You’ve heard it. Money is in the list. Almost a cliche now, but still an online marketing philosophy that couldn’t be truer. You probably know that already, since you are reading this list building guide (how to build an email list in 2020)
It’s an effective low-cost way of delivering your brand and marketing message to your current subscribers and customers. However, your email marketing strategy is only as effective as the greatness of your list. If your link building strategy was a sham then your list is likely to be scant on information, redundant and off-track
Use the table of content below to jump to specific sections of the article. I'll cover:
What is a high-quality email list?
A high-quality email list is a list comprising of email addresses of people representing your target audience. These are people who will benefit from your blog, product, and services. You want to market your products to people who actually care about them, and are likely to purchase from you hence list building a high-quality email list is crucial.
27 List Building Tips: How to Build an Email List Fast for Beginners and Advanced Learners
Since you’ve now set everything ready, it’s time we start promoting your lead magnets. There are several list building strategies that will help you to grow your list faster and we have discussed a number of them in this post.
1: Create Category Based Op-tin Offers
If your blog structure is well defined, then chances are you have already segmented your readers into three or four major categories. For instance, while we have over 15 categories in this blog, we have only four main categories: Online Business, Make Money, Marketing Skills, Productivity and Tools & Tech.
The rest are subcategories for these main categories. We could then create 5 different opt-in offers for these different reader profiles and increase conversions (P.S: We actually implementing this)
To display this, you could make use of Thrive Clever Widgets and set the five different widgets to display for the different categories.
2: Adopt Minimalism Website Design
Your website should serve three purposes at most:
Guide your readers to:
- Download your lead magnet
- Read Your blog posts
- Connect with you on social media
Therefore, you should remove any clutter content that does not help your site to achieve the objectives above as they are likely to dwindle your email list building strategies
3: Create a Squeeze page for your lead magnet.
This is a dedicated landing page for your freebie. You should briefly discuss what your readers will get if they download your freebie. Include share buttons so that people can share them with their friends on various social media platforms.
Looking for inspiration? You can have a look at the one we created for our free eCourse
4: Grow Your List with Facebook Groups
Harness the power of Facebook groups to generate quality traffic to your blog. Facebook groups are powerful since members are already interested in a particular topic. Therefore, you need to join groups under your particular niche and be of great help to other members.
Let them know that you are currently working on a lead magnet that will help them accomplish 1, 2, 3… and notify them you launch it. It’s always effective to build anticipation from the word go.
Once you have your freebie and a dedicated landing page, share it with the members in all the relevant groups you are in. Briefly explain what they will get for free, and of course that (you are afraid that this freebie may not be free forever).
Create the urge of urgency.
5: Harness the Power of Pinterest
Pinterest is a great way to get targeted subscribers. The key elements of a successful pin are:
- Great Call to Action
- Great Headline
- Great Design
If you have a scheduler, schedule your pin to go out to various boards on a daily basis. Also, add a pinnable image on your landing page and ask readers to share the freebie on Pinterest, or rather, pin it for future reference.
6: Embed Opt-in forms and Images on your website
Your readers should never look for your opt-in forms. They should be clear from the word go. Design great opt-in forms using your mailing platform or plugins such as Mailmunch, and embed them on your website.
At The Penny Matters, we use Mailerlite because it is super easy, affordable and enables us to automate most of the processes.
Some of the places to display your opt-in forms include:
- About Us page
- At the end of every post
- Within every blog post
7. Create a Free Online Tool or Resource
A one-page checklist does its magic, but you bet it’s not as effective as a free tool that people can actually use to solve their day to day problems. Some of the most effective business tools that expert bloggers have created for lead generation include SEO analyzers, visual content such as infographics, website speed analyzers, website downtime checkers, business names generators, mockup generators etc.
While tools require a substantial investment of time, money and other resources, they are evergreen lead generation tools that will serve your business for decades to come. A good tool is one that solves the problem of your readers and is therefore relevant to your niche
8: Add engagement features to your YouTube Videos.
