When people see that an email has already been forwarded several times they will be more likely to pass it on.
This can be a great way of getting an email message to spread virally if done properly.
Note: I’ve never used this tactic since I prefer to be transparent, but it seems clever, and probably works.
18. Leave Insightful Comments
Go above and beyond with the comments you leave on blogs.
Include your blog name within your name field, in addition to your name.
For example: Garin from SmartOnlineSuccess.com instead of just Garin Kilpatrick.
19. Optimize Your Website to Become a Lead Capturing Machine
In addition to a sidebar form install a form at the bottom of every post.
A new WordPress plugin I use to get more subscribers is called OptinSkin and so far I have been getting great results with it.
I liked the plugin so much I created an optinskin video review with it and am offering a bonus package to anyone who buys it through my link.
20. Encourage Word of Mouth Marketing
In your welcome email that automatically deploys when someone signs up to your list encourage your new subscribers to tell their friends.
Once new subscribers click confirm to join your list you can take them to a thank you page that encourages them to spread the word about your page, and features social sharing buttons so they can easily share your newsletter with their friends on social media.
21. Build Multiple Lists
For examples I have a general list, a Twitter focused list, and a Facebook list.
Have multiple opt-in offers.
I tell each list about the other lists and have a few thousand people who are subscribed to more than one of my lists.
This way I can focus the messages I send and create deeper relationships with the leads on my lists.
22. Keep Sign up Form Fields to a Minimum
The fewer fields you have in your sign up form the more people will sign up.
I like to get both a name and an email address from my subscribers so I can personalize my emails, but I have started asking for just an email address because I want my list to grow faster.
My recommendation is to only ask for a name and an email at most, or your conversion rate will seriously suffer.
23. Above the Fold
Keep your opt-in form visible and above the fold.
This will lead to many more subscribers over time than if you put it lower in your sidebar.
24. Build Your List with Google+
Google+ already has over 100 million users and is getting bigger all the time.
Add a post about your opt-in offer and then invite as many people as possible to connect with you on G+.
This tip won’t bring you a massive amount of new subscribers but every little bit helps and your main take away from this tip should be to try and be building your list at every turn.
25. Give your Newsletter a Cool Name
I call my newsletter “The Awesome Newsletter” and I try as hard as I can to make every email I send as awesome as possible.
26. Use the 80/20 Rule for Your Content and Sales
It’s okay to include the occasional pitch or product recommendation into your newsletters but stay focused on providing awesome content first.
A good rule to use is to be at most 20% pitch and 80% content, and the more quality content you give your subscribers, the better.
27. Link it Up
Throw down a link to your list everywhere you possibly can.
Although simple, this strategy is incredibly powerful if you put it into action and start to spread your name far and wide and influence the masses.
28. Give Exclusive Content to Subscribers
Make your subscribers feel special by giving them special subscriber only content.
.PDF’s and access to password protected posts (easy to do with WordPress) are just two ways to create the rapport with your subscribers that will get them to tell their friends about you, and keep them from unsubscribing.
29. Social Sharing Plugins
Install Facebook like buttons, Twitter tweet buttons, and any other buttons that are relevant to your opt-in offer directly on your squeeze page.
30. Use an Exit Pop-up
This tip is to be used with caution because exit pop-ups tend to piss people off.
However, when you are paying for traffic the visitors on your site are costing you cash, and if they are going to leave from your sales letter they might just not be ready to buy right now, so it makes sense to use an Exit Splash Popup and offer them a free gift to try and get their email as they leave so you can follow up…otherwise they may never visit your site again.
31. Keep Your Subscribers Happy
If your newsletter is a constant stream of sales pitches then you will have a hard time building your list because so many people will be leaving it.
Conversely, if your newsletter is action packed full of awesome your subscribers will tell their friends and your list will organically spread by word of mouth.
32. Create Epic Content
Epic content is the only kind of content you should focus on creating, in my opinion.
The reason why is simple: epic content can out pull mediocre content in terms of traffic and lead generation a hundred fold or more!
The graphic below shows the reason why; because epic content is far more likely to rank at the top of Google search results, and consequently pull in the lions share of traffic.
33. Do Joint Venture List Building Promotions (Ad Swaps)
If you can find someone in a similar niche to your own, with a similar sized audience, you can approach them and offer to do a JV list swap.
A list swap is where both people involved tell their audience about the other persons newsletter.
