I have never truly appreciated the importance of building an email list until I started Magnet4Blogging, seriously!
Of course I’ve always known that it was important, but I never paid much attention to it. As a matter of fact, when I started blogging some 5 years ago, I wasn’t remotely interested in list building, I thought I’d get to it eventually, which I did. What I was more focused on at the time was getting search engine traffic and lots of it, and writing purely for Google, and for a while this worked.
What then followed in 2012, Google unleashed Panda and Penguin, and they mercilessly destroyed my blog, and the obvious result? I lost virtually all organic traffic from Google.
As I said I didn’t pay much attention to list building back then, so I didn’t have much of an email list to fall back on, at most I had about 60 or so subscribers, pretty appalling considering I ran that blog for almost 3 years, and generated a total of 390,000 visits and 500,000 page views.
When I started this blog Magnet4Blogging in 2013, (I didn’t actually write the first post until March of 2014), the first thing that I did before creating any content, was to set up my opt-in forms through MailChimp (aff), and creating my opt-in pages.
I’ve also been learning as much as I could about list building and doing email marketing properly, as I felt this was an area I needed to improve on a bit more.
From March of 2014 up until November, I was averaging around 6 or 7 subscribers per month at the most, not a great amount, but they were targeted peeps.
In December of 2014 however I literally exploded my email opt-in rate. That month I managed 42 new subscribers, and in January 2015 another 35 new signups, and February looks like is going to be another awesome month as well.
In comparison to what I’d been doing previously, this was much better right?
Here’s the proof from my MailChimp account of those two great months, December and January.
Finally I thought, after learning where I was going wrong, tweaking here and there, experimenting and testing with this and that, I was able to create a reasonably powerful combination to reel in more targeted email subscribers in just two months, than I was able to muster in most of 2014.
As you can see from the image screen shot above, December and January were really impressive months in comparison to the rest. I know what you’re thinking, this is a shot of “all lists”, what about just Magnet4Blogging? Well here they are:
The above screen capture shows subscribers to my regular list with my smarter blogging eBook incentive, a slight increase right?
The above screen capture shows subscribers to a brand new list I created in December, in conjunction with a new incentive that I was giving away, I’ll talk more about that in tactic 5.
Growing an email list does NOT happen overnight
Before I dive into this post further, if you’re just starting to build your email list, I just want you to know that growing an email list takes time, it’s not something that happens instantly overnight or over a few weeks or months even.
If you work hard at it, keep making small changes and track your progress all the time, you’ll make small leaps and bounds and eventually get to build yourself a healthy email list. It’s really worth the time and effort. It’s all about finding what really works.
At the time of publishing this post, Magnet4Blogging has approximately 230 active subscribers and growing, not impressive by far I know, but the blog is still relatively new in my opinion.
In addition, I once read something very powerful over on Adrienne Smith’s blog I think it was. I think she said:
It’s not how many people you have on your list that matters, it’s the quality of the folks that you have on your list that matters the most, people you’ve connected with and nurtured online relationships with, people who trust you!
The more quality peeps you have on your list, the more likely you’ll have a much better email open rate, because these folks are sincerely interested in your content, they trust you’ll continue to provide them with just that.
It would be pointless to have 2,000 email subscribers if only a dozen of those signups actually opened your email newsletter right?
OK let’s begin…
5 Tactics That Helped Me Grow My Email List Like Never Before!
I know that the tactics I’m about to share with you below isn’t anything unconventional or fresh out of the box, however, if you put some effort into building your list properly and without rushing, anyone can follow these steps or add them to them to their existing method and get some level of success with it, there’s no doubt in my mind about that. If you’re completely new to all of this, this is even better for you.
Tactic 1: Finding and using a reliable Autoresponder Service
Many moons ago I was using a service called VerticalResponse as my primary email marketing service provider, I then switched to MailChimp (aff) in late 2013, because at the time, VerticalResponse offered no autoresponder service.
However the biggest reason why I switched to MailChimp was because of the number of spammy registrations I was receiving with VerticalResponse. I don’t know what the case is now with them, but it certainly wasn’t good for me then, I was getting 20 to 30 spammy registrations per day with VR.
I did like the service and the PAYG system they had setup on VR, and it was so simple to use too.
In any case, switching over to MailChimp was one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made in my online business. I love their templates and creating smart and catching email newsletters is so easy. Setting up MailChimp for list building is easy too, there are lot’s of customisation options and you can really make the signup process seamless with MailChimp.
Take away tip: Find and use a reliable and reputable autoresponder email marketing platform you can work with for your blog, either MailChimp or Awebber.
Tactic 2: Being everywhere with my email opt-in form
I notice that a lot of folks just have their email opt-in form in the sidebar of their site and the bottom of their posts, and that’s it! That’s the way everyone else does it, so it is what it is.
That’s a good tactic don’t get me wrong, but it shouldn’t be the only places where to put your opt-in box, and if you’re not getting as many subscribers to your list as you’d like, just look at where you’ve placed your signup forms. You literally need to be EVERYWHERE!
Have a quick scan of your your Google Analytics report and check the traffic stats for your about page and you blog’s homepage, if you’re getting a lot of hits to these pages, which I reckon you are, and you don’t have opt-in boxes on those pages, then you’re missing out hugely.
Here’s a list of places you can expect to find my email signup form.
