10 Ways to Build Your Email List Fast

Vinay Koshy

Vinay Koshy

Published on

December 14, 2015

Are you confused about how to go about growing your email list?

Does the fact that hardly anyone subscribes frustrate you? Are you weighing up whether increasing your social media following would be better?

Consider this.

According to Jon Cifuentes from his study of 1300 marketers, email marketing still provides the best ROI. In fact, he found mid-sized business on average enjoy a 246% ROI from email marketing. Mike May of MediaPost’s Email Insider came to a similar conclusion. He says for every $1 business spend on email marketing they generate $40 in ROI.

Want to enjoy such ROI?

If so, the real question is - how can you build your list fast? What tactics do you need to apply?

There is a lot of information about tactics, and much of it is good. But using tactics alone will not yield much by way of results. You need to use tactics in a strategic way based on your desired outcomes.

It’s important to look at strategies and some key components to it first. This will help set yourself up to successfully build your email list fast.

Strategies that can be applied to any business or blog

The long game

This is a strategy that runs counter to building your email list fast. But it is worth looking into. Most companies use this strategy by default because it costs them nothing extra. This isn’t a bad method. The only downside being that it takes time.

Sites like Digital Photography School have built their audience with this strategy.

It is a strategy that works well over time as you build traffic, apply SEO techniques, guest post, etc. A few hours a week to creating content is all that it takes.

Focused Bursts

This is a strategy that works well in short bursts of time like in putting on a webinar, doing a joint venture, etc. In other words, these activities have a definite end point. So you can set aside time on your calendar to focus on this exclusively.

Nathalie Lussier, for example, runs the 30-day list building challenge. She runs the challenge for a defined period with social sharing components to attract a bigger audience.

30 day email list building challenge

John Corcoran runs webinars on a regular basis. Both he and his guests benefit from the increased exposure while also building each other’s email list.

John Corocoran

The big launch

This is a strategy you may have seen already. You may have noticed this whenever a new product or offer is launched. Most conversations in the industry especially the marketing industry are abuzz with it.

It works because it captures the attention of the intended audience. But it takes a lot of time to prepare, to be seen and heard everywhere for a sustained period. It also means taking the time to get your value proposition and positioning right. All while creating the best course or product you can.

Marie Forleo’s B-school and Derek Halpern’s courses are just a couple of examples of these.

Zippy Courses

The combination

To build your email list fast consider using a combination of the above three strategies. You can use this to go into new verticals or build out your list in your primary vertical.

This approach works well if you have done some previous work to build your list. It allows you to get specific in how you serve people.

Bryan Harris does this quite well as does Pat Flynn.

Essential elements of any email list building strategy

There are three key components to any strategy you choose. These are:

  • Sign up with an email marketing provider
    Select an email marketing provider that can deliver your emails in bulk and provide analytics. MailChimp or Aweber are options you could use if you are just starting out.
  • Create a clear value proposition
    Your email opt-in should communicate clearly what you are offering and how it will benefit your reader. So be sure it addresses:
  • your desired audiences problems
  • In a way and language that they understand
  • what you can do to help them.
  • Get your offer right
    Your lead magnet or opt-in incentive needs to be the right offer.Why?So most visitors will agree to give you their email address to continue the conversation with you. For this to happen, your offer needs to address a particular problem that your audience faces. One that they want to be solved asap.

Ten tactics to build your email list fast:

Scout out the best locations.

Have you identified the best places on your site for your opt-in forms? The fact is that most sites don’t convert well because they don’t have opt-in forms placed in vantage locations.

This doesn’t mean that you need to plaster forms in every available spot. Aim for a balance between the user experience and your site's objectives.

How to leverage the best locations?

  • Consider creating opt-in forms at these places - feature box, the bottom of the article, at the top of the sidebar and a specific landing page for email sign ups.
  • Create forms on what you believe are the best locations.
  • Use a tool like hotjar and your analytics to see which converts best
  • A/B test locations and offers to see which resonates best with your audience

Don’t just stop with a post

Keep readers engaged and turn them into subscribers with content upgrades. Content upgrades are a form of complementary content. They are unique to your post and given away for free in exchange for your visitors email address.

For example, let’s say you had a post on the growing tomatoes. A content upgrade could be a checklist on testing and preparing the soil for growing tomatoes.