The only problem with ad swaps is some times both people do not reciprocate.
To prevent this from happening the site safe-swaps was created; this site is a web application that automates the sending process and integrates reviews so you can have some assurance that you won’t get screwed when you are ad swapping.
I have not been to impressed with safe-swaps in the past, but I also used it when I was just starting out, so my list was rather small and conequently I was swapping with people who had low quality newsletters and offers.
34. Social Bookmarking
Social Bookmarking is a great way to get quality links to your site, which bring some traffic, but mostly work to boost the rank of your content in Google which will get you traffic and leads by the dozen if you land in one of the top slots.
A tool you can us to simplify your life when it comes to social bookmarking is Onlywire. You can use Onlywire for free to send your content to dozens of social bookmarking sites at once.
35. Host a Webinar
Webinars are high value events. I’ve seen people charge $50 or more for a quality webinar, and really that price is a steal if the information is valuable.
Host a webinar for free and give away as much value as you can, so that the people who attended can’t believe they got it for free, then at the end ask them to recommend your newsletter with their friends.
Many will, and this will bring you many new subscribers.
36. Run a Contest
Give away a product or service for free and make it for newsletter subscribers only so new people feel compelled to subscribe.
37. Get Leads with Ebay
eBay is actually an awesome way to generate buyer leads for your list.
You can sell something really inexpensive on ebay, like a 99-cent special report.
If your offer is compelling you can have people access the content by opting into your list.
These leads are great to have on your list since they have already bought from you and therefore are highly likely to purchase from you again.
Not sure if this next tip is within eBay’s terms of service, but I am pretty sure you can advertise a link where people can access a free report within a paid auction. This method could get you several more opt-ins beyond the buyer lead you get from whoever buys your 99 cent special report.
38. Get a Dedicated Domain for Your Opt-in Offer
For example: http://thesocialmediastrategyguide.com
This strategy works great when you share your lead magnet on social media.
39. Integrate Testimonials into Your Sign up Form
This tactic will re-assure the people who are hesitant. If someone else endorses you then your newsletter must be worthwhile.
The more influential the person who gives the testimonial is, the better.
40. Use the Hello Bar to Attract Attention
I use this strategy on smartonlinesuccess.com. It does not bring a ton of new subscribers, but it works.
Craigslist is one of the top 50 websites in the world, and consequently has millions of advocates who spend plenty of time on the site.
Place an ad on Craigslist and there is a good chance you will get some response from it. Track the clicks you get with Google Analytics or bit.ly short links to measure the effectiveness of your craigslist efforts.
42. Email Signature
Include a link and a call to action to your squeeze page in your email signature.
If you want your opt-in offer to really stand out you can use the free tool Wisestamp to add an image and more to your outgoing emails.
43. Help out Influential People
Find people in your niche who have bigger audiences than you and find a way to help them.
If you have a special skill offer to help out someone who has a big audience.
Once you help out a person with influence ask for their help building your list by telling their audience about your newsletter.
The psychological element of reciprocity comes into effect here. Since you have already helped them before you asked this the chances are very good that they will co-operate with your request.
44. Post Your Newsletter on Your Blog
If you post your newsletter on your blog this enables you to pick up extra traffic from people who find your newsletter in Google.
Make sure to add as many relevant “tags” to your posts to help your content rank for these different keywords.
45. Make Your Content So Awesome People Share it
Deliver awesome every time you hit the send button.
46. Link to Your List from your Twitter Bio
A Twitter tip most people do not know is that you can include multiple links in your bio.
47. Watermark Images you Share
Think like a graffiti artist and put your name on all content you create.
This strategy will get you more traffic and more subscribers, without a doubt.
48. Build Your List with Pinterest
Pinterest is now the #38 website in the world so if you are not using it yet to send traffic to your sites and build your list, you should be.
49. Leverage Linkedin
Include a link to your list from your profile.
Mention that you are a publisher of a newsletter in your description and reference your list as many times as possible in your profile.
Check out my post about Linkedin SEO for a powerful strategy that will get your profile more exposure.
50. Leave a Comment Below and Tell us About Your List
Leave a comment below and tell the readers of this post about your newsletter.
Make sure to include a link to a site where readers can subscribe to your list in the URL site of your comment.
Share this post with your friends on social media if you found it valuable. I really appreciate your support! Cheers. 🙂