Ultimate Guide To Building An Email List: List Building That Works And Makes You Money
The complete guide to how to build your email list from your blog, including opt-in and lead magnet strategy that is working today.
[highlight]This guide is updated over time as new trends and strategies arise. So, you may want to bookmark it.[/highlight]
Building an email list has changed over the years.
It used to be that you could just say “Subscribe to my Newsletter” and people would do it. Those were the days where getting email was special. Where “You got mail!” was a fun thing (which is why AOL decided to use it).
But, then email volume increased and people began to get much more discerning of when and where they’ll give away their email address. The idea was to give them something cool in exchange for that email address.
It started with the “Free Ebook”. Once again, back when the e-book was new and cool. Then everybody jumped on the bandwagon and e-books. Today, ebooks just aren’t so novel anymore.
So, the relative “size” of the giveaway got larger. People thought they should create big things in exchange for the email. Videos, courses, challenges – you name it.
And even today, a LOT of blog owners think that the way to build their email list is to create a big giveaway offer of some kind. The bigger the better.
But, we live in an information-saturated world today. Those videos, courses and challenges tend to blend right into the scenery. So, bigger isn’t always better anymore.
Things have evolved again.
[clickToTweet tweet=”When it comes to building your list, size doesn’t matter anymore. Size of your giveaway, that is.” quote=”When it comes to building your list, size doesn’t matter anymore. Size of your giveaway, that is.”]
What follows is an important guide to the fundamentals of how to build your email list today
Let’s do this…
First – WHY Build An Email List?
Having an email list is about much more than future monetization plans. It is an essential component to building your blog’s traffic.
See, this is an attention business we’re in here. Without the ability to control and direct your reader’s attention on demand, you have little to no real asset.
Without an email list, you would post something and all you can do is hope people notice. In the real world, that would be like a movie studio trying to launch a movie and all they can do is hope people in the theaters happen to notice the new movie and tell their friends. The chances of that happening are pretty low. It is almost comical to even think about it.
On the contrary, when we see movie studios launch their new movies, we see a large advertising-driven launch process. Through paid ads, viral promotion via social media and the stars going on all the talk shows, studios work to build up a lot of buzz for a movie before it ever gets released. They’re building a massive social audience in advance so that when the movie is released, there’s a lot of demand for it.
For us to build audience and leverage, we need to build the email list. It can be used to drive revenue, but even more importantly than that it can be used to drive attention. You can direct that attention to anything you want – even your latest posts.
[clickToTweet tweet=”In today’s world, the ability to direct attention on demand is the name of the game. ” quote=”In today’s world, the ability to direct attention on demand is the name of the game. “]
Without your email list, your blog just sits there as a reactionary medium. The most you can do is cross your fingers and hope people visit your blog.
But, A List Isn’t Just A List…
When we hear this phrase “email list”, it seems like this big monolithic… thing. It sounds rather impersonal and anonymous.
In reality, however, that email list is a collection of people. Real, live people with various interests who have given YOU permission to put things into their inbox.
Like any human being, each of those email subscribers have a number of different interests. The thing that brought them to you most likely isn’t the only thing that interests them.
Even more importantly, even within the context of your own topic, most likely that individual person has a different set of interests or concerns. Not every person who comes to your site will be interested in the same thing.
Case in point, if somebody comes here to the Blog Marketing Academy, the thing most applicable to them at that time might be different. It could be:
- They’re figuring out how to start a blog from scratch
- They’re figuring out how to build their email list
- They’re trying to figure out how to monetize
- They’re trying to get traffic
You also have different experience levels. I have newbies come to this site as well as more advanced marketers. If I talked to an advanced marketer about the basics of how to start a blog from scratch, they’d be bored as hell.
But, whether a newbie or an advanced marketer… whether a person is building a membership site or figuring how out to SEO their blog… BMA is here and I want them on my email list.
So, one email list can include people of varying interests, all within the context of what it is you do. Clearly, a list isn’t monolithic.
So, how do we deal with this?