- Top of blog sidebar
- End of blog posts with call-to-action
- In my about page (several times)
- In dedicated opt-in pages (I’ll talk more about later)
- HelloBar link placed at the top of blog, linking to opt-in page (I’ll talk more about later)
- Native links in content
- On my blog’s homepage above the fold
Tactic 3: Using dedicated customised lead capture pages
One of the most effective strategies for building an email list by far is to use a dedicated lead capture page. I’ve said this over and over again, but searching a handful of blogs that I visit regularly, I rarely find a dedicated email opt-in page! If you’re guilty of this, consider this a good telling off. Now go do something about it.
I currently have two email landing pages, each of them offer a valuable incentive. You can find the links to them below.
I am currently working on a 3rd email opt-in page which will coincide with another product/service that I’ll be launching in April hopefully, I’ll talk about conversions at the end of this post, first I want to share with you the tool that I use and recommend for building email landing pages.
What I use to build my email opt-in landing pages
The tool that I use and swear by to build my email landing pages quickly and effortlessly is called Thrive Landing Pages.
Yes I said quickly, it’s so important that if you don’t yet have a dedicated email landing page, to be able to get one setup quickly, as quickly as in a matter of minutes, not having one is probably costing you more, and so this Thrive landing pages plugin will help you do just that; build your landing pages and integrate your email service provider in a matter of minutes.
Once you have your landing page active and for all to see, you then start making tweaks and fine tuning your landing pages to get the best possible conversions.
Tactic 4: Installing HelloBar Call-To-Action banner above site header
Another reason why I believe I’ve been more successful with boosting my email opt-ins in the last few months is because of the HelloBar plugin I installed above my site. This combined with the next tactic I’ll share with you in just a moment has been truly awesome.
HelloBar is a free service to use and you can signup here. There is a premium service too available, but I personally use the free one for the time being.
Below you’ll find screen captures of the statistics for the HelloBar link featured above this site. Whist the conversion isn’t much to party about, that almost 1% conversion rate is contributing towards my increased opt-ins.
Tactic 5: Offer the most irresistible incentive possible
Finally we get to the ultimate big fat juicy cherry on the cake!
Back at the end of November I launched a brand new PDF guide for bloggers, after doing some brief research, I decided to write a book about how I generated traffic to my blog, and to do it without having relying heavily on search engine traffic or doing much SEO.
I called this guide How To Drive 100 Blog Visits Per Day Without Google, it’s a factual and strategical guide, and very useful.
Originally I launched this guide as a freebie, only for a limited time, with no need for opting in. I then decided in December to give it away as a free incentive, to people who signed up to my email newsletter, and when I did this, my subscriber count literally took off as you can see!
I’m now using it to build a separate new list and I’ve already started to provide targeted content to that list. I’ve also had some positive feedback from users of the eBook too. See the screen grab of some of the comments received on Google+
So peeps, with combining all of the tactics above, this incentive has been well received because it offers a real solution and ideas for bloggers looking for more traffic to their blogs without relying on Google. It’s proving to be popular right now, but in a few months time I’ll have to update the guide so that it continues to provide value.
So let me quickly recap the list of tactics once again.
- Find and use a reliable and reputable autoresponder service, one that won’t hamstring you.
- Make valuable use of your opt-in form, put it everywhere on your site like I have.
- Build and use dedicated and optimised landing pages to capture emails.
- Install HelloBar plugin to grab potential subscribers attention.
- Offer an irresistible free incentive to entice people to get onto your list.
A/B Testing, Goal Setting And Conversion Tracking
Of course there’s no point in busting your guts out trying to make anything work if you’re not going to tweak, test or track your efforts and progress, especially when list building.
Everything needs tweaking and testing to see what works best for you. For instance, your email sidebar opt-in box, there isn’t a one solution solves all problems answer unfortunately. You have to continuously make changes until you get the best possible results.
I’ll give you some quick examples of things you might want to test with your side bar opt-in box for example:
- Is there clarity in your headline title and opt-in message.
- How many fields should you use, test with both, name and email or just name, or just email.
- If you’re offering an incentive, is it enticing enough etc?
- Are you using social proof, numbers etc?
The same applies to your dedicated landing pages, with A/B testing, your about page, end of posts opt-in box and so forth.
Goal Setting And Tracking In Google Analytics
So for my email download page for example, I’ve created a destination goal within Google Analytics to track it’s conversion, how many people actually land on that specific page by taking action within the confirmation email which they receive when signing up.
I won’t go into detail on how to set up goals in GA here, but you can check out this very useful video here on YouTube.
So there you have it troopers, the 5 tactics that I use to build my email list.
Like I said this is an ongoing process, there’s always something to tweak and improve somewhere. As some of you may know, I’m testing a plugin called Zero Bounce to direct bounced traffic from Google to my email opt-in form, and I’ve already seen a slight increase in conversions since installing this plugin. I’m stilly playing around with the settings for now.
I reviewed Zero Bounce plugin a few weeks ago, if you missed it you can check it out here.
Anyway, hopefully you’ve found this post super useful, if you’ve not yet started on building your list, stop wasting time waiting for the perfect time to start, do it now! Grab the Thrive landing pages plugin (aff) and build your email opt-in pages. Get your thinking cap on and find out what your audience really wants, then go out and create the most irresistible incentive for them!
As always I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you have any tips or strategies that has been working for you that you’d like to share, please do leave me a comment below. I look forward in reading them.
As always have an awesome week, happy blogging and stay safe!
Your blogging friend
– Fabrizio Van Marciano