Adding annotations at the end of your videos will help you guide your viewers on what to do next. Since you to leverage your viewers for list building, you want to send them to a free resource that’s relevant to your video content. To do this, simply add CTA to an end screen
From your video manager page, click on the EDIT button for the particular video you wish to add the annotations. A drop-down menu appears. Click on the Edit Screen & Annotations. This will open up a popup with four different elements that you can add:
- Video/Playlist: This allows you to promote a related video or a playlist
- Subscribe element: Asks viewers to subscribe to your channel
- Channel: Helps you to promote another YouTube Channel
- Link: Helps you link to an external link to one of your approved websites. This is the element you want to add to the end of your videos that will link to your freebie landing page
9: Create Content Upgrades
Content upgrades help you turn each and every blog post into an email list building tool. Content upgrades are highly-specific content focused offers in exchange for email addresses. Content upgrade email opt-ins convert consistently higher than generic opt-ins since they meet the needs of the current reader of your content.
A content upgrade is created specifically for a single blog post. Thus it’s specific, relevant and useful. Just like other lead magnets, content upgrades can be delivered in various formats and forms. Remember the bonus content you are offering to your readers for taking an extra step should be actionable and useful. Good content upgrades are checklists, action plans, and workbooks.
10: Do a Strategic Guest Posting.
What if you can leverage someone else’s audience to grow your email list? A great guest posting strategy can swoop your email list off the ground. To build your list with guest posts, you need to take time to intelligently select websites to target, generate RELEVANT content ideas and start pitching.
A good guest post idea is one that targets a very specific group of people. This means content idea that only suits a particular niche. And since you are hoping to build your list, your content idea should complement what your lead magnet is about. The two, lead magnet on your website and the content idea for your blog posts should all be housed under the same niche/topic.
Taking the time to learn how to pitch your guest post is very critical. The tips that we share in our cold emailing guide are very critical.
Once you’ve landed your awesome guest posting opportunity, write something better than your normal posts, and then make it five times even better. If your guest post is awesome enough, the website owner will be excited to promote it further, hence more eyeballs on your post and consequentially more visits to your squeeze page. Use our content writing guide to deliver awesomeness to your readers and guest-posting partners
Also, ensure you mention your free resource at the end of your article. Making it even exclusive for that site’s visitors can boost click-throughs.
11. Talk about your lead magnet as you would if you were a published author.
This works if you’ve put your heart and soul into your freebie. If it’s good enough, you’ll find it easier telling everyone how your free resource can benefit them. Some of the ways you can do this include:
- Telling your friends and family members if they are interested in what you do
- Including a link on your business card e.g. bneur.com/book
- Including a link on all your other printables, brochures, flyers, etc.
- Talking about it in forums and Facebook groups.
- Mentioning it while answering quizzes on Quora
- Mention it when doing radio, and TV interviews
- Mention it on your podcasts and YouTube videos
12. Design a highly converting squeeze page for each of your lead magnets.
While it’s good to have popups here and there as well as embed forms below your posts, having a page dedicated to seducing your readers to joining your list is important and way more effective. These pages usually convert way higher than your other forms.
A good squeeze page employs minimalist web design, tells a story, identifies a problem and suggests a proven solution that can be accessed by entering their email addresses. If you have other freebies as well, you need to create separate squeeze pages for each of them.
Squeeze pages should have short URLs for easy sharing. For instance, if you have a free lead market on 89 Ways to Get More Traffic in 2020, a simple URL like bneur.com/traffic should do. Short URLs, especially one-word extensions are effective for sharing on audio interviews as people can easily remember and access your website
13. Craft Powerful Headlines for Your Freebies.
A simple signup form is all it takes to convince someone to join your list. This embedded feature is composed of nothing more than a headline, a visual, description and the form itself which usually comprises of First Name, email address, and a Submit button.
The main selling point is thus your headline. Here lies your selling proposition. Every word that goes into your headline is critical. It’s the make or break of your list building strategies.
Revisiting the resource suggested above, 89 Ways to Get More Traffic in 2019, we can tell this is a compelling selling point for bloggers looking to grow their blog traffic. The figure 89, proves a sense of length and usefulness, while the year 2019, brings the sense of relevancy. We can make it better by introducing another power word such as Proven, Working, Genuine, etc.