First Concept: Segmentation
Remember high school? Remember how there were these different groups, clubs or cliques? You’d have the various sports groups, the band, the cheerleaders, the math club… yada yada. Point is, in one huge body of students who attended the same school, you had a number of different groups. What united each group was a common interest or activity.
Now, that same analogy carries over into your email list.
Think of your email list like the student body in a school. Just like there’s different sub-groups of students, you have the same thing on your email list.
The practice of figuring out those groups and actually dividing your list up based on them is called segmentation.
Segmentation of your email list allows you to talk to each subscriber in the context of what they’re most interested in, who they are, what they’ve done, or any number of other factors that you decide are important.
Back to our high school analogy, if I tried to go and talk sports with a guy in the math club, it is going to be tough to make that connection. Makes sense, right? In the world of email marketing, this would be seen in metrics like your open rate or click-through rate. If they’re not opening your email or clicking anything, it is probably because you’re talking sports with the math club guy, so to speak. 🙂
Segmentation of your email list makes everything you send them far more effective. One report from Lyris which asked top marketers their top 3 results by using segmentation, they reported increased open rates, greater relevance and lower unsubscribe rates.
Email segmentation is much simpler than it might seem. The first and foremost way to do it is to simply look at WHERE they entered your list to begin with. What did they opt-in FOR and what does that tell you about them?
Which brings us to the second major concept…
Second Concept: The Lead Magnet
In marketing lingo, we refer to a potential customer as a “lead”. You’ve probably heard that term before.
So, a lead magnet would be something which attracts a lead like a magnet would attract metal.
Your prospect is out there looking for something and/or they have certain interests. The lead magnet is something you create that is designed to be attractive to the kind of person interested in the things you talk about and deliver. It is designed to attract them. For them to get the thing they want, they have to submit their email address. Hence, it is a lead magnet.
This is where we get into the world of giveaway offers, like we started out talking about. However, there’s an important twist here.
More isn’t always better. In fact, many times, less is better.
[clickToTweet tweet=”It isn’t the size of the lead magnet which makes it work.” quote=”It isn’t the size of the lead magnet which makes it work.”]
It isn’t the size of the lead magnet which makes it work. It is the attractiveness of the offer to the person who views it.
What makes a person WANT a lead magnet? It would be things such as:
- Will it solve an immediate problem I have now?
- Does it spark my curiosity?
- Will it give me a shortcut to something I want?
- Will it save me time and effort?
- Will it enable me to fulfill some void or demand immediately?
When a person sees this lead magnet somewhere (in a blog post, on Facebook, in an email, in a tweet, etc.)… if it can answer “YES” to those questions, it has that magnetism that will attract them over. That’s what makes it a lead magnet.
In fact, the ideal lead magnet is one which is designed to attract the right person, not just any person. Specific lead magnets usually work much better than a generic one where you’re trying to cater to your whole audience simultaneously.
This brings us back to the segmentation aspect one more time…
Multiple Lead Magnets Vs. One Lead Magnet
Most bloggers who have gotten to the point of a giveaway offer to entice an email opt-in still only have one main giveaway. That one main giveaway is plastered all over the blog and we hope it will work.
Usually, that one lead magnet is sitting there in the sidebar, on EVERY post and page. It treats everybody exactly the same. And therefore it usually converts poorly.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Typical blog opt-in conversion rates in the sidebar hover less than 1%.” quote=”Typical blog opt-in conversion rates in the sidebar hover less than 1%.”]
But, as we said up above, your audience isn’t monolithic. We have people coming to our blog with varying interests, even if they’re all unified under a larger umbrella of your main topic. On any given day, depending on what that person is dealing with, the lead magnet which will attract them could be different.
For this reason, relying on one central giveaway offer to build your list is foolish, no matter how big it is. In fact, you’re leaving potential subscribers on the table if you do it that way.
[highlight]The most effective way to turn your blog into a list building machine is to have multiple lead magnets.[/highlight]
Each lead magnet is designed to be magnetic to a person with a particular interest or particular problem.
If that person ultimately opts into your list for that lead magnet, it then tells you at least one important data point about them. It tells you their interest.