Clay Collins of LeadPages introduced the idea of content upgrades with great success. Brian Dean has seen a 785% increase in email opt-ins with content upgrades. Bryan Harris says he has had conversion rates on average 20-30% and as high as 62%.

Why do they convert so well?

Because they are –

  • Specific
  • Relevant and related to what the reader was reading
  • Useful in that it helps with implementation.

Here are a few ideas for content upgrades that you could implement:

  • List of resources/tools
  • Provide more related content
  • Provide transcripts of podcasts or videos
  • Provide a quick start guide
  • Provide a checklist for successful implementation
  • Provide a downloadable asset like templates, designs, customizable landing pages, etc.
  • A printable sheet of steps that they take with them or place near their computer
  • Access to a webinar on related content

Show off your expertise

Have you noticed that your older content gets forgotten as you produce more new content?

How can you bring attention to older content in an appropriate manner?

Consider creating hub pages.

Benefits also include gaining more search engine visibility and getting more email subscribers. Moz and Copyblogger both have created hub pages that do just this.

Moz Search Marketing

How can you create hub pages?

  • Establish a hub page around an important topic to your audience
  • Link to your best content on that topic
  • Include an opt-in box for continual updates.

Encourage sharing

Consider leveraging in email social sharing. Most people send emails out to drive traffic back to their site. They do this in the hope that it generate shares that bring in a bigger audience. But why not allow people to share from the emails they read?

GetResponse conducted a study on adding social sharing buttons within emails. They found that by adding social sharing options the click through rate (CTR) increased to 6.2% from 2.4%.

Average Email CTR

Let's say your subscribers don’t read the complete articles before sharing. Even in that scenario, each share could bring in new traffic. That in turn means more potential subscribers.

Give them what they want

People are likely to fill out more web form fields for contests than to subscribe to a newsletter as seen here. The beauty about giveaways is that if done right it can attract many more people and email subscribers.

What could a giveaway do for you?

Bryan Harris used a giveaway and got 2,239 emails in 10 days. Josh Earl acquired over 60,000 emails with his giveaway in a similar time frame.

Whole foods market ran a giveaway like the one below

whole foods market

Go Pro has set up an awards page.

GoPro Awards

They promote it on social media like so

GoPro Facebook

And make a big deal of winners, like this Facebook post.

GoPro Award Winner

How can you leverage giveaways?

  • Determine if a contest is appropriate for your business. Determine what you want to accomplish from the giveaway before you begin promoting.
  • Select prizes that take your desired audience into consideration. Speak to their needs, interests and desires.
  • Make the process of joining up simple
  • Use automation as much as possible. Consider using tools like Heyo, ShortStack, Rafflecopter or KingSumo.
  • Be sure to spread the word and encourage others to do so as well
  • Stay engaged past the launch with those who have signed up and those who haven’t as yet.
  • Let your audience know who has won and make a big deal of it.

Create a prominent feature

Most high-traffic websites have a featured opt-in incentive. This opt-in incentive isn’t linked to any post. However, it is advertised on at least one prominent location on their site.

It is a simple yet efficient way to maximise exposure to a single piece of content you have developed.

Andrea Vahl’s blog, for example, features a free Quick Start Guide to Social Media for business.

Andrea Vahl

How to leverage featured opt-ins to grow your email list

  • When visitors land on your web page, they ask themselves a question - What’s in it for me? Does your email opt-ins answer the question?
  • Think of your offer as a showcase before they ever spend money with you. Ensure that it doesn’t fall short of expectations and delivers on promises.
  • Consider how your audience prefers to consume content. Provide your content in their preferred formats.
  • Consider creating a new offer from time to time. This will help convert casual readers and visitors into email subscribers.

Show people what they value

A study published in the Wall Street Journal found that social proof was a powerful driver of human behaviour. Positive social proof was valued more by people. In fact valued more than saving money or saving the environment.

Researchers used four different messages to get people to use fans instead of air conditioning. These included -

  1. Informing the customer that they could be saving $54/month on their utility bill.
  2. Telling customers that they could prevent the release of 262 pounds of greenhouse gasses every month.
  3. Informing and reminding customers that saving energy was a socially responsible thing to do.
  4. Let customers know that 77 percent of their neighbours were already actively using fans to save energy.