What about the following?
89 Proven Ways to Grow Your Blog in 2019. Learn How I Got 341,677 unique visits last month.
14. Manual Signup-Sheets at Events
Attend an event in your area that is relevant to your industry. You might need to have four or five ambassadors to help you in your brand awareness strategy. Most events have exhibitions, so you might need to book a tent. With a good event and a great networking strategy that is properly implemented, you will be able to have at least 500 contacts at the end of the day. These actually qualify as leads as they took time to listen to what your business is all about before consenting to receive notifications, hence the possibility of a higher conversion rate.
You can also organize monthly or semi-annual events in your area. This way you will be able to earn money from tickets as well as have a pool of potential customers in your attendance list. Events also help boost your local brand and enhance your credibility in your industry.
15. Grant access to your Pinterest Board
Pinterest Group Boards are great opt-in offers that you can use to help build you with your list building strategy
A great way to go about this is to build a great group board on a particular niche, a niche that is narrow but broad enough to accommodate the readers of your blog. On this website, we run Online Business Ideas, a group that suits everyone from freelancers, designers, coaches to online entrepreneurs.
The next step is to create a dedicated landing page about your board, rules to be followed if any and the types of pins to be pinned. Then you embed a signup/join now button that prompts the reader to enter their email addresses and a link of their Pinterest accounts. By submitting their info to join your board, they consent to receive info from your blog with unsubscribe options. This is a disclaimer you need to include on the landing page or the signup form.
You will then need to manually add them to your board as it deems fit. You may want to tag people who sign up through this landing page or form with an appropriate tag such as [Pinterest +name of the board], for easier segmentation. A good email service provider such as ConvertKit makes it easier to do so.
16. Grant People Access to Your Private Facebook Group.
This works like Pinterest Group Boards above. People want to be part of Facebook groups run by experts as they are usually well managed and jam-packed full of helpful content and sharing. So they wouldn’t mind opting in to be added
17. Organize a Giveaway
Giveaways are great with quantity rather than quality. However, if done correctly, you can benefit from both the quantity as well as the quality.
The main success of a giveaway lies with the worthiness and relevancy of the prizes. Some of the prizes you can giveaway include your premium eBooks, premium courses, coupons and discounts, apparels, software, money, etc.
To run these giveaways successfully, you need to use a service like Kingsumo Giveaways which helps you track shares and award points accordingly.
18. Blog consistently.
This works in building your email list in two ways. First, the more you blog, the more visitors you attract, the credible your site gets, the more loyalty and trusts it earns and consequentially the higher conversions rates. Secondly, blogging consistently means you are always churning out better content that your readers won’t want to miss, hence an incentive in itself so join your email list.
Have an editorial calendar and stick to it. Having blog posts written and planned out in advance is a great way to never lack behind. Most bloggers are always three or more months ahead of their content plans. You want to join the ride.
19. Leverage the power of testimonials in your op-tin pages and forms.
Think this way:
You just visited a website which you’ve never heard before. The site is about the topics you curious about and the first blog post you read wowed you. You want to learn more from this blogger but is she worthy of a space in your already populated and messy Gmail inbox? Well, she is not Seth Godin, so you don’t have a direct answer to that. But then, somewhere on the website, you see a great testimonial about this blogger from Seth Godin and immediately you are convinced that the giveaway that this blogger is giving is actually worth it, and so you opt-in.
Well, you might not get a testimonial from Seth anytime soon, but a great testimonial from your subscriber is equally good. A great testimonial is honest and useful. It outlines a pain point and how the site or freebie helped the person achieve a particular result.
20. Share Your Freebie on Social Media.
Sales are made on social media because that’s where people hang around on. If you publish a new book today, you would want everyone on Facebook to know. That’s the excitement you should have with your new lead magnet.
Share your lead magnet on Facebook pages and groups as well as Pinterest. Create social media-specific graphics for your freebie using tools like Canva and PicMonkey. If you have your own established Facebook group, you may want to build anticipation beforehand, by telling members that you are working on your free 7 days course on how to go about Xyz, or a book on ABC, or a checklist for…. Then on the day of launching make the big announcement and you’ll see increase in downloads.