And this begins to segment your email list.
How Do You Position Multiple Lead Magnets On The Same Blog?
Once we begin talking about multiple lead magnets, a very common confusion is exactly how to present them. After all, we’re used to seeing a lead magnet in the blog’s sidebar. However, that sidebar is universal to the whole blog.
So, how do you present multiple lead magnets?
The answer is to do it in context.
You present the lead magnet which is most contextual and relevant to the person on that page. You present the lead magnet which is the next logical step based on where they’re at.
[clickToTweet tweet=”By presenting a tightly related lead magnet inside the content they’re reading, your conversion rates will skyrocket.” quote=”By presenting a tightly related lead magnet inside the content they’re reading, your conversion rates will skyrocket.”]
The results speak for themselves…
While the sidebar will usually convert at 1% or less, I’ve got contextual lead magnets converting at around 12%. My highest one is 54.78%! It is literally converting 54X the typical blog average!
And all I did was present a contextual lead magnet in the native location.
By “native”, it is taking the idea of context to the next level. Not only is the lead magnet relevant to the person seeing it, but it is also presented in the manner they would expect. This is how native advertising works.
As Wikipedia defines native advertising…
Native advertising is a type of advertising, mostly online, that matches the form and function of the platform upon which it appears.
That’s all we’re doing. We’re presenting our lead magnet in the form and function of the platform in which it appears. And, what is the platform here? The blog. More specifically, the blog content.
The content is what they’re looking at. It is what they’re there for. Not your sidebar. They don’t care about your sidebar at all.
The tool that I use and recommend to do this is Thrive Leads.
Thrive Leads allows me to insert a custom lead magnet form all around this blog post. I can put a conditional form into the sidebar if I wish. I can insert it at the top of the post, the bottom of the post, in the middle of the post. You get the idea.
You can also make 2-step optin forms that your readers can subscribe to as they read your post and it won’t take them away from the post.
But, let’s not forget what we are doing with a tool like this…
- Presenting the lead magnet most relevant to the interest of the person on that page.
- Presenting the lead magnet in a native way to the page and in context of what they’re viewing.
A banner ad is rarely native to a page. It stands out like a sore thumb. It is rarely all that relevant. It is interruption advertising, and our blog visitors have been trained to pretty much ignore banner ads.
Similarly, many blog readers these days have been “trained” to all but ignore the whole blog sidebar. What they pay attention to is the CONTENT. That’s why they’re there.
Applying the two rules, the ideal place for a lead magnet is native to the blog post content. It will be found INSIDE THE CONTENT, and it will be relevant to the interests of the person that blog post is likely to attract. The more relevant it is, the more attractive the lead magnet.
Every blog post on your site is a new opportunity for the placement of a highly relevant lead magnet. The idea of the content upgrade would be the idea that every single blog post would have its own unique lead magnet. That certainly works well, but it isn’t necessary. But, you DO want to place a lead magnet that is highly relevant to the content, even if it is a lead magnet you had previously created.
4 Questions For Turning Your Blog Into A List Building Machine
Let me ask you this…
Why DO you create a blog post?
If you’re like most other bloggers, you create a blog post because you find it interesting and you think others might as well. Plus, you just felt like you should. If you let a few days go by without posting a new one, you feel you’re doing something wrong.
That’s a recipe for burnout. But, that’s a topic for another day. Let’s just turn this on its head here and be more strategic about it.
In the context of content marketing and building our business, we create a new blog post as a way to attract our ideal customer.
That blog post is itself a form of a lead magnet, although in this case we are leading with value without asking for anything in exchange. When and only when they’re ready to take a new step with you, we offer the lead magnet in exchange for their email address.
So, we write a blog post which is DESIGNED to attract a particular kind of person. A person with a particular need or demand. We give them some awesome value for free in that blog post. Then, we provide a “call to action” to opt-in for a highly relevant lead magnet.
The proper process, in abbreviated form, would then be:
- Who do I want to attract to my blog or business?
- What solution can I provide for them that would give them immediate value?
- What blog post can I create for that person?