Of these, the last message was found to be the most effective.

Similar forms of proof can be found on some sites.

Take Gideon Shalwick’s site for example. It has the number of subscribers displaying on his opt-in form. It only helps visitors believe that what Gideon shares has got to be good if he has such a large following.

Gideon Shalwick

Will Hoekenga uses influencer testimonials to provide social proof in the following manner.

Influencer Testimonials

How do you leverage social proof to your benefit?

  • Showcase the number of followers you have
  • Display customer testimonials
  • Showcase the number of customers
  • Showcase the number of projects or jobs you have completed
  • Showcase awards, press mentions and industry recognition
  • Leverage reviews

Partner with influencers

Would you love to partner with an influencer that already has a large, responsive list? If yes then consider offering your services in exchange for a plug on their list.

Take for example email marketing expert Ben Settle. He exchanged six press releases for a few mentions in a month, in an influencer’s popular newsletter.

How can you partner with influencers?

  • Consider following a course or strategies that experts offer and then becoming a “case-study” of its effectiveness.
  • Consider working with others to expand your collective influence. This could work well with those who are at a similar level of influence.
  • Engage in influencer outreach by building genuine relationships.
  • Propose a joint venture – ebook, webinar, etc. Since you don’t have a list leverage something else. For example your expertise, traffic to your site or your social media following, etc.

Create tailored experiences

Do you use webinars to get email subscribers?

If not, consider these results.

Buzzsumo has experienced conversion rates of 20% with their webinars. Neil Patel has tested some variations on webinars and seen conversion rates of 3-25% depending on what is being sold and price points. Taki Moore conducts webinars that convert at 21%.

taki moore webinar

Why do they work?

  • Webinars can be used in just about every stage of the sales funnel
  • According to ReadyTalk, the average webinar attendance rate is 40 – 50% of registrants.
  • According to the Content Marketing Institute over 60% of marketers are using webinars as part of their content marketing programs
  • You don’t need to invest in a slick production. A Powerpoint or Prezi will help get the message across
  • It’s fairly intimate, allowing you to nurture relationships and generate leads in a personal manner
  • It can be tailored for different sorts of sales and marketing objectives
  • They enable you to be seen as a thought leader in your industry to customers and prospects

How can you leverage webinars to increase email subscribers?

  • Choose a topic that has the potential of being found by search
  • Choose a webinar provider
  • Choose a convenient time for your audience
  • Create a landing page for your webinar
  • Add a short video describing what people will learn in the webinar
  • Draw up a promotion plan
  • Create a presentation that educates and entertains
  • Practice your webinar before hand
  • Be sure to remind people about the webinar
  • Interact with your audience
  • Thank them
  • Ask them to opt-in for additional resources

Show up with a gift

Guest blogging is about presenting your content in front of readers of other blogs. A bit like showing up at a friends house with a gift.

This is also an excellent tactic in getting high-quality inbound links to your site. But also increasing visibility and growing your email list.

Bamidele Onibalusi used this strategy to increase his site’s search traffic by 342.35% in a year. He wrote 31 guest posts for blogs with mid-level authority. The campaign took all of one week and had an ongoing positive impact on a site that was barely a year old at the time.

Jon Cooper of Point Blank SEO, guest posted on YouMoz. The article got syndicated 30-40 times, got 60-80 links to his site, and he gained 60 RSS subscribers - a 400% increase!

How to leverage guest blogging to grow your list-

  • Provide one-off contributions to niche or well-known websites.
  • Reach out to editors with short, sharp emails
  • Create a high-quality post that benefits the blog’s audience.
  • Make it easy for editors to publish your article.
  • Ensure your post meets the blogs style and editorial guidelines
  • If you are comfortable with guest posting – you can get a regular column on a well-known site
  • Consider syndicating your content.

Get Building

The tactics covered, are just a few things you can implement to grow your email list. They aren’t complicated or difficult to implement. To be effective, they do need to have a strategy in place. Approach growing your email list building from as many angles as you can with the context of your overall strategy.

As people join your list, you can nurture them with more content and offers that allow you to convert leads into customers.

Have you tried any of these strategies if so how did they turn out? Did you use a tactic I didn’t mention? Share your experiences in the comment section below.

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