Growing an email list is a critical part of email marketing success. The more people you have to talk to, the more chance you have of getting a good number of people to do what you want them to do, be that click, comment or buy. In the previous article of this email marketing series we looked at getting started in email marketing, now we will look at how you can grow your list from a few to thousands of subscribers.
Size Is Not Everything
First a some caution is necessary. Size is not the main goal.
Aim to build a good quality relationship with people who want to hear from you rather than just focus on quantity.
Always target the best sources of motivated, interested subscribers, not just where you can grab handfuls of names.
Have your sign up form visible, above the fold, but also have a subscribe page that effectively describes the benefits of signing up and that you and other people can link to. Especially if you followed the advice in the previous article and have an incentive to sign up. This is important as you will see.
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You should be continuously looking at what you are doing to see if you are being effective in attracting people to your list and if you are attracting only the right people. Unsubscribes, and the reasons for them, will tell you a great deal. Do more of what works.
10 Best Sources of Email Subscribers
OK, here is the bit you really wanted to read. Where to get lots of eager subscribers:
- You! – Common sense? Probably, but people really do not take advantage of all their own potential places to reach new subscribers. Build on your own touch points such as:
- Your blog – Content is a fantastic way to reach subscribers. Give them great content followed by a call to action to tell them why they should subscribe. Kind of like this series you are reading, if you want to not miss the next part then you will need to subscribe, right? 🙂
- Forum postings – Many forums allow you to include links back to your own site. Instead of “here is my blog / home page”, put “get tips and news right to your inbox by signing up to my newsletter”. Think about it, the people taking part in the Walrus Polishing forum will be interested in more info on that topic, especially if your postings are good.
- Other lists – You might already have email newsletters. Some of the topics will overlap, while others might intersect occasionally. For example, Darren launched Digital Photography School partly through mentions on ProBlogger.
- Email signatures – Any email interaction is a potential for a new sign up, especially email discussion lists. Do NOT harvest email addresses, put the subscribe URL in your signature with a call to action and if they are interested they will opt-in.
- Networking – Be it online or off, there will be a chance to put your subscribe page on your profile, business card, powerpoint … now aren’t you glad you spent time creating a compelling subscribe page?
- Forwards – Forwarded emails are an excellent source of new subscribers because it is both an endorsement and a free sample of your good stuff. This is why you should include subscription options or obvious and compelling web links in your subscriber messages, not for existing subscribers but those you tell. If it is too hard to sign up they will just think “interesting” then move on.
- MGM – “Member Get Member” or “Recommend a Friend” is a common way to get your subscribers to bring friends. Rather than just ask or hope they will forward, ask or incentivise them to use a special form. This form will send a customized email to each of their submitted friends, telling the friend about this cool thing, and optionally then delivering some goodies as a thank you. Another way to do it is give additional chances of winning a prize for each member they attract. Just be careful, this can be spammy if taken too far!
- Incentives – I have already mentioned incentives a fair bit, because they work. There are three ways to get sign ups from free gifts:
- Before – Subscriber bonus that you can’t get without giving your email address, my Flagship Content ebook is one example
- After – Links in the document, video pages, and so on, encourage sign up but you do not need to opt-in to get the content. This is basically how blogs work and also “watch video one, opt-in to get part two”.
- Before AND after – The most advanced is to give free, open content, get opt-in then reinforce subscription with further permissions. You want to build a deeper relationship, from reader, to subscriber, from subscriber to customer, and so on. Consider what I have been doing moving feed subscribers to email subscription by offering benefits over and above my daily content.
- Virals – A viral is basically anything that gets passed around, be it a funny video, a quiz or a small game. The same before/after approaches can be used as in the “incentives” point. The advantage of a viral is people want to pass it on, so can be used as a opt-in delivery system.
- Bloggers – Other bloggers are a great source of subscribers:
- Reviews – They review your video, download, or other incentive, their readers click to get it and opt-in.
- Links – Make your newsletter or incentive about a focused topic and bloggers will link it when talking about your topic.
- Guest posts – Mention your newsletter in your attribution line “Sign up to get more tips like these …”.
- List owners – Referrals from other lists work very well because these people already demonstrate a willingness to subscribe! Again, your incentive or bonus might be the way in, but also through networking and getting to know list owners you can do each other the favor.
- Partners – Team up with other publishers to build a new list, as Darren and I did with the ProBloggerBook.
- Affiliates – People will want to promote you if there is something in it for them. Offer a commission on any sales, connect your affiliate cookie to newsletter signups. Affiliates send visitors to get your free subscriber bonus, when any sales happen the affiliate gets rewarded for delivering the lead.
- Paid – Advertising can be very effective but always test your ROI to make sure you are getting the best price per lead.
- Email newsletter advertising – For a price you can get space in popular email newsletters, usually in the cost per so many thousand emails. This is a better alternative than buying lists but should still be tested before spending a great deal.
- Web advertising – Use pay per click or banner advertising (such as Performancing Ads) to drive people to your list using your incentive as your call to action.
- Offline – Classifieds and print advertising can work, just do the same as above and use your incentive to drive sign ups
There are many variations of the above tactics but they are the main ways to get people on to your list. Always build on your success by monitoring, testing and tracking your subscriber sources and developing new routes to members.
I have mentioned testing and tracking quite a bit, it is vitally important, so in the next part of this series I will go through email metrics and how they are a powerful tool in building a profitable email marketing campaign.
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Table of contents for series: Email Marketing Tips
- Email Marketing Tips: What is Email Marketing?
- Email Marketing Tips: List Building
- Email Marketing Tips: Getting More Email Subscribers
- Email Marketing Tips: Email Tracking
- Email Marketing Tips: Email Testing
- Email Marketing Tips: Introduction to Email Copywriting
- Email Marketing Tips: Writing Effective Email Subject Lines
- Email Marketing Tips: What to Write About