- What lead magnet will provide them a “take away” value in exchange for their email?
This is blogging and lead magnet creation which is LEAD-FOCUSED, not blog-focused. We’re blogging for a specific reason, not just to fill our archives.
Not Big Lead Magnets… Specific Lead Magnets
So, let’s dispel any myth that a lead magnet has to be some huge thing. If you thought it had to be huge, then the notion of creating a library of them would be daunting as hell.
[clickToTweet tweet=”A lead magnet doesn’t convert due to size, but due to relevancy and instant gratification.” quote=”A lead magnet doesn’t convert due to size, but due to relevancy and instant gratification.”]
There’s a simple list building equation and it goes like this…
Let’s go over those 3 components:
- Curiosity. Your prospect’s internal desire or demand for solution will be the push. Curiosity will be the pull. The best lead magnets contain an element of curiosity about what is contained inside… and the only way to satisfy that hunger is to opt-in and get the lead magnet for themselves.
- Relevancy. The lead magnet has to speak directly to the thing on their mind. It should be directed to their problem, their concern, the thing they came to that blog post looking for.
- Instant Gratification. Your lead magnet should contain an inherent promise of instant results. Courses and challenges don’t have this promise inherent to them because they usually involve a prolonged delivery and a lot of work. It doesn’t mean these kinds of lead magnets never convert, but they’re not ideal as lead magnets. On the other hand, checklists, templates, short tutorial videos, worksheets… these kinds of things contain an inherent promise of instant gratification. When they get it, they feel as if they just landed a shortcut. They’re a little closer now to actually accomplishing what they want and it didn’t require a big bunch of work to do it. THAT’S ideally how they will feel about the lead magnet.
So, that’s your formula.
Now, there are specific criteria that I find work best for lead magnets. Understand, here, that I’m truly looking at this in the literal sense of what a lead magnet is. I’m not looking to attract just anybody. I’m looking to attract a LEAD. A lead would be a potential customer.
So, a lead magnet isn’t just about getting the initial act of subscription. It is also about setting up what is to happen AFTER the subscription. And according to my Blog Monetization Model, what happens after the subscription is to ask for the first sale.
In order for a lead magnet to work as a true LEAD magnet, it has to be highly specific in the kind of person it attracts… then… it has to get out of it’s own way.
If a lead magnet takes a long time to consume, then it holds up any potential sale. Remember that instant gratification is part of the formula for a reason.
So, there are 7 criteria I look for in a successful lead magnet. They are:
- Provides a specific solution for an ultra specific market.
- Promises one big thing (not a ton of things, or something vague)
- Lends itself to a known, specific end result.
- Will give immediate gratification.
- Moves your new lead down a pathway of belief. That belief is that a solution is possible… and that YOU provided it.
- Has a high perceived value (not a fake dollar amount, but valuable in the sense that you just solved a nagging issue for them)
- Can be consumed in just a few minutes.
Now, to hopefully make this clear and help you avoid confusions and common mistakes, let’s talk about some examples…
Examples of Good and Bad Lead Magnets
In working with a lot of bloggers on their list building efforts, I find that a lot of bloggers do OK when it comes to the relevancy portion of the list building formula, however they drop the ball when it comes to curiosity and instant gratification. Plus, they don’t obey the 7 lead magnet criteria.
Some common examples would be things such as:
- “X Tips For ______”. Fill in the blank, but the idea is that it is a PDF with tips. It might be relevant to the target market, but it does little else. “7 Tips” doesn’t promise one big thing. In fact, it promises very little except for “tips”. There’s no specific end result promised. It lacks a high perceived value because it sounds like something you’d see in any blog post. Lists of tips are very common for blog posts. For that reason, it fosters very little curiosity. End result: This lead magnet isn’t going to convert all that well.
- Any Listicle. The word “listicle” is common blogger parlance for a list post. Generally speaking, turning a list post into a lead magnet doesn’t perform super well. It lacks specificity. Basically, everything I just said about the tips lead magnet.
