We all want to build up our email lists and get more subscribers.
And the common way to go about that is to offer an “ethical bribe”, or “free giveaway”. And, in almost all cases, this ends up being an ebook.
In some niches, an ebook is still a rather novel idea. However, in a growing portion of the Internet, free ebook giveaways are getting so common that the effectiveness of the offer has dropped a lot.
Of course, much of this comes down to how well you entice people. With an effective title, good cover images, enticing bullet points which tap into that sense of mystery… you can undoubtedly still get people to drool over your free ebook.
However, the perceived value of an ebook has dropped. The novelty has worn out, to a degree.
So, let’s look at some more uncommon ways to go about it. “Uncommon” not in the fact that nobody has thought of it before… but because the majority don’t seem to do it.
#1 – Webinars
Doing webinars is a FANTASTIC way to build a list. Think about it… not only are you getting their email address when they register, but you’re also getting a PRIME opportunity to really build a strong relationship with them by providing solid information for an hour or so.
More people are doing webinars now, but a vast majority still don’t. They either think it is too technical, don’t like the cost of a GotoWebinar account, or are still afraid to do a live event for fear of looking like an idiot. But, I promise you… it isn’t technical, the cost is minimal when compared to the return, and you’ll get over that nervousness VERY quickly.
Take what you might otherwise offer in a blog post and doing it in a webinar instead. You should know what kinds of things your market will go for.
On the technical side, it is imperative that you capture emails. If you use a GotoWebinar system, the emails go there. You can export the emails and put them into an email system like IContact… but that’s tedious. A MUCH better way is to use a system which dual-subscribes the user. It captures their email in your email list and RSVP’s them for your webinar at the same time.
There are a few of these solutions out there now, but my favorite (and the one I use personally) is WP Webinar Pro. You just set up a page on your WordPress blog for the webinar RSVP page, enter the settings, pick a template – and you’re done. Instead of pointing them to GTW directly, you point them to your own RSVP page.
I personally prefer WP Webinar Pro over the others because I think the templates are better and the functionality is just cleaner to use. And, I’ve tried several others.
Works fantastically to build an email list.
#2 – Free Membership Sites
Simple idea, of course. The big idea behind it is that membership sites have a higher perceived value than an ebook. So, whatever you might otherwise pop into a PDF and give away, just put it into a membership site instead. You can even use other forms of delivery (like video, MP3, etc.) because you’ll have that flexibility.
Using Wishlist Member, you can have people sign up for a free membership very easily. Wishlist will auto-subscribe them to your email list using the built-in autoresponder integration.
#3 – Facebook Fan Pages
This is one that I’m going to be soon acting upon. See, I have a Facebook fan page. I even have a custom landing page on it. However, I DON’T have it set up to subscribe people to my list. And I should.
The way to do this is using a “fan gate”. It means showing different content for non-fans versus fans on a custom tab. So, you set your page to point to a custom tab. That page defaults to the non-fan version, which of course is all about getting them to hit the LIKE button. Once they like the page, they then see the fan version… which is an OPT-IN FORM.
So, first they like your page, then they opt-in. The fan-gate page can be customized to tell them why they should opt-in. You can even have video on there if you want. And, now you’ve just suddenly turned your fan page into a real lead generator.
There’s a free Facebook app called TabPress which can help you set up a fan-gate. Problem is, you’ll need to manually code some stuff in HTML to use that.
A much more full-featured solution is WP Fan Pro, which will allow you to set up your fan page using… WordPress. Freakin’ awesome.
#4 – Facebook Opt-in Forms
I’m starting to see these on a few sites, but it is still a pretty new idea. Instead of having an opt-in form have the standard name and email fields, you have a form which is pre-filled using the reader’s contact information from Facebook.
This is powerful because (1) they see their own profile photo, which is instant recognition, (2) the name is pre-filled and it is actually accurate, (3) the email is pre-filled using their REAL email address.
Those last two points are important. Because more and more people are (unfortunately) entering “throw away” email addresses into opt-in forms these days. Or bogus names (like “Mickey Mouse”). However, on Facebook they have their real information. And most of us are surfing the Internet already logged into Facebook.
These are super easy to make now using Aweber (my preferred email list provider). Aweber now provides super-easy Facebook opt-in forms you can use. If the person isn’t logged into Facebook, they just see a normal opt-in form.
#5 – Comment Opt-In
When people post a comment on your blog, they’re entering their email address anyway. Why not give them the option to subscribe to your list right then and there? Only make sense, doesn’t it?
An easy way to set this up is using the Action Comments plug-in. The only “catch” is that this won’t work if you’re using a third-party comment system like Disqus or Livefyre. You have to be using WordPress’s built-in comment system.
#6 – Mini-Courses and Training
This one is, again, simple. If an ebook is a 2 or 3 on a 10-point scale of coolness… access to a full training course would be a good solid 9. Give your subscriber something you would normally expect to pay for… but they’ll get it for free just by subscribing. A 10-video series might be a nice example. Really over-deliver.
I’m throwing some ideas around to set this up myself. I mean, my Blueprint report is pretty good (so I’m told), but still…its an ebook. There are clearly untapped opportunities here. Hell, the Blueprint itself could even be turned into a mini training course.
You could even use Wishlist Member with this idea and protect the whole thing with a free membership level (see above).
The idea here is to think outside the box. If everybody else is giving away an ebook, there’s a lot of opportunity in trying something different.