21. Promote Your Lead magnet with Facebook Ads.
We all like to cut down our costs, but sometimes spending a little can mean tremendous results. Facebook ads are worth it in the long run. You want to start with a smaller budget and keep experimenting until you find Facebook ads strategy that works for you. For Facebook ads to work well, you need to have a captivating headline, a striking visual and a promising landing page that is short and to the point. You want also to target people that are interested in your topic
22. Optimize your About Us Page
This is one of your most visited pages on your website. Since someone is visiting your About page, it’s safe to assume that they already like your brand and they are interested in knowing more about you, who you are and what you do. There are similarities that you share, otherwise, they wouldn’t be bothered at all. Giving them a give away to opt-in at this very point is critical.
A great lead magnet fulfills this checklist
Melyssa does this with a subtle touch:
23. Leverage Your Competitors Best Conversion Tools
You have to stay relevant and productive. By using better tools, your competitors have a competitive hedge. The good news is, you can actually inspect which tools they are using with the Inspect Element.
If that sounds tech complicated for you, a tool like BuiltWith can come handy. You only need to insert the URL of the site you want to inspect and this program will list all the tools that the site is built with. You can then see which ones aid them in conversion and see if they are worth acquiring them for your website
Here is a complete list of list building tools that you can use to grow your email list gradually
24. Have a Strategic Landing Page Funnel
The Idea behind Landing Page Funnel (LPF) is to ensure that your website visitors get to visit your most optimized pages (squeeze pages) for conversion. These are pages of your website that have freebies and have proven to convert at higher rates than other pages.
The easiest way to get eyeballs on your most converting page is by featuring it on your homepage and adding a button that links to it on your primary menu. This is one of the secrets that has helped Backlinko build a list of over 140,000 subscribers.
25. Optimize Your Confirmation Email
If you use double-opt-in (recommended), you will notice that you will have quite a number of email addresses in your unconfirmed section. Well, that happens because life happens. However, by optimizing your confirmation email you can reduce that number substantially.
You want to personalize your headline if possible. A headline like “Tasha, Welcome to Your 7 Days Blogging Course” will have higher open rates than, “Blogging 101”
Your confirmation button should be bold and centrally located, well above the fold. If your confirmation email is long, you can consider adding another confirmation link towards the end of your email.
One strategy that works really well is making the download link of your freebie in your email act as a confirmation link. Your subscribers will see something like:
Thanks so much for joining our Bneur community, where small ideas become big companies. As I promised, your free 37 List SEO checklist is ready for download.
Wanting to know me more? Don’t worry, tomorrow I’ll send you everything I did to turn my tiny idea into a blossoming online business and how you too can.
26. Design Your Website to Convert
Every creative need an empire to inspire. Email lists give you a way to directly communicate with your readers. Your fans. Your website’s main goal should thus be to convert your readers into subscribers. A good web design does that. To achieve that, a few tweaks are necessary:
- Have a prominent call to action on the homepage with a relevant highly converting op-tin
- Strategically organize your primary navigation, adding a button that leads to your freebie
- Placing a subscription form at the top of your sidebar, making it prominent
- Making the overall design of your website friendly, mobile optimized and using readable font types and sizes.
27. Make Your Landing Pages Highly Converting.
It’s one thing to create a squeeze page, and it’s another making that page serves its purpose. Creating a highly converting landing page is an art, something that takes time to be mastered. It comprises both skillful design and copywriting prowess.
A highly converting landing page comprises of a primary headline, a tagline(subheading), a description, bulleted benefits of the freebie, a 3D representative visual of your lead magnet, form fields (first name and email address), a call to action (CTA) social proof (testimonials) and a headshot and short description about you.
Whoa! This is perhaps the longest blog post I’ve written in years. List building from scratch is quite a demanding task, but it’s doable and you can do it.
Let me know what are your thoughts about these tips on how to build an email list, and if you have your favorite ways that I didn’t mention here in the comments section below