- Mistakes. A lead magnet which points out what they’re doing wrong doesn’t always have the effect you wish. “7 Mistakes….” or something to that effect doesn’t really lend itself to a specific solution or promise anything. The only really inherent promise to it is you’re going to find out how much you suck and how you’ve made stupid mistakes. Don’t create lead magnets which are accusatory. I think a lead magnet should be about moving the lead TOWARD what they want, not looking backwards at their mistakes.
- [INSERT CUTESY TITLE HERE]. You’ve seen them before. Somebody wrote an e-book and gave it some cute tongue-in-cheek title that reads more like a standard book title. This kind of thing is generally a waste of time. Cutesy titles don’t promise anything.
- Free Course. The way most bloggers do free courses as lead magnets doesn’t work all that well. They tend to lack specificity because the courses promises too much. Plus, the idea of a course violates the “instant gratification” criteria.
I should note that there are instances where a free course can work. However, that course needs to be structured in a strategic way if you intend for that lead to actually be a true prospect for anything.
A lot of free courses aren’t fully consumed because the subscriber simply loses interest before it is done. Plus, many people make the mistake of the course simply ending with no strategy of where you wanted to take the person to begin with.
In my view, if you’re bringing in true LEADS, then a free course as a lead magnet could work if you structure it as an evergreen product launch. Essentially, you’re taking the sales process, turning it sideways, and delivering it over time by way of a free course. If you do it that way, it can certainly be an effective lead magnet.
Now, let’s talk about the easiest kinds of effective lead magnets.
The good news is that, generally speaking, good lead magnets don’t have to take long to produce. After all, if you’re promising one big thing and delivering an ultra-specific solution to a specific market, then all you need to do is deliver that one thing and you’re done. It isn’t supposed to be applicable to everybody.
It starts by answering the first 2 questions per above:
- Who do I want to attract to my blog or business?
- What solution can I provide for them that would give them immediate value?
PROBLEM: Running out of blog post ideas.
SOLUTION: A downloadable reference list of common blog post formulas to trigger ideas
LEAD MAGNET: Blog Post Idea Generator
OK, let’s look at some markets that have nothing to do with blogging…
TARGET: People looking to buy an RV
PROBLEM: Confusions and concerns about buying a used RV and getting screwed
SOLUTION: A printable evaluation checklist they can take with them to look at a used RV.
LEAD MAGNET: The Used RV Pre-Purchase Inspection Checklist
This is a lead magnet I personally created on another site. Note how it:
- Provides a specific solution
- Lends itself to one result
- Gives immediate gratification (it is an instant tool they can use, not something they have to learn for a few days)
- It moves them down a pathway of belief… that they CAN purchase an older used RV without getting screwed.
- Has a high perceived value. It solves their worry. Plus, I openly tell them to print it and take it with them to evaluate the RV which makes it much more valuable than just some blog post.
- It can be quickly consumed.
OK, one more…
TARGET: People looking to have a website designed or improved (assuming you’re in the web design business)
PROBLEM: They want their website to look “nice”, but they don’t know what’s working so they have a hard time being specific. Plus, they don’t want to spend too much money.
SOLUTION: A case study of how a small business made certain visual and functional tweaks to their business website and increased sales or conversions by some measurable amount.
LEAD MAGNET: Case Study: How ________ Increased Sales By ___% With 7 Specific Changes To Their Website
First of all, people love case studies. Plus, business owners love seeing what other business owners do and how they do it. The idea of speaking to a specific sales increase makes this lead magnet speak to a specific result which is concrete. Plus, it is a result any business owner wants. They might hear or see fancy things like logos and what looks “nice”, but what really talks is money. Lastly, by talking about “Specific Changes”, we help spike curiosity about what they are. We’re not talking about an entire web re-design necessarily… we’re talking specific changes. Helps reduce cost, too. 😉
I hope what you take from this is that a solid lead magnet idea comes from being specific. It comes from knowing WHO you want to attract and exactly WHAT they are looking for. Then, applying the list building formula and the 7 criteria to massage the concept until it fits the bill.
11 Lead Magnet Format Ideas
With the basic criteria and thought process of a lead magnet in place, let’s talk about the format of it. Here’s some ideas to get the juices flowing…
- Checklists. People love checklists. It is something they can follow and contains the promise of a result.
- Templates. Nothing says “shortcut” like a template. Something they can practically “cut and paste” and get a result with.
- Flow chart. A graphical process not only contains the promise of a result, but it also is attractive to the more visual people in your audience.
- Mind Maps
- Tutorial Videos. Remember, tho, that the point of the video should be to give them a specific solution to a specific problem. If you stick to that, video is a perfectly fine lead magnet.
- Courses or Challenges. Just keep in mind the stuff I said above about this. Courses can work just fine even though it appears to violate the “instant gratification” rule. But, it is all a matter of how you do it.
- Tests or assessments. People freakin’ love these things. A simple self-assessment. And it could come in PDF format. Hell, you could even build in a social component by inviting people to share their scores. Viral list building, anyone?
- Webinars. Webinars can be fantastic lead magnets. It can be a limited-time lead magnet for a live webinar, or you could put it on evergreen and have it always available. The same rules apply to a webinar, however the beauty of a webinar is that it can be a truly awesome sales tool. There’s not a much more effective medium for shortening the sales process and/or moving your lead further down your sales funnel – faster – than a webinar.
- Personal attention. Not really ideal for a lot of blog owners, but if you are in a service business or consulting business, you could have people opt-in for a free strategy session. I would certainly ask for more than an email address in this case, though. You need to qualify people more intentionally in this case so you don’t waste your time on the phone with people who will never buy.
If you need more ideas, we’ve got you covered. Check out our free download: 45 Lead Magnet Ideas.
Planning Your Own Library Of Lead Magnets
I’ve given you a lot to chew on here. Now, it is time to get busy with creating your own army of lead magnets and implementing them on your blog.
First, decide who your ideal potential prospect is. You could have many of them, depending on what products you offer. Even if you are currently in a position where you don’t have products for sale, your blog still brings in people with varying, but related interests. What are they? What are they looking to solve?
For each kind of person you’re attracting, what is it that you could provide to them as a solution that would suit the lead magnet criteria above?
You should have several different answers for different kinds of people coming to your site. For instance, here’s some of the lead magnets I currently have here at the Blog Marketing Academy…
- The Online Business Roadmap – for people trying to put it all together. This is my “flagship” lead magnet for this site.
- Blogger’s Pre-Publish Checklist – for bloggers looking to maximize traffic from their blog posts
- Membership Site Planning Worksheet – for people interested in putting together a membership site
- 90 Day Plan – A “start from scratch” plan aimed at people just getting started to give them a full plan forward.
I have several others in the pipeline, since these aren’t the only kinds of people who come to BMA.
You can also brainstorm these lead magnets based on your blog’s analytics and its structure.
- What are your most popular posts? These are definitely posts you want to put a targeted lead magnet on.
- What is your category/tag structure? You could have a major lead magnet for each category of your blog. Works especially well if your categories are defined strategically.
With a list of lead magnets in mind suitable to your blog, then you go and simply make them. The next issue, however, is placement.
Where do the lead magnets go and how do you place them?
There are 3 main places to consider:
- Your sidebar
- Inside the blog post itself
- On a stand-alone squeeze page
#1 – Placing an Opt-In Into Your Sidebar
You have three main options for your sidebar:
- Choose one universal lead magnet and have that be consistent in your sidebar.
- Use something like Thrive Leads to put contextual opt-ins into your sidebar so that the lead magnet changes based on what post or category they’re looking at.
- Get rid of the sidebar altogether and simply keep their focus on the content.
If you’re going to stick with the standard universal sidebar, then your best bet is to choose one lead magnet that is likely to apply to the most people. Since this lead magnet is going to be appearing on potentially unrelated content, I think it is best to make this lead magnet more of a branding tool to introduce them to you and the value you provide. The topic of the lead magnet should be universal to your overall brand, however the mode of delivery should develop your brand and solidify their relationship with you. This is actually a good place for a “free course” or a “challenge” which you could deliver via VIDEO. Allow them to get to know you by way of real videos where you give them value.
If you want to change out the opt-in for each category, you can use Thrive Leads. You can tailor your opt-ins on a per-category, per-tag, page or post basis. Thrive also has another plug-in called Clever Widgets that can give you fine-tuned control of the widgets in your sidebar.
Lastly, you could simply not have any sidebar. This is a bit of a trend I’m seeing grow out there and I can certainly see the logic behind it – especially if you do a great job of placing highly relevant lead magnets into the content itself. It is the CONTENT people come there for and it is what they’re looking at. Many people barely even notice the blog’s sidebar anymore.
#2 – Inside the Blog Post
This is generally the highest-performing location for a call to action to subscribe for a lead magnet. It is in context with the content itself, both in appearance and relevancy.
You have a few different options on how to present it inside your blog post or page:
- A standard hyperlink to a squeeze page (see below).
- A hyperlink that triggers a two-stage optin box. The box appears over top the content and allows opt-in without leaving the page.
- A full opt-in form right inside the content.
#3 – Stand-Alone Squeeze Page
I think that every lead magnet you produce should have its own squeeze page, which is simply a dedicated page for that lead magnet that invites them to opt-in for it.
Even if you use pop-up optin forms for that same lead magnet elsewhere on your blog, you should still have a squeeze page for it. You can link to it where appropriate or even use it for incoming traffic from your email list or paid traffic.
I am a huge fan (and user) of Thrive Content Builder to make landing pages. Every landing page on this site was built with it.
Remember, your list will have multi-faceted people on it, so even if a subscriber already entered your list from one lead magnet doesn’t mean you can’t offer them a different lead magnet down the road. In fact, this is a stellar re-activation strategy that will make you money if done right.
Tools To Implement Your List Building Strategy
OK, with a general plan worked out, it comes down to execution. How well you can implement your opt-in strategy depends on the tools you use for the job.
First, where do you host your actual email list? There are two solutions that I use and recommend:
- Aweber. For probably 98% of my readers, Aweber is where I recommend you host your email list. I’ve used them for years and they’re one of the best companies out there for this.
- Drip. This is who I’m currently using for the Blog Marketing Academy. It offers advanced followup and sequencing that enables much more targeted marketing than Aweber can currently do. Read more about Drip and my switch to it here.
Since you’re most likely to use Aweber, here’s a few notes about how to set up multiple lead magnets with your Aweber account:
- You’ll create a unique optin form for each lead magnet, and Aweber now has the ability to apply a TAG to the person’s profile whenever they fill in that form. So, you will define a set TAG for each lead magnet you create.
- Each opt-in form inside Aweber also has an “ad tracking” field, and each form can apply that tracking field to each subscriber. This allows you to know where the subscriber originally came from. Now, each subscriber can only have one ad-tracking at a time, however they can have multiple tags. So, I suggest you use TAGS primarily because it is certainly possible that a subscriber may opt-in to a few different lead magnets on your site over time.
- You will use the TAGS to segment your email list so that you can send more targeted emails.
And, once again, in terms of the actual opt-in forms… I’ve already mentioned that I use and recommend Thrive Leads.
Your Next Steps…
Whew! I truly hope this mega-post has done a good job of spelling out the list building strategies that are working now.
But, reading about it and actually doing it are very different things. Now is the time to put this stuff into practice on your blog and begin building your email list faster than ever before.
The quantity of traffic you can command – as well as the revenue you generate each month – will be contingent on how effectively you are building your list.
Inside The Lab, we have several courses geared toward building your list, including Creating an Effective Lead Magnet. We’ve got the course Email Marketing Engine for everything that happens after they’ve subscribed.
And, of course, to do everything in the right order while avoiding overwhelm, you can get started with The Online Business Roadmap. There’s much more than list building there, but it will help you assemble everything in the right order so that you have a fully functioning online business.
This is an incredible post, thank you. I’m just starting out with my website so not too much traffic yet. Should I wait for a certain amount of traffic before I set up an email list?
No, you should begin on your email list from day one.
Very nice, I usually put several blogs posts in 1 ebook as a “XXX tips for XXX”, which help me to create relevant bonus to my main sections.
But I wont use aweber in that case as a web site visitor that subscribes to 3 lists will count as 3 billed emails.. which can cost a lot.
I would prefer use other tools like get response that count only emails not emails in lists 🙁
Very informative post over here 🙂
E-mail list is something we all bloggers are blessed with. It can surely boost up our sales to the sky but if its done correctly.
The main problem that every one faces is, they get trouble, how to convert leads into sales.
I am pinning this down, so that I can take lessons from it.
Thanks for the share.
I just bought the Gravity Forms plugin for WordPress. I see it’s not listed above; but I feel it could have a lot of potential for creating on-blog opt-in forms. Hopefully this was a wise move. – ?
With the add-on, sure, it could do it. It does a hell of a lot more than that, tho. 🙂
Great stuff David and very timely. I am planning my business goals for next year and do a lot of Facebook marketing in my new Facebook community https://www.facebook.com/mydogisawesomefans. I plan to build one new opt-in every month for the next twelve months. That should give me some good data on what people want in my niche. Thanks for posting this!
i thin the problematic issue is how to make your list convert. the methods to bring sign ups are on every blog. how to make your subscriber engaged, how to make him*her trust you enough to buy what you’re selling.
That is certainly important as well, however don’t gloss over the issue of getting them to subscribe in the first place. Most blogs convert quite poorly in that regard.
Too right! It is easier said than done for many. I think on the whole this is because it’s a little frightening for some people. I know it was for me. Would anyone want to read anything I sent them? If they did, would they feel let down by what they got in return for their email?
And, often people who do take the plunge into building their list are doing so because they heard it was something to do but they don’t quite know what they’re doing, or what they want out of building a list.
Once I got how important it is [for example, more important than a blog – it’s your community and income source] I took the plunge. And did so without having a blog yet, just a simple opt-in page. And no offer yet either. After several months I have a list of 15! Yeah, only 15, but a lot of people struggle to get that many subscribers with a blog.
What’s helped me grow this list is just finding a real-world need that David talks about. Then offering real-world solution through relationship-building. Then giving something outstanding that continues to give my solution to their problem. And learning from others who continually serve their list. Talking of which, thanks for some great ideas David, for doing this here – not just for opt-in offers but for keeping subscribers involved.
And it does take a lot of work and effort too.
Good advice on the 20% rule. If only small businesses and websites spent half that, they’d be seeing nice results. The fact is, most don’t spend that much time truly, deeply focusing on how to improve their website with regards to attracting email subscribers. I work in the wine industry and help a lot of winery websites with this very thing – I wrote a similar article as yours about it on my blog (http://bit.ly/1bgvtjn). Optinskin and Magic Action Box are really great, as are popup subscribe forms in general. It’s all about the messaging and what value you’re actually providing the user in that context. That’s where creativity comes in.
I point out how some wineries often have a sold out product, and they should put a “let me know when it’s back” type signup on these pages. 9/10 do not do this, but it’s a small example of how to inject your site with little listbuilding hooks; you just need the right message in the right context. You can also use the Advanced Custom Fields plugin to pretty easily create optin forms for certain post categories, although MAB is really much easier. I’ve used Optinskin before, and find it does very well.
Great suggestions, Mike. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Split test your opt-in forms. Using Hybrid Connect, I was able to split-test my opt-in form text AND colors and eventually increase my opt-in rate. Let me put it this way….WHAT YOU THINK LOOKS GREAT MIGHT NOT WORK GREAT. Split-test and find out what does work.
Good advice, and yeah, yet another reason to use some kind of plug-in for things like this.
Really good post, thank you! I’ve fallen into the trap of thinking I need a HUGE giveaway and that meant it took far longer to get it out there than it should have done. The concept of having a giveaway that arouses curiosity rather than one that’s just big is really helpful. I’m just about ready to create a new giveaway and I’ll definitely refer to your ideas in this post when I start work on it.
My best list-building idea is to get a pop-up. I avoided them for a couple of years because I hated them, but